By Unumoe Esera
APIA: Wednesday 27th June 2012: The Malofie Group departs Faleolo Airport at 9:30pm tonight to head towards Honiara, Solomon Islands where the Festival of Pacific Arts will be held this year.
There are 76 people in the group traveling to the Festival, 30 of them are from the Malofie Group while others are representatives from the Taulasea Association, those who do weaving, print tapa cloth, elei, canoe building, handicrafts, film and youth groups. The Minister of Education and a medical officer will also be traveling with the group.
A farewell ceremony was held for the group at the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture this morning as MESC coordinated all the groups who are going to the festival.
The Chairman of the Festival Coordinating Committee Afemata Tunumafono Apelu Aiavao said those who were chosen to represent Samoa at the festival were selected based on two criteria.
Firstly they must be able to demonstrate Samoan culture and traditions which is part of the Pacific way of life.
“Their presence at the festival is to showcase our culture overseas, it is not a competition,” said Afemata.
Also the committee and Cabinet decided to give the opportunities to other people to go overseas especially those who haven’t traveled before to such events.
Afemata said that five dance groups auditioned and the decision was narrowed down to two groups, Levi, Sale’imoa and Malofie. Malofie was chosen to represent the country.
He emphasized the importance of good behavior while in the Solomon Islands. Dr Robert Thomas will also be traveling with them in order to provide medical assistance to the group as malaria, fever and HIV AIDS are some of the diseases that they are prone to be infected by while there and prevent it from happening.
Afemata thanked those in the committee that he had worked with for their hard work during preparations for the festival.
“It’s been a very great pleasure working with you,” he said.
The Acting Prime Minister Fonotoe Nuafesili Pierre Meredith gave advice to the traveling group.
He encouraged them to be on their best behavior and to show courtesy and all the things that make our culture unique such as the village councils, the good standard and harmony within the country, polite manners as they are the flag carriers and ambassadors for Samoa while abroad.
He stated this because many problems usually arise when large groups travel overseas for such events, problems like over consumption of alcohol.
“Keep in mind that people from other countries will be there, especially those who have traveled all the way to celebrate and witness the festival and all your efforts will be a waste if something like that happens due to bad behavior
“Your performance and efforts that you put in at the Festival will hopefully attract more tourists to our shores,” he said.
The group will return back home on the 17th July. The Festival of Pacific Arts is held every four years and takes place over the course of two weeks.