The sound of church bells filled the air and sirens rang from Samoa’s police posts across the country to mark its independence day.
Samoa was the first Pacific nation to gain independence. It was under the rule of New Zealand when independence was granted.
The nation signaled the start of its 12 month long celebration at midnight, followed by a flag raising ceremony by the nation’s first female Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa.
A 21-gun salute was also accorded.
Ms Mata’afa said there would be a bigger celebration in September when the borders open for international travel, with dignitaries from partner nations.
The year long celebration will see the revival of the annual Teuila Festival which was on the back burner due to the pandemic.
Villages and districts in Samoa will hold festivities in their special ways during the 12 month celebration.
United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken in his message to Samoa said the close friendship between Samoa and the United States is rooted in strong historical, cultural, economic, and people-to-people ties.
“Our longstanding partnership in building an open, connected, prosperous, resilient, and secure Indo-Pacific has enabled us to tackle numerous challenges, including responding to the global pandemic,” he said.
“Together, we will advance our shared climate goals and expand bilateral trade and investment. I look forward to deepening our comprehensive relationship with Samoa in the coming year.”
UN Resident Coordinator Simona Marinescu said Samoa was a true Pacific pioneer.
“As the first Pacific nation to gain its independence in 1962, Samoa has served as a great model of determination and commitment to bettering the lives of its people and advancing sustainable development on its islands and in the region,” she said.
“In 1976, Samoa joined the United Nations fully embracing the Charter and the values of the organization and bringing the voice of the people of the Pacific on the global stage.”