Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Director-General at Samoa Ceremony

Director-General at Samoa Ceremony

Apia, Samoa, 12 Apr 2013 -- In a traditional "Ava" Welcoming Ceremony in Matautu, Lefaga, the Chiefly traditional matai title of Tagaloaletoa Ole Malae Ole Toto was bestowed on FAO Director General, Jose Graziano da Silva. Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Le Mamea Ropati Mulia, who hails from Matautu, Lefaga village, opened the ceremony and introduced to the village their new chief.

Convoking a blessing on the day's proceedings, Reverend Esaloma Fatilua told the gathering of village Chiefs, Pacific Island Ministers of Agriculture, Diplomats Agency representatives and the community dwellers of Lefaga that God is the highest Matai. To receive the high honor of being a Matai, one has to learn how to follow and how to serve mankind. The son of God was such a persons. Normally, the designation of a Matai Chief is not conferred on non-heirs, this is done only in exceptional circumstances. When there is a person who has shown dedication to humanity, help for the poor and needy and willingness to serve irrespective of race, creed or color. Then such a person is deserving of the high honor. Director General  Graziano da Silva has proven himself to be such a person. He has dedicated his life to the fight against hunger, declared Reverend Esaloma Fatilua, and during his time as Minister in Brazil he helped to lift thousands from a life of hunger in society.

Responding to the Village Chiefs, Graziano  da Silva said that he was honored, on this his first visit to Samoa, to receive this high and prestigious title.  It is a big name and a big honor he declared. He pledged to serve the village, the poor and continue to work with dedication on achieving food security. He thanked all of the Chiefs for the bestowal of his Chiefly title and all those who had taken time to participate in the proceedings.

The historic day was likened by a village Chief to the famous words of the civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, who dreamed that one day his four children would live in a country where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Graziano da Silva is in Apia for the 10th Meeting of FAO South West Pacific Ministers of Agriculture, 11th - 13th April.