PM Tuilaepa made quite an impression on his recent visit to Fiji by wandering around the Suva market like an ordinary citizen, chatting up the vendors and showing his human side.
The Fiji media picked up on the uncharacteristic activities for a prominent political leader and made him a people’s champion.
The report did not say whether Bainimarama take similar walks in a busy public place in the Fijian capital.
If not then what better way to show him up than to see the Prime Minister of Samoa eating fried fish with lemon like he was at home.
Security wise, there are always elements of risk at his down with the people ‘walkabouts’. Lots of crazy people around one can never be too careful, even with security officers for his safe guard.
Nobody wants to imagine what the fall out would be like if any serious harm should come to him in a foreign country.
Was the PM grandstanding by rubbing shoulders with the common folks or was he being a normal person like everyone else?
A bit of both perhaps. His critics, especially the vocal ones, would castigate him as showboating.
In fact, one did exactly that on social media with claims that he never walks around the market in Apia.
Slanderous attacks on the PM is common place on the online forum and this one was just normal.
What made it abnormal was the thunderous blasting from the PM’s supporters who were so intense there was nothing left to spit out when they had done chewing up the critic.
Tuilaepa is a regular at the Savalalo Fish market and even at flea markets, although he is not known to be a pork pun sort of person.
Notable among his online supporters were Fijians who were probably genuine in their admiration of the Samoan leader or doing so for their own political reasons.
Fiji have their own political loyalties as we do in Samoa and wherever the democracy of governing is practiced.
The sceptics have their own suspicions to ponder, probably on the bigger scale beyond the national to the regional level.
Our Blue Pacific region has turned into a rare little jewel surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean that the leading superpowers, China and USA, have taken a sudden liking to.
The burst of interest has magnified into a highly sensitive geopolitical arm wrestling, alarm bells are set off when a veteran leader like Tuilaepa starts to worry about possible threatening fallouts for the region.
Politics at this level are played at a much higher field of influence for Blue Pacific region members, especially by the more influential ones.
Australia in particular has the leadership muscle to wield among the membership, Samoa included.
Statesmanship is where the PM holds respectful sway, as a leader who has grown long in the tooth when it comes to regional politics.
Is that why he was walking the Suva market place? Maybe! It is also possible that he has wandering feet that demands regular ‘walkabouts’ to breath in real air where people at the grassroots are.
Several sellers at the Savalalo Fish Market have already learned of the PM’s secret when they see him come around.
He loves to bargain for a good price of fish to take home.
He has his little habits like any normal person.
The Tui Atua back when he was PM Tupuola Efi preferred to walk bare feet.
One news headline once described him as the barefoot Samoan PM in a rush.
In the case of Tuilaepa he would probably fit into a news headline of the Samoan PM in a hurry for a market bargain.
People do walk around barefoot and they also bargain for a better price of fish at the market. There is nothing unusual about that.
What makes it unusual is when it is a Prime Minister or someone of that level of prominence who does that.
Imagine the reaction of the millions of LDS Church followers in the world if President Nelson was seen eating ‘oka’ at the Savalalo Fish Market, during the prophet’s weekend visit?
Granted these individuals are political and religious celebrities, but why is it a big deal when they behave like us normal human beings?
Tui Atua prefers to walk with out shoes. Tuilaepa gets a buzz from checking out the market place at home or in Suva.
They are being who they are - normal human beings.