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For the first time in two years, Samoa fautasi take to the water

Apia, SAMOA — Manono-Tai came alive on Saturday as Samoa residents gathered for the first time since the closure of borders due to the COVID pandemic – for a Fautasi race.

Samoa Observer is reporting for the first time in a long while the people from Manono took out their wooden canoes and oars to row with the event coinciding with Samoa's 60th Independence anniversary celebrations that kicked off last Wednesday.

The official flag raising at Tiafau, Mulinu'u by Samoa's first female Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa marked the start of official celebrations. The Government urged villages and districts across the country to prepare their own programs for the next 12 months to mark Independence.

On Saturday residents from two sub-villages in Manono-Tai, Lepuiai and Faleu gathered and prepared their Samoan wooden fautasi canoes and oars for the event. 

They rowed from Upolu to Manono-Uta wishing their families and friends in Manono-Uta a "Happy Independence Celebration" before they head back to Manono-Tai.

While the event was not run as a competition amongst the rowers who were able to participate, the elders of the village declared that they were bringing back fautasi racing, in preparation for the Teuila and other Independence festivities in September this year.

The fautasi canoes with their rowers were accompanied by boats packed to capacity by a crowd of onlookers who cheered the rowers on as the races progressed on Saturday. 

The island of Manono-Tai in the past had participated and won in the Fautasi race during Independence and Teuila Festival. 

They had two famous fautasi named Tava'esina and Telefoni-ole-vainu'u. 

Prime Minister Fiame has announced that the main festivities for the Independence celebration will take place in September to coincide with the Teuila Festival.

Samoa in the last two years had celebrated both Independence and Teuila Festival virtually, because of the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of borders.