Samoans have begun celebrating their 50th Anniversary of Independence from New Zealand. Cultural festivals and sporting events are taking place in the capital city of Apia, and church services and community events will take place in outlying villages as Samoa marks half a century since it became the first South Pacific nation to gain its independence from a colonial power.
Over the past week, the white-painted rocks that line Apia’s streets have been repainted, as have the road markings. School children and church groups will line Apia’s streets at dawn, ahead of the arrival of Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, to mark the raising of the Samoan flag in 1962. Thousands of people also plan to attend a special concert by British band UB40.
In 1962, Samoa signed a Treaty of Friendship with New Zealand granting Samoa its independence and defining its relationship with New Zealand. Samoa and New Zealand are conducting artist exchanges to mark the Golden Jubilee and to underscore their continued commitment to the Treaty of Friendship. The artists will include tattooists from Samoa. Tattooing is a traditional Samoan art form with a centuries long history.
Samoa was the first Pacific Island country to obtain political autonomy. Previous to 1962, Samoa experienced 63 years of foreign administration. First it was a colony of Germany (1899-1914), then a trusteeship of New Zealand (1914-1962) under a mandate from the League of Nations. Through the Fono Faavae – the Constitutional Convention (1958-1961) that comprised of representation from all districts in the country – Samoa adopted a national constitution based on Christian principles and Samoan traditions.
Samoa is a country encompassing the western part of the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. The two main islands of Samoa are Upolu and one of the biggest islands in Polynesia, Savai’i. The capital city, Apia, and Faleolo International Airport are situated on the island of Upolu. It’s population is 183,000 people.
The Samoa Independence Day brings locals together but it is also a big attraction for tourists interested in Samoan traditional culture and local popular sports.