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