#TodayInHistory Malietoa Tanumafili II addressed Susuga Malietoa Tanumafili II was born 4 January 1913 as the son and third child of his parents, Malietoa Tanumafili I and Momoe Lupeuluiva Meleisea.
He was the Head of State of Samoa; a position he held for life, from Samoa’s Independence in 1962 until he passed away 11 May 2007.
He was co-head of state in 1962 with the tama-a-‘aiga Tupua Tamasese Mea’ole and became the sole head of state from 15 April 1963 when Tupua Tamasese passed away.
At the time of his death, at 94 years of age, Malietoa Tanumafili II was the oldest national leader in the world, and was also the last incumbent president-for-life in the world.
Tanumafili officially inherited the royal title of Malietoa in 1940, following the 1939 death of his father, Malietoa Tanumafili I.
His Highness, Malietoa was raised by his parents until he attained the age of seven. Then he was taken to Malie to learn the royal duties of a prince. He attended the village school there and then continued his education at Marist Brothers in Mulivai.
His grammar school education was in Fiji at the Suva Grammar School for a year. Then he went to seek higher education in Saint Stevens, Wesley College in Auckland, New Zealand. He returned to Western Samoa in 1939. Upon the death of his father, Malietoa Tanumafili I, he was appointed fautua in 1940 and took part in the political affairs of his country.
His majestic presence, and serene voice will always be remembered in all important government functions as a symbolic representation of our great country.
Malietoa was an active athlete during his younger years. His favourite sports included boxing, rugby and cricket. Malietoa’s interest in sports continued throughout his life and he was an avid golfer well into his 90s. He could often be seen driving his golf cart around Samoa.
His wife, Lili Tunu, died in 1986. Tanumafili had eleven children during his life: Suʻa Vainuupo, Afioga Malietoa Papaliʻitele Faamausili Molī (the current holder of the Malietoa title), Papaliʻitele Titiuatoa, Papaliʻitele Ioane, Papaliʻitele Douglas (sons) and Seiuli Tutai, Lola Tosi and Momoe (daughters). One child died in infancy, while two of his sons, Papalii Laupepa and Papaliitele Eti, died in 1985 and 2005 respectively. At the time of his death, he had four surviving children – two sons and two daughters.
Malietoa Tanumafili II was a follower of the Baháʼí Faith. He was the first President and the first serving head of state to be a member of that religion. The Baháʼí House of Worship in Tiapapata, eight kilometres from the country’s capital of Apia, was dedicated by him in 1984.