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Fono 75th Jubilee celebrated success of self-rule in the territory

women at celebration

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The 75 years of the Legislature of Tutuila and Manu'a, on Nov. 30, 2023, united surviving leaders from the current and former governments to celebrate the success of American Samoa's stability under their leadership.

The celebration was held at the Governor H. Rex Lee Auditorium — a one day event was a simple and elegant event, which included gift packs on the table for each participant with lunch served to each celebrant.

Governor Lemanu P.S. Mauga was given the honor to address the more than 500 celebrants.

"Today we remember some of God's chosen leaders, he used for the good work, their contribution to the our country, the love, and honesty to encourage all,” the governor said.

"As we pray, and receive an unexpected helping hand, we are grateful and want to share the blessings of God. For today we celebrate the Fono of Tutuila and Manu’a.”

Honoring members of the current Fono — the Senate president, Speaker of the House and the legislature of American Samoa — he thanked them for their “hard work, your service and thank you for your love.”

He noted that “American Samoa's theme is "God first.

"Three most important values to God, faith, hope and love, but on top of those, is love, as we do for our government with faith,” he said. He concluded by congratulating the “Legislature of American Samoa, on your 75 years.

“Blessings to the government of American Samoa, people of Tutuila and Manu'a, as well as Tumua and Pule with their government, thank you.”

House Speaker Talavou Ale, called upon Tootoo Fofo, former Senator and former member of the US Congress, to give his blessings as well, in which he was brief and humorous when he said, he had no gift to give but to praise God for the day and congratulated the Fono's 75th anniversary.

Senate President Tuaolo Manaia  Fruean when he took the floor acknowledged the presence of Samoa's Acting Prime Minister Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio.

He also congratulated and acknowledged all the late members, former surviving and current leaders in the Legislature of American Samoa, "you are all the reason for today.” 

He pointed out the two Houses, "one for the Senate and the other of Representatives.”

The challenge was thrown to women participants, asking how come there are no women leaders?

"Is there a shortage of women in American Samoa?”

(Samoa News notes there are two women in the leadership roles, one Senator and one in the House of Representatives, plus several female directors.)

Senate President Tuaolo pointed to the female Prime Minister of Samoa, saying, “when she gives addresses before the United Nation leaders Conferences, there's that feeling of pride and admiration (for Samoa).”

He also acknowledged American Samoa's first female Representative in the US House of Representatives, Congresswoman Uifa’atali Aumua Amata,” with her traditional wear, puletasi, ma le mamalu.

"That's just a few challenges for you today, as we celebrate these many years of the legislature, with the participation of women from the past legislatures.”

Tuaolo wants to see more women leaders in American Samoa.

Most women approached by Samoa News for their take on the Senate President's Challenge, said they are ready, while some declined to comment.

Ms Sandra King Young didn't hesitate to say, "In the last election, there were quite a few women who ran but they didn't win.

"It's not enough for women to get up and go, the Fono needs a change of mentality to give women a chance.”

The celebration formalities continued, with Samoa's government gifting a No.1- Fine mat to the 75th celebration of American Samoa's Legislature.

Acting Prime Minister Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio presented the traditional present on behalf of the Legislative Assembly of the Independent State of Samoa.

"This fine mat is part of the house of Representatives at Tiafau, that belongs to Tumua and Pule.

"Whereas, Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa, leader of the House and House Speaker, Papalii Li'o Taeu Masipa'u and members would like to present it to the 75th year of American Samoa's Legislature. Samoa is a family."