Samoa sets aside a week-long celebration for ANZAC centenary

Some of Samoa’s Royal Returned Servicemen in a previous ANZAC Dawn Parade

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA: TUESDAY 14 APRIL 2015: The Royal Returned & Services Association (RSA) of Samoa has set down a whole week of activities to celebrate the 100 years of ANZAC.

RSA President Tuala Joe Ponifasio said that the programme will kick off next week, 19th April with a special church service and ends on the 25th April with the annual dawn parade and laying of wreaths at the memorial town clock.

This is the first time a whole week has been allocated for this celebration given the significance of event.

While none of the Gallipoli campaign survivors and their descendants are faintly related to Samoa, ANZAC had recently been expanded to celebrate the service and sacrifice of Samoans who had served in various other campaigns at troubled spots around the world such as Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The ANZAC day is no longer honoured with a public holiday in Samoa 25 April and the Samoan Government recently moved the holiday to celebrate Father’s Day in August every year.

RSA members have been requested the Government since to restore the holiday as it used to be.

This year’s programme includes a military style church service at the Anglican Church, to be followed by the play “Goodbye my Feleni”. The play premieres on Monday night and will run for a week and is sponsored by the New Zealand High Commissioner.

The winners of the ANZAC day essay writing competition will also be announced and prizes presented on that day.

The guest speaker for the day is the Australian High Commissioner Sue Langford and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi.

A brief ceremony will also be conducted at the Magiagi cemetery for the Australian soldiers buried there.

President Tuala Ponifasio is inviting the families and descendants of all returned servicemen past and present to the Dawn Parade and the traditional breakfast that follows at the RSA Club.