Samoa Centenarian, Mama Tele Semu passes away in her granddaughter’s arms, aged 102

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Sat 23 July 2022, Apia Samoa. Samoan centenarian, Mrs Tele Semu, lived a remarkable life, and passed away peacefully in her grand-daughter’s arms at their family home in Tufulele; where today, she was laid to rest. She was 102 years old, and died with no signs of illness.

Mama Tele’s grand-daughter and namesake, Ms Tele Tito Aiataaloga, shares her final moments with her beloved grandmother in the early hours of Wednesday 6th July. A day she will remember for the rest of her life.

“Mama woke up at around 3am and said her morning prayers, then she asked me to come and fofo her head and legs.. I asked if she was in any pain, but she said, no.”

“As I massaged her head, she looked up at me and started chatting away,” shares Tele.

“She told me to make sure I look after my children well.. and she told me to take good care of my young family..”

“Tautuaga ma oe tamaiti..vaai faalelei.. ma tausi lelei lou aiga.”

Tele Semu on her 100th birthday. Photo: Francis Faalili.

Mama Tele was born on the 20th of April 1920 at her home in Falevai Falelatai. She was the eldest in a family of 12. In an interview with SGN on her 102nd birthday, Mama Tele said that she had outlived seven of her younger siblings. She had nine children of her own, and was blessed with 74 grandchildren, 105 great grandchildren, and 15 great-great grandchildren. Of all her children, her grand-daughter named after her, had spent the most time with Mama Tele.

“When she passed away, it was just the two of us.. everyone else in our family was asleep…

“Suddenly she grabbed hold of my hand. I tried to sit her up, but she looked straight at me and said goodbye with tears her eyes..”

“Na ou te’i ina ua mau i lo’u lima ma ou taumafai loa e faanofo mai i luga ae sa faaasaga mai lava i ou foliga ma faatofa mai ma maligi ona loimata..”

“My grandma died lying on my arm while she held onto my other hand..”

“Na uma lona ola o loo taoto i luga o lo’u lima ae mau i lesi ou lima.”

Tele says she is at peace with her grandmother’s passing, but misses her a lot.

“Ou te mafanafana lava, ae ua ou misia lava ia, ma maligi o’u loimata ona ua le toe vaaia o ia.”

“Im at peace because we spent a lot of time together and I’m grateful to God for that.”

Tele Tito with her grandmother on her 102nd birthday.

Tele says her Mama was the easiest person to care for.. “she was never fussy with food, and appreciated anything we made for her.”

Mama Tele used to work for the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (EFKS) at Malua, and this job had helped her to care for her children.

“She did her own chores around the house, and used to love going outside..she would go outside and weed the garden..”

Mama Tele died three months after celebrating her 102nd birthday in April with her family.

“O le vaiaso atoa lava sa talanoa mai ia au, ma faimai afai e oti o a’u e nofo i le aiga aua nei o’u aluese. Oa foi mea e mananao ai tuafafine o lo’u tama, ia ou faia, ma o a’u o le a faaauauina ana galuega.”

Mama Tele’s funeral survice was held today, Saturday 23rd July, where she was laid to rest at her home in Tufulele.