Seven villagers banished on Good Friday

While Samoa commemorated the death of Jesus Christ on Good Friday, seven villagers suffered the humiliation of being evicted from their village.The matai and their families were banished from Nofoali’i following a Land and Titles Court hearing over the location of a church building. Words spoken during the hearing by a paramount chief further enraged the Falea’ana (council of village chiefs).As a result, the Village Council decided to evict six matai and their families while one matai was banned from being part of the village council. The seven included the Mayor of Nofoali’i, Tanuvasa Mitai.In an interview with the Chief Elder of the Faleaana (council of village chiefs), Otemai Liu, he confirmed that the seven villagers were banished as of Friday.“Tanuvasa Lefine, Tanuvasa Panini, Tanuvasa Tautalafua, Tanuvasa Tavita, Tanuvasa Mitai and Ai’i Aso have been banished indefinitely while Tanuvasa Samu has been banished from the council.”According to Otemai, the reason stems from the building of the EFKS Church Hall at Leulumoega.“Tanuvasa Lefine is the reason this whole thing started,” said Otemai. “She and her supporters tried to stop the building of the hall claiming that it was their family’s land that the hall was being built on.“She, her supporters and the village of Leulumoega took the matter to court and it was part of this court case that the village of Nofoali’i is not happy about.“The village is annoyed because Taimalelagi Naotala was part of this dispute and he should not have been because this dispute was over land and Taimalelagi is from Mulifanua, not Nofoali’i.“It was what Taimalelagi said during the court proceedings that is the reason for the banishment.“He said that he (Taimalelagi) was the Paramount Chief of the Tanuvasa family of Nofoali’i and that is why this village is angry.“After our village meeting yesterday (Friday) we all agreed that Tanuvasa Lefine and her supporters were to be banished.”Otemai said the village had endorsed building of the church hall and that he “had asked Tanuvasa Mitai (Mayor) to have Tanuvasa Lefine withdraw herpetition against the building of the hall from court.”As for the timing of the banishment and whether Good Friday should have been the day to banish the villagers, Otemi had this to say.“I did try to sway the council about leaving the matter until Monday after our village meeting,” he admitted, “however there was too much anger and so it was done.”

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