FAO Director General bestowed a Samoan warriors matai title


The FAO Director General in Samoan traditional chiefly attire after the titles bestowal this morning. PHOTO by FAO

The FAO Director General in Samoan traditional chiefly attire after the titles bestowal this morning. PHOTO by FAO

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA: FRIDAY 12 APRIL 2013: The Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, José Graziano da Silva was bestowed a chiefly title reserved for a warrior today.

He was bestowed the title of Tagaloaletoaolemalaeoletoto (translated Tagaloa the warrior of the battleground of the blood) in a dawn ceremony surrounded by the village chiefs and orators and untitled men at Matautu, Lefaga,

The Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Le Mamea Ropati said the title is highly regarded in his village and district. He said the title has many significant references to the history of Samoa, but he only highlighted two reasons he thought was appropriate for this morning’s title bestowal ceremony.

One, the title represents bravery in any warriors as signified by the word “toa” in Tagaloale”toa”olemalaeoletoto and the importance of the  word “malae” which could mean battleground or common meeting place.

“Graziano is a warrior leading the fight in reducing poverty, securing food security and increasing food resilience,” said Le Mamea.

Graziano and Le Mamea met during Graziano’s inauguration to the Director –General of FAO in Rome and invited him to attend the 10th Agriculture Ministers conference in Samoa.

Graziano acknowledged the honor of receiving the tittle during his speech at the Ministers conference this afternoon.

Le Mamea said FAO is spearheading projects around the world which will help alleviate problems faced by the world.

At the end of today’s meeting, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between FAO member countries in the Pacific will be signed to kick-off a Multi Community Project to combat all obstacles hindering agriculture development and income earning opportunities.

The new chief with the Minister of Agriculture, Le Mamea Ropati

The new Samoan chief with the Minister of Agriculture, Le Mamea Ropati

Lefaga is selected as the location for the first project which will continue on to other Pacific islands.

“The title bestowal is the first step in securing close ties with FAO,” said Le Mamea.

He acknowledges FAO’s regional offices for the firm support in many Government projects and he hopes, that after the conference tomorrow, a platform is set for countries to help develop and monitor their projects.

Graziano was scheduled to have been bestowed the title yesterday morning, but his flight had to turn back when one of the passengers had health problems and he only arrived in Apia last night – missing the conference opening.

Comment List

  • Seu 14 / 04 / 2013

    Am wondering if such title bestowals are necessary? Are such cultural prostitution and self promotion by those promoting such?

  • Brenda 15 / 04 / 2013

    Is there anything sacred left in Samoa for Samoans? Why are these fia fai mea, maga’o mea people giving away titles to palagis and chinese these days? Hello Samoa, the palagis are getting paid to do their job and the chinese are making money from their businesses. This shameful practice of giving titles away should be stopped. A matai title is earned – o le ala i le pule o le tautua. Every Samoan taule’ale’a works hard to serve his family, village etc and are bestowed a title at due time. These foreigners just hop off a plane and are handed one on a silver platter. How is that fair to the one that works hard?

    • Thanks for your comments. Just to put the issue in perspective, honourary titles such as the one bestowed on the FAO Director General, the New Zealand PM, the Auckland Mayor and many others, do not have the same rights such as to titles and land and related resources that a Samoan who is an heir to any title has to those valuable possessions and resources that have to be passed down to future Samoan generations. Hope this helps in the debate. Editor

      • Brenda 15 / 04 / 2013

        Thank you for your perspective editor, but I think this shameful unnecessary practice needs to stop. I also agree with Seu’s comment. An honourary title is sacred to Samoans regardless whether it has the same rights or not. It seems to me that the only reason for doing so, is at the end of the day it benefits the hidden agendas of those involved, but not the people at large.

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  • Tuioletoa 23 / 04 / 2013

    I see nothing wrong with this practice. O mea totino a Samoa ua uma o le tuu matamaga. O titles ia o loo faaogaina mo tagata nei e le o ni titles faaleaiga….o titles ua tuu matamaga mo occasions faapea…aua e o loo fesoasoani malosi i le atinaeina o Samoa. This faavae was formed as soon as Samoa became independent…so if youre 50 or so years old..you would’ve remember it…..well now I am 76 years old :).

  • Seu 24 / 04 / 2013

    I would appreciate if those involved with Samoan studies (e.g. NUS) could throw light on this matter regards matai titles for foreigners.

  • Maureen Unasa 16 / 05 / 2013

    Interesting. Being raised outside of Samoa I am only beginning to scratch the surface of understanding and researching the Samoan culture and traditions for my own personal journey.

    My instant reaction now and in the past when matai titles were bestowed on others specifically non-Samoans is a kind of questionning into the necessity of such an action.

    If you want to show gratitude then a “thank you” will suffice. People or organisations do not do things for something in return. They take actions to make a difference. If we keep feeling we have to repay generosity then underlying agendas are in play.

    I have often heard my parents say in Samoan that love is repaid by love. “E taui a le alofa le alofa”. As human beings (not just Samoans) we stray from the complete transparency of giving freely and fully without expectation.

    Fa’afetai lava