Don Bosco Siva in American Samoa

 

17 April 2015 | General Interest

Don Bosco Dances for Flag Day

Friday 17 April 2015: Flag Day American Samoa

Friday 17 April 

Another early start. We were up, washed, had completed our morning prayer and finished breakfast all in time for a 7:00am departure for the Veterans’ Stadium, where the Official Flag Day Ceremony and March Past was to be held. Half an hour later we joined the many other groups, villages, associations and schools ready to participate in the ceremony.

 A series of speeches, the raising of the American and American Samoan flags, the singing of the National Anthem preceded the March Past. Each group that marched past was given a round of applause. When we marched past, we briefly stopped, face the stadium and did a quick ten second dance, which was received with thunderous applause and shouts of joy.

 We returned to Utulei and had just enough time to change into our dance uniform and have some lunch before setting out once more for the Vetrans’ Stadium, this time for the Cultural Entertainment, including “siva” (dancing) and “pese” (singing).

Groups representing every district and island within American Samoa gave wonderful performances celebrating Samoan culture. Some groups sang, others danced, yet others danced and sang. There were a variety of styles and themes. Some reflected serious themes, some rejoiced in the history and tradition of the Samoan people, and others were just plain fun.

Siva Amerika SamoaAfter each group’s performed they retired to the shade of marquees to rest and enjoy the next performance. The large crowd in the main stand of the stadium was delighting in the spectacle. Our host informed us that this was unusual. Under normal circumstances, we were told, the performing groups depart after completing performance and the crowds thin out as the afternoon wears on. But not this year! This year they all stayed. They were waiting for Don Bosco.

As the official guests of the Government we were the last to perform. As our name was called the stadium erupted in cheers and shouts. This was the moment everyone had been waiting for. This was the moment for which we had trained for nine weeks. Our series of dances included the serious and the comic, the traditional and the contemporary. The characteristic vibrancy of Don Bosco’s style of dancing was deeply appreciated by the large crowd of local and foreign dignitaries, the other performers and the large local crowd.

Our “Orator”, who spoke on our behalf, expressed our respect to our hosts, reiterated the friendship that exists between the two Samoas and invited all to enjoy the performance of the Don Bosco group. Each dance was greeted with repeated rounds of extended applause and cheering, something that doesn’t normally happen in Samoan performances. The audience frequently erupted in appreciation at special moments in particular dances. It was a joy to behold the way our boys captured the love of the people of American Samoa.

Then came the “pese” or song. This is no ordinary song … it is a specially composed traditional piece that tells the story of the visiting group and the connections between the visitors and the hosts, expresses gratitude to the hosts and commemorates the occasion being celebrated. The lyrics of our song were penned by the Prime Minister of Samoa and the music composed by one of Samoa’s leading and most experienced traditional musicians. The song is long. It went for over twenty minutes and our staff and students knew it all by heart. Again, it included the serious and the comic, moments of reflection and moments of celebration.

We all left the Vetrans’ Stadium exhausted but elated. We had come to sing and dance and we were as happy with our performance as others seemed to be.

 

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