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The 11th Festival of Pacific Arts just ended in the Solomon Islands on July 14, 2012 and the American Samoa participants returned home earlier this week.

According to eye witness accounts, more than 3,000 artists and cultural practitioners from 24 Pacific countries, travelled to Honiara, Solomon Islands, to showcase their arts and cultures.

The festival is recognized as a major international cultural event that occurs every four years and is the largest gathering in which Pacific peoples unite to gain respect for and appreciation of one another within the context of the changing Pacific.

Local businessman James McGuire attended the festival with his wife Helen and were joined by their daughters who sailed in on one of the seven voyaging canoes from Pacific nations, that arrived in Honiara at sunset on the opening day.

“Some of the high points of the Festival was meeting people from the different Pacific Islands and watching them share their dances, music, carving, art work and local customs,” said McGuire. “Another high point was the arrival of seven voyaging canoes at sunrise on opening day of the Festival and the opportunity for the general public to go for a sail”.

“During the opening ceremony, although we had to stand in the hot sun for a good part of the afternoon, it was more fun than the opening ceremony of the Athens 2004 Olympics, due to all of the artistic people on the field and very colorful dresses. Unlike the Olympics, where at the beginning, tension and anticipation filled the air,” explained McGuire.

He went on to say that he was especially proud of the way the American Samoa Community College students conducted themselves and how they were proud to carry the American Flag all afternoon and at the the closing ceremony, unlike Guam and Hawaii who (in McGuire’s point of view), wanted to give the impression they were sovereign nations.

“The musical talent of many Solomon Island groups, with bamboo instruments, was quite something to hear. The carving work done by Rapa Nui, New Zealand, French Polynesia and Rennell Province were extreme,” he said.

“All in all, it was a heavy cultural experience, bearing in mind while the sun beats down, the ice caps are melting and the seas continue to rise with too little, too late an effort on the part of the of the planet's biggest polluters, America, China, and India (in my opinion). One can only wonder looking across the playing field at all musical performances, film screenings, cultural demonstrations and the opening and closing ceremonies, what will the future bring for countries like Kiribati, Tuvalu, Palau and many others,” he explained.

 McGuire also stated that at the closing ceremony at Lawson Tama Field on Friday the 13th, the Governor General, Sir Frank Ofagioro Kabui mentioned the Festival cost $100 million (Solomon dollars ) and there were 3,000 participants from 24 countries. In closing, of the total creative arts events at the Festival, American Samoa participated in all the events, except for the fire walks, stamps & philatelic, tattoo and traditional games.

“This was an event for all American Samoans to be proud of. Special thanks to organizer Tialuga Seloti and High Chief Lauti for their contribution to the American Samoa contingency in Honiara,” he concluded.