Taking pride in Samoa’s cleanliness

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Now that the 27th Annual Teuila Festival has closed, we join the Minister of Tourism, Sala Fata Pinati, in acknowledging and congratulating everyone involved in making the weeklong festivities possible.

During the closing of this year’s Festival yesterday, the Minister made a valid point in acknowledging every one involved – including all the people of Samoa who keep Samoa beautiful. 

In this he was referring to the people of Savai’i, Upolu, Apolima and Manono. Yes you, me and everyone. So give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it.

Folks, we believe the Minister could not have said it better. 

When you observe the general comments from visitors to this country, one of the most common feedbacks is that Samoa is a lot cleaner than many of the places they have been to – including some of our more popular island neighbours. 

Here at the Samoa Observer, our Dear Tourist pages present a wonderful opportunity to get into the tourists’ minds. 

On those pages, we present the views of tourists about their experiences here.  They tell us what they love about Samoa, what could be improved and whether they would recommend our slice of paradise to their families and friends.

So far so great. 

The feedback has been extremely positive. We certainly hope the authorities are taking note and using it to improve the Samoan experience. 

The fact is not a week goes by without tourists making the point about how clean Samoa is – especially out in the villages. Most tourists fall absolutely in love with the landscaping in front of homes and gardens that seem to grow all so naturally. 

Even for a local, I’d say it is one of the most beautiful aspects of Samoa. It’s something we hardly find in other places.

Which is why the acknowledgement by the Minister of Tourism for all Samoans involved in beautifying our nation is not only timely but extremely important.

Over the years, the point that tourism is everybody’s business has been hammered home so often. But very little is said about our pride as Samoans in beautifying our surroundings. 

If you grew up in the village, you would know how important this is from an early age. The first chore for kids in the morning is what is referred to as “ta’alao le otaota.” Without fail, children would be asked to do this before they do anything else. 

In the villages, overgrown grass especially in front of a family’s house is an embarrassment so an effort is made to ensure it is trimmed and neat. 

Back in the days when most people were sleeping in an open fale, occupants are up as early as 5am to put away the mosquito nets and clean the house to avoid the embarrassment of people looking at an untidy fale when dawn breaks. It was a big no, no for a family to still have mosquito nets hanging when the day breaks.

It might not seem like a big deal to many people but such is the pride we as Samoans take in keeping that image of cleanliness and neatness.

This is why it is hardly surprising that visitors to these shores have identified the cleanliness of Samoa as one of the most positive aspects of their visits. As a Samoan, who doesn’t feel mighty proud? Who does not feel inspired by such positive comments? 

The challenge is to maintain this attitude about keeping our surroundings clean. 

A generation who nurtured this mentality is slowly but surely disappearing. We are seeing the rise of another generation who simply walk to the dining table in the morning for breakfast and not care about the rubbish they need to pick up first.

If anything, we believe the government, if they haven’t so already, should revive their beautification prizes for villages to continue to encourage them to keep the villages clean. It must be said that the Minister of Tourism is taking the lead with his village of Leauva’a. It is one of the most beautiful villages to drive through – especially with the lights on at night. 

We’re pretty sure others would follow if they were offered an incentive. It’s these little things that make the difference. True that all Pacific islands have beaches, beers and coconuts. 

But we want Samoa to have more than that. It would be wonderful to be known as the cleanliest tourism destination in the Pacific, which is something that is certainly within our grasp since the “tumama” attitude is built into us from a very early age.

Congratulations again to everyone involved in the Teuila Festival.  Until this time next year, have a wonderful weekend and God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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