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Libyan Newswire

UN Secretary-General becomes Samoan chief

31 Aug 2014

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An honourary title held by high chiefs of Samoan villages has been bestowed on the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.

He received the title of “Tupua” or chief of Saleapaga, a village in south-east Samoa which was destroyed by the tsunami of 2009.

The title of Tupua is rarely given to dignitaries outside Samoa.

Wearing a traditional ‘siapo lavalava’ sarong around his waist and a beaded ‘palefuiono’ head band with feathers, the Secretary-General said he was privileged to take on the responsibility of being a Samoan chief.

“It is a great honour for me, to visit the Samoa, this time and particularly, I’m deeply honoured by blessing me, honouring me, by giving me the title of Tupua, Prince Tupua. It’s a great honour. I will abide by all these traditions and titles while I live and work as Secretary General of the United Nations.”

The people of Saleapaga rebuilt their village on higher ground and away from the coast in order to protect themselves from future tsunamis.

The Secretary-General is in Samoa to attend a conference on small island developing states or SIDS where delegates from over 100 countries will discuss how to combat climate change and other issues facing the SIDS.

Daniel Dickinson in Apia, Samoa