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Samoa Observer names Tusitala Short Story Competition winners

Apia, SAMOA — American Samoa’s Poe Mageo, and Tamari Mulitalo Cheung were among those who made the top five who submitted their short stories in the Pacific Islands category for the annual Samoa Observer Tusitala Short Story Competition. Held last week at the Samoa Observer main office in Vaitele, the short story competition categories were — stories from Australia/New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands, which includes, American Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Samoa. Rowena Seutatia MacDonald took out the Australia/ New Zealand category and was also the overall winner; the Pacific Islands winners were Shannon Foster Yam from PNG and Rachel Laulu from Samoa.

Digice’s Press Officer Chloe Faaiuaso was the keynote speaker who stated that the Tusitala competition really struck a chord with Digicel because it fits perfectly with Digicel’s community engagement initiatives. “Along with Samoa Observer and the other sponsors here tonight (Friday night-Samoa Time), we share a passion for literacy and education.

“Digicel has been in Samoa for 10 years now and, in that time, we’ve seen the importance of and the need for drives that support learning and development. More recently, we’ve funded other education based initiatives such as our scholarships program for five local university students, we’ve supported and tonight we acknowledge SSAB in the Literacy & Numeracy week and we’ve introduced the CoderDojo program, a global movement of free computer coding classes for children aged 5 – 12 years old.”

Faaiuaso said that its Digicel’s hope that by supporting these initiatives, they can help to prepare Samoa for a brighter future, where opportunities can be created in Samoa, by locals and for locals. “Which is why it’s great that the Tusitala competition is run regionally as I’m sure our neighboring countries share our passion for education. Sponsoring the competitions was a great opportunity to really encourage our aspiring writers and to bring out the ‘story-teller’ in all of us. I’ve had the pleasure of reading last year’s publication and the caliber of the stories is fantastic.”

China’s Ambassador to Samoa, Wang Xuefeng, was the another key note speaker who pointed out that on November 13, 2016 is the 166th anniversary of the birth of Robert Louis Stevenson, the much beloved Tusitala of Samoan people. “RLS Museum is only steps away from my Embassy. That day, my wife and I paid a special visit to RLS Museum. As we saw the Teuila, the national flower of Samoa, on the gate of the Museum, as we walked on the Road of Loving Hearts, as we gazed at the top of Mount Vaea, recalling the beautiful verses of Requiem, we were deeply impressed by the love of Samoan people for Robert Louis Stevenson.”

According to Xuefeng he grew up listening to all kinds of interesting stories from his grandmother and his mother, and later he himself also became a storyteller and made storytelling his lifetime career and finally he won the top prize in the world for literature. “In fact, wherever we are, we all like listening to stories, stories happening around us, stories in the past, stories full of imagination. Samoa Observer, as the most influential newspaper in both English and Samoan languages, is very popular among people.” 

He stated that the Samoa Observer Tusitala Short Story Competition encourages people of all ages to write and share their stories with other people. “And now, we are glad to know that more excellent works are produced by talented storytellers this year and we look forward to reading their wonderful stories. As Chinese Ambassador, during my past one-year stay in Samoa, I feel like that I have also become a storyteller.  I have told many amazing stories of China-Samoa friendship to both Samoan friends and Chinese friends.” 

He went on to tell a story of his many predecessors as Ambassador for the past 41 years, ending by saying, “Actually the connection between China and Samoa started more than 100 years ago and if we put all these stories into one book, it will be a huge huge book, indeed.”