The life and times of the unique and well-loved President of the Samoa Faafafine Association, So’oalo To’oto’oalii Roger Stanley, was celebrated yesterday.
Family, friends and members of the Fa’afafine community gathered at the E.F.K.S. hall in Sogi where they shared tears and laughter as they recollected memories of their beloved So’oalo.
He was was fondly known in the Fa’afafine community as “Mama” because of his tendency to be a refuge for those seeking help and guidance from the community.
Eulogies were given by his mother Aniuteattetta Afamasaga Leuluaialii Abel Stanley, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, his eldest sister Tofilau Sonya Leilani Stanley – Levy, Vice president of the S.F.A, Alex Su’a, and Reverend Kerisiano Soti.
As the Patron of the Samoa Faafafine Association, P.M. Tuilaepa spoke fondly about So’oalo and retold the story of when So’oalo approached him about starting a collective for Faafafine and then again to ask him to be a Patron of the S.F.A.
He praised So’oalo’s courage and leadership in leading the S.F.A and their work in raising funds for charity.
The Prime Minister spoke highly of his “children” in the S.F.A. and said that people should never look down on fa’afafine because God made them.
In Samoa, he said we have four genders of male, female, fa’atama and fa’afafine.
People like and those like him are special because they have many talents being able to do the work of both male and female in our society.
So’oalo’s eldest sister Tofilau said that the Prime Minister’s attendance was special because her brother always looked up to him and was thankful for his patronage and connection with the members of the S.F.A.
“He had a great respect for his ‘Papa’ Tuilaepa and I tell you what he was a very blessed boy and son of Samoa to this extraordinary friend,” said Tofilau.
“Roger saw the Prime Minister as a father figure, he lost our father when we were very young and in his speech about why God created people like Roger and the other sons and daughters of the Palemia, I feel that Roger was blessed to have him at the service. We are very blessed to have his attendance today.”
Tofilau told the Samoa Observer that So’oalo’s passing was still a shock to her and that she was shattered at the loss of her baby brother.
“It’s a massive agony, it’s a shock,” she said. “I am still shattered and only God can heal my pain. I don’t know why he hurt me again but he knows I dare to be a different woman of God and I question that a few times since my brother passed away."
“It’s just so hard and difficult, it’s another shattered agonizing moment of my life because Roger was like very hardworking brother, my ‘ lamolemole’ baby brother as I call him."
“Everything that he had I will miss. He had brains and knowledge to do everything and I supported him financially and he’s the one that does all the hard work that’s the thing I miss him so much. He’s my great loss and I’m devastated. I don’t know how many years it’s going to take to get over him.”
Tofilau said that the outpouring of love with messages of condolences from Samoans and all over the world were comforting and they also made her very proud of her brother, the life and work he had completed here in this life.
“I was like his second mum and his best advisor, I was always behind him, spiritually, politically, real life, educationally and how he behaves – you know him, I am so proud of him. Because I gather from all the testimonies, all the molimaus’ about his life and I’m a very proud sister.”