Late King of Samoa Recognized as a Baha’i Throughout the World

This video clip from New Zealand’s Baha’i On Air channel features the late Samoan Head of State, His Highness Susuga Malietoa Tanumafili II (often referred to as the King of Samoa), who was humbled by a birthday message from the Universal House of Justice, the world governing body of the Baha’i Faith, who acknowledged his devoted service to the people of Samoa and to the world. 

Malietoa Tanumafili II GCMG CBE (4 January 1912 – 11 May 2007), also called Susuga, was the Malietoa, the title of one of Samoa’s four paramount chiefs, and the head of state, or O le Ao o le Malo, a position that he held for life, of Samoa from 1962 to 2007. He was co-chief of state in 1962 and became the sole head of state on 15 April 1963. At the time of his death, he was the oldest national leader in the world. It is a common mistake to believe that the Malietoa title is a title equivalent to a king-ship. Malietoa is known as the first warrior title, and is respected not as a King, but as a Tamaaiga or Ao Mamalu ole Malo.

“As the first reigning sovereign to accept the Message of Baha’u’llah, he set a record that will forever illumine the annals of our Faith, one that future generations will increasingly extol,” the Universal House of Justice said in a statement to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Samoa. “His great interest for well-nigh four decades in the Faith’s progress was reflected in the enthusiastic affirmation of his belief whenever the opportunity presented itself and in the abiding joy with which he regarded the construction in 1984 of the Mother Temple of the Pacific Islands in Samoa….” Following his passing and his state funeral, a memorial service was held for His Highness at the Baha’i House of Worship in Apia.

You can read more about Malietoa Tanumafili II in this tribute post from the Baha’i World News Service: Funeral and memorial service planned for Samoan head of state

Found out more about the Baha’i Faith in Samoa from this Baha’i Blog article, Celebrating 60 Years of the Baha’i Faith in Samoa, or by visiting the official website for the Baha’is of Samoa.

You may enjoy other Baha’i On Air videos, which can be found on their YouTube channel: We also interviewed Ken Zemke, Baha’i on Air’s producer, here on Baha’i Blog.

About the Author

Naysan is the editor of Baha'i Blog and he has worked in various avenues of media for two decades. He’s passionate about using the arts and media to support and explore the teachings of the Baha’i Faith and he has produced and collaborated on popular music projects like the "DawnBreaker Collective" and the successful Ruhi-inspired sequence of "MANA" albums. His experience as a producer for CNN was invaluable while working on a number of special projects for the Baha’i World Centre, including the "Building Momentum" and "Pilgrimage: A Sacred Experience" videos. If there’s a media-related Baha’i project out there, chances are that Naysan was involved with it somehow!

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