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Gov Lemanu and ASG officials meet with Ft Bragg Samoan community

Gov. Lemanu P.S. Mauga, and First Lady Ella with Congregational Christian Church of Ft. Bragg & Fayetteville soldiers

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Governor Lemanu P. S. Mauga during his recent visit to the States held a question and answer session with the Samoan community in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina prior to giving instruction to the soldiers on the importance of service to the culture, according to a press release issued by the government.

The question and answer session included questions on the Fitisemanu v. United States forum led by the Lt. Governor a few years ago; American Samoa Government’s stance on its political status; and other questions about the new hospital, would Veterans be able to use their military IDs to travel to American Samoa, and whether there are any programs for Veterans that are returning home.

The last question was about the possibility of people from Samoa being able to vote in the territory if they have lived in American Samoa for several years, establishing residency. Governor Lemanu explained that the administration is currently reviewing and researching this topic.

In all but the last question, the statement said, “The governor provided responses for the majority of the questions and asked the directors to add to the discussion where it seemed relevant to their departments.”

The governor was joined by Chief of Staff Loa Tauapai Mulipola, Directors Petti Matila (DOC) and Faleosina Voigt (DPW), and Tuiafono Vai Sua (Deputy Director of Hawaii Office of Am. Samoa) and Ryan Tuato’o (Head of Customer Service- ASPA).

 According to the statement — prior to the question and answer session, a service was held at the Congregational Christian Church of Ft. Bragg & Fayetteville.

Gov Lemanu thanked the Church members for all their preparations where Reverend Mana’omia Tauanu’u and his Faletua Se’ela Tauanu’u lead the congregation with the support of Chairman Faasiusiuga Taumua, Vice Chairman Toaiva Aina, Secretary Uluai Taumua, and Treasurer Elsa Talalemotu-Smith.

Like in many military installations with concentrations of soldiers of Samoan origin, the church is central to many Samoan retirees and active-duty military personnel stationed in Ft. Bragg. Those who attended the service were moved by an inspiring sermon titled “Servant Leadership” delivered by the lay preacher and U.S. Army Major Tua Uilisone from Fagasa village.

Major Tua encouraged the congregation to reflect on the example of Jesus Christ when he washed his disciples’ feet.

“The disciples expected a warrior prince but Jesus Christ came as a serving prince. A true leader must be willing to serve despite their title and calling. Major Tua invited the congregation to ponder on John 13: 1-10 and follow Jesus Christ to serve with no intentions to gain a reward. He reminded the congregation that “a position of leadership is simply a place of service.”

Gov Lemanu was given a few minutes to address the church and reminded the congregation that the Samoan people who were born and raised in the Samoas were taught specific roles and responsibilities to serve their families, villages, government and in the church.

 “Samoa has four types of houses of service or school homes:

1.         Tunoa (Outside Cookhouse) — Men and the young men prepare the umu

2.         Umu Kuka (Kitchen) — Women prepare the main dishes

3.         Fale Tofā (Sleeping House) — Where the family sleeps

4.         Fale tele (Guest House) — All family meetings, special ceremonies, feasts, family prayers/churches, and welcoming of guests are held in this fale.

 “We learn that the Tunoa is not only for preparing and making the umu.

“It is a place where the young men learn how to farm, care for the crops, and learn how to cook different Samoan traditional side dishes. “It is not an easy learning process. It is hard work. Likewise, there are a lot of life lessons that can be learned from the other two houses.”

He emphasized the importance of the fale tele or fale talimalo.

 “When the fale talimalo is occupied for a gathering, it becomes a family, a village, a church and a government responsibility to support one another.

 “The fale talimalo has its designated areas for each group. The high chiefs and talking chiefs sit in the fale tele to welcome and host guests.

 “The aumaga or the young men are assigned to the back of the house to serve. The faletua, tausi ma tama’ita’i are assigned to the umu kuka to help prepare meals. The missing post is the lumā fale or the front of the house.”

He said the Toa o Samoa take over this post in front of the house.

 “You are the providers and the caretakers for your families.”

The governor pointed out that the Samoan people have spread across the globe, “Churches have become our gathering places,” he said.

“Reverend Tauanu’u and the congregation is the fale talimalo because the congregation gathers all the Samoans in North Carolina without a village set up.”

In conclusion, Governor Lemanu once again thanked the Toa o Samoa for their selfless service (tautua toto, tautua tuāvae, tautua matavela) that will never be forgotten.

 “We are separated by miles and great distance, but we’re closer in prayers. All of the American Samoa people are rooting and supporting you in prayers. Thank you again for your service to our families and country. You are the protectors and providers of our homes”.