The Samoa Observer recently ran an article written by Soli Wilson about how the Robert Louis Stevenson Foundation Incorporated marked their silver jubilee by celebrating the life of prominent Scottish storyteller Robert Louis Stevenson in a garden party the other night at the museum of the same name at Vailima, Samoa.
Jim Winegar, the Robert Louis Stevenson Foundation Inc. (R.L.S.F.) President, relayed remarks from Scotland’s Minister of Culture Fiona Jane Hyslop – whom they had extended an invitation to for the silver jubilee anniversary celebrations:
“The life and contribution of the great Robert Louis Stevenson has created a strong connection between our two countries. Celebrations like this keep the connection alive and we are keen to build and strengthen this link, and I look forward to areas for future collaboration. Although I cannot attend in person, I would like to wish you a successful event today.”
Tilafaiga Rex Maughan, the Chairman of the R.L.S.F., was not able to attend the anniversary celebration but was able to relay his message through Mr Winegar. While expressing his regret at not being able to attend, Tilafaiga said he would rather be on the verandah at Villa Vailima to celebrate the life of everyone’s favourite author. “For the past 25 years, we made sure that we have a gathering as an expression of our alofa and fa’aaloalo tele for his life and his works, his moral character and his life,” Winegar read.
The Minister added, “I marvel at his courage and bravery as he dealt with his chronic lung problem. He had a challenge of ill health all his life but the climate and surrounding of the people of Samoa gave him the health he needed to continue living. Basically moving to Samoa gave him almost five additional years of life with a quality that he had not known before.”
Community service awards were also presented to various guests during the silver jubilee celebrations garden party. “People who have in unusual ways – who have contributed to the life and the quality of life that we have here in Samoa to remember things historically – to make sure that things are appropriate and that the memory of Tusitala remains strong,” added Mr Winegar.
The prestigious award of the night was given to the late Joe Keil. Winegar introduced the award by saying it is for the countless contributions that the late businessman and former politician had made, for the preservation of documents and artifacts of historical significant, throughout the years.
“He’s been a guest speaker and he’s always had a lot to say about Tusitala and Samoan history. But I don’t think he’s missed any in the past 24 years Robert Louis Stevenson memorial events. His passion for Samoan history made it mandatory that he’d be present,” he said in his introduction.
The night progressed under the beautifully decorated villa with musical selections and entertainment in between more speeches delivered by special guests.