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Manono Island residents celebrate Samoa’s 60th independence

By Talaia Mika

APIA, SAMOA – 01 JUNE 2022: Excitement filled the air at Manono Island as about 200 of its population came together to celebrate Samoa’s 60th independence today.

After two years of Covid-19 lockdowns and many disruptions to daily life, the excitement was evident as the residents were openly grateful to see and be together with everyone in a spirit of national celebration.

The two main denominations on the island, the Methodists and the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa joined hands to host the celebrations that will spread over four days.

The celebrations kicked off with a dawn parade around the island and congregated at the church missionaries’ memorial at Faleu, while sirens were set off.

Manono pastors with Cake
Manono pastors with Cake

The Manono Island church ministers with the 60th anniversary cake.

Reverend Ieremia Saufo’i of the CCCS church conducted the prayer service to officially open the celebrations.

The only woman chief of the island, Leiataua Lesa Kilali Alailima was given the honour to raise their Samoan flag.

Then an Ava Ceremony was conducted at the village Maota to welcome everyone, the guests and relatives who travelled from Upolu and Savaii islands to join their celebration.

Manono Ava
Manono Ava

The welcome Ava Ceremony.

Then after a short break for breakfast, there were improvised sporting and cultural events.

A matured coconut as a rugby ball, the island residents gathered what they could find in their environment for their sports events.

Daily chores were turned into competitions for the fastest in coconut husking, basket weaving, sack race and tug of war.

Manono coconut race
Manono coconut race

A sandy beach, matured coconuts, jandals in an improvised coconut race.

Rev. Saufo’i and Rev. Isaako of the Methodist church expressed their sincere thanks to the Government for the initiative to have the villages celebrate Samoa’s independence in their own villages especially after the disruptions by the pandemic lockdowns.

The islands residents will gather again for the rest of the celebrations on Friday, Saturday and Sunday this week.

Manono basket weaving
Manono basket weaving

The the fastest basket weaver?

As island residents, they are closely linked to the sea for daily travel. Before the outboard motors, Manono islanders are expert seamen and rowers using the long boats for daily travel.

Since the very first Independence celebrations, Manono Island had been closely linked to the national celebrations as the best rowers and oarsmen in the independence Fautasi – long boats race.

This week, they are staging their own Fautasi race this coming Saturday as the highlight of their celebrations.

3 Fautasi Image
3 Fautasi Image

Scene from a previous Independence Fautasi Race.