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Am Samoa fautasi invited to row in Teuila Fest, only 1 shows up

Apia, SAMOA — Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has called American Samoans “losers” for not taking up the challenge to participate in Samoa’s annual Teuila Festival fautasi race. He said in Samoan that he expected six fetus’s from Tutuila but they are all losers except for one brave fautasi that took up the challenge.

Tuilaepa is referring to God is Great, which is rowed by men from all over of American Samoa. God is Great was usually rowed by Faleniu “Tama ile Mu’au” however the village council of Faleniu opted not to participate, but owner of the fautasi Savaliga Afu gathered his own crew.

The crew has now arrived in Samoa, however it’s not known in which village they are staying. During his radio program, Tuilaepa said that Tutuila and Manu’a should not brag about their fautasi when they are wimps for not taking up this challenge with the Samoa fautasi. Tuilaepa who is known for not mincing his words, said if anyone should bet on the race, use a dollar — don't use two dollars in case you lose.

This year in June Tuilaepa wrote to Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga and requested three of the best fautasi from Tutuila to participate in the race. Last week Samoa News interviewed “God is Great’s” skipper Savaliga Afu who is a rookie and he said that his crew is ready. Asked as to how many of the crew he said they currently have 47 but he wanted to get at least 60 men. Afu who owns the fautasi said no one from Faleniu is rowing in the long boat at Samoa’s festival.

He told Samoa News that this is great opportunity for him and while it’s challenging he’s happy to be a part of Samoa’s festival this year. During a phone interview with Afu, he said his crew is made up of men who wish to participate and all he’s keen on at the time is the physical fitness of his crew. He also stated that Chief Executive Officer of Samoa’s Tourism Authority Papali’i Sonya Hunter reached out to him directly, which prompted the move to participate.

According to an official from the governor’s office, when the invitation from Samoa surfaced, letters were sent out to the villages with fautasi asking if they wished to participate. However none of the villages, except for God is Great, wanted to attend.  

Papali’i confirmed with Samoa News that six fautasi would compete in this year’s Teuila Festival regatta, and so far they have six. The Fautasi’s who have registered are, Little Rina, Samoa Outrigger Canoe Association, Malotau Youth Group from Manono, Telefoni o le Vainuu Manono, Tolotolo o le Tamauli from Salelologa and God is Great from American Samoa.

In other Teuila festival news, Tuilaepa is pleased with the growing numbers of beautiful young Samoan women who are vying for the Miss Samoa crown Friday, September 9, 2016 (Samoa Time). This year there were concerns that Australia has two representatives, however Tuilaepa said “the more the merrier.” He said the increasing numbers of contestants the better the chances of selecting the best girl to represent Samoa in the Miss South Pacific Pageant

According to STA CEO, there are six contestants in this year’s Miss Samoa, which includes one from New Zealand, and two from Australia, while three are from Samoa. Tuilaepa said that that Australia was well aware they are to bring only one contestant however they were unable to settle by having one pageant, they held two separate pageants and then made the request to Samoa. Tuilaepa welcomes this, given that following the Miss Samoa Pageant, the more important pageant that comes after is the Miss South Pacific in which he said only one contestant will represent Samoa.

Tuilaepa who is the Chairman of the Miss South Pacific board, noted that in past Miss South Pacific Pageants, when women in the private sector were in charge of the pageant, Samoa never won for a long time and then the government had to step in and then from then on Samoa won three times in a row. He pointed out that the reason why the government stepped in was because the women who were in charge of the Miss Samoa pageant failed tremendously to bring the Miss South Pacific crown to Samoa.