CONCERN OVER TONGAN GROUP'S ELIMINATION AT MINI-GAMES CLOSING CEREMONY

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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (August 24, 1997 - Samoa News)---Eliminating the Tonga Methodist Church youth group's performance at the South Pacific Mini Games Closing Ceremony last Wednesday has drawn criticism from Governor Tauese Sunia and other community leaders.

The American Samoa Arts Council, which was in charge of the "cultural entertainment" for the event, decided to "cut the Tongan group" from the performance list "because of time constraints," according to a Mini-Games official.

As a result, Rev. Funaki Ofa of the Tonga Methodist Church group said his organization will never again participate in any culture events coordinated by the Arts Council.

His son, Masiva Ofa, who coordinated the group's planned performance, called the Arts Council's program change "prejudice."

However, Arts Council Chairman Fagafaga Daniel Langkilde, in a public statement, said the Tongan Methodist group was not supposed to provide special entertainment, but only participate as part of the group presenting gifts to athletes and visiting dignitaries during the Closing Ceremony.

Governor Tauese formally apologized to the Tongan group for what he considered a schedule change and asked the Arts Council to "offer immediate restitution and/or resolution to prevent any further embarrassment."

Governor Tauese also said that "in the future, I expect improved communications and planning to avoid a similar recurrence."

The Council Chairman also apologized and stated that "As God is my witness, there was no intention on the Arts Council's part to cause any embarrassment or to show any disrespect to anyone on the evening of the closing ceremonies."

Several letters to theSamoa News editor, also criticized the Arts Council for the way it handled the unfortunate incident.

The American Samoa Arts Council receives funding from the U.S National Endowment for the Arts for various cultural and arts performances.

Stories from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to >samoanews@samoatelco.com

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