4 April 2021, Apia Samoa Matamua Seumanu Vasati Sili is one of 21 women candidates competing in Samoa’s general elections and she says it is a challenge she has humbly stepped into, with intentions to do good for the people of her constituency.
One of six women running under the banner of FAST, Matamua is also the lone candidate up against the Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, for the hot seat of Faasaleleaga No1 – the district with the gateway to Savaii.
Matamua says politics was never on her agenda, especially since she had come to know the many challenges of general elections during the time of her late husband, Afioga Sili Tiata Leatigaga Fiu Pulufana.
Matamua’s late husband was a Member of Parliament for two terms – for almost 10 years he was well known as a Savaii politician with a no-nonsense, straight forward approach.
“I lost my husband nearly ten years ago. He didn’t win his seat back in the 2011 general elections, and he passed away at the end of that same year,” shares Matamua.
“I experienced first hand the challenges of being a candidate during my husband’s time in Parliament and I never thought I would one day be doing this, but I am humbled and glad for the opportunity to take on this challenge because my aim is to do good for my constituency, and bring positive change for Samoa,” Matamua said.
Matamua Seumanu Vasati was educated at Leifiifi College and Samoa College before she took up an opportunity in New Zealand to complete high school. She returned to pursue Secondary Teachers College (STC) back in 1989 and went on to become a teacher at Wesley College.
When Matamua Vasati married, she focused on developing her family as a mother, and supported her husband during the almost ten years he was a Member of Parliament.
Matamua says she agreed to take on the challenge of putting herself out there as an election candidate because it was time to step up and speak out on issues she feels, are impacting her constituency and Samoa.
“I believe we have to be more diligent in looking after our faasinomaga and measina,” she said, referring to cultural heritage, lands and titles.
“Some of the lands here at my village of Salelologa were sold for peanuts, and without land there is no future for our children,” says the 58 year old proud mother of 9 children and 22 grandchildren.
“That is one of the main motivations for me – to protect our heritage, and make sure our measina is protected for the next generation”, says Matamua Seumanu.
Matamua says being a woman candidate comes with its own unique challenges, and even more so running against Samoa’s Finance Minister.
“I am humbled and happy to take on the challenge,” she says.
“As I’ve said, it was never my intention to run because I saw that it wasn’t easy when my husband was also a politician. It takes all your time, your money and your attention away from your family,” she said.
“But with my children now all grown and settled with their own families, I am able to take this on, with their blessing and support..”
Matamua says she doesn’t have any promises for her constituency except for a promise to do what is right, and to listen to the voice of the people.
She adds whatever the outcome of the general election, she is thankful to God for giving her the courage to give it her all, and to show her constituency her commitment to protecting their heritage for future generations to come.
“Once again, measina, faasinomaga and the environment are the three important things that motivated me to run – because the impacts are very real.. It is right at my doorstep, and I have to do something aboit it,” she concluded.