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Lemanu firms up Flag Day program, no Samoa fautasi

Samoa’s winning fautasi from last year's Samoa Independence Day has decided not to attend this year’s Flag Day celebration in American Samoa due to an issue with the difference in oars used by Samoa and American Samoa longboat teams.


This was revealed by Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga, when asked yesterday for an update on the status of the 2014 Flag Day preparations. Lemanu, who is currently Acting Governor, as well as co-chair of the Flag Day Committee, says the committee is scheduled to hold another meeting today.


In any Flag Day celebration, the fautasi race is the most anticipated and exciting activity; and Samoa’s champ of the 2013 Independence Fautasi race, Tolotolo o le Tamauli of Salelologa, Savai’i, was extended an invitation to row against the local fautasi teams.


When asked for an update about invitees from Samoa, such as fautasi and village groups, Lemanu said, Tolotolo o le Tamauli has declined the invitation over the type of oars used by local fautasi.


He explained that while Samoa teams use Samoan traditional oars, American Samoa fautasi use “spoon oars — high tech oars”, and noted that the village of Saanapu on Upolu island will participate in the traditional siva and pese festivities.


(Deputy Secretary of Samoan Affairs, Tuiagamoa Tavai told a meeting last week of local fautasi captains and officials that the fautasi from Samoa had declined an invitation, citing the cost and preparation needed for such an endeavor. At the meeting nine fautasi teams were represented. See Samoa News story on Mar. 6 for more details)


Lemanu also said that many invitations have been sent out for off-island VIPs to attend this year’s celebration and they are awaiting official confirmations.


The Flag Day plan at this point, will begin Apr. 13 with the annual Flag Day Church Service, followed by the Arts Council Flag Day Performing Arts groups from Apr. 14 to 16. All these activities will be held at the Siugaula o le Atuvasa Park at Utulei Beach.


“There will be only one day for Flag Day this year, which is on April 17”, the actual date when — 114 years ago— the U.S. Flag was raised over Tutuila, the Acting Governor said.


This year’s celebration is dedicated to the business community and therefore Bluesky Communications and StarKist Samoa are representing the private sector with siva and pese. From the the villages, Pago Pago is preparing the pese and Vailoatai the siva.


In the last cabinet meeting, it was announced that the Flag Day program would be firmed up later this month.