Obituary: Orator who joked with the king is  laid to rest

    At a time when it was strictly taboo in Tongan culture for commoners to personally address the king in public Viliami Pousima Afeaki was different.

    At an inter-collegiate sport competition in 1990s held at the Teufaiva Park Viliami was the master of ceremonies (MC).

    His oratorical skills keep spectators listening to him while they watched the various competitions.

    Some people climbed the trees outside the Teufaiva stadium so they could watch the competitions.

    Unfortunately, the branch of a mango tree in which some of them were sitting suddenly broke and the people fell to the ground.

    Viliami, who was in the stadium building with spectators and the king, could clearly see these people falling.

    Viliami then humorously addressed the king about the incident and said: “Your Majesty, there is another competition out there on the eastern side outside Teufaiva, but those competitors were competing to see who could first touch the ground.”

    His jest was received with a smile from the king and a laughter from the spectators.

    But why did Viliami risk making a joke with the king in public?

    One of the answers could be because of his very close ties to the monarchy.

    The name Afeaki is a royal title and means the king’s herald. Viliami’s father, the late Soakimi Pousima Afeaki, a lawyer and Member of Parliament for Ha’apai, was appointed to the position.

    Afeaki is one of the Fale Ha’akili, the only ha’a (group of heralds) who are allowed to mix and mingle with the king. They can talk to the king in the commoner’s language and even eat together and joke with the king.

    Apart from being a Member of the Tongan Parliament for six years, Viliami was a high school teacher, a broadcaster and an orator.

    In July 1996 to June 2004 Viliami became the Director of Utah State Office of Polynesian affairs (Utah State Governors office of Ethnic Affairs).

    In July 2004 until June 2007 he was appointed by the George Bush adminstration to the post of Commissioner Presidential Advisory Commission for Asian Americans &Pacific Islanders (White House Appointment – Washington DC).

    In 2007 the government of Tonga appointed him as an adviser on Reconciliation and Civic Education.

    It was during this time that Tonga’s Public Service Act was amended to require public servants who wanted to contest elections to resign before registering as candidates.

    He told the media the amendment was made after the government considered there was a conflict of interest if public servants remained as paid government officers while running for Parliament.

    Viliami was known to many for his brilliant command of English and Tongan, an aptitude clearly shown when he was regularly assigned to become an MC and translator at many national, public and church events.

    His oratorical talent and skills were a significant credit to the Afeaki clans as whenever people showed their approval and admiration when Viliami addressed the public, their remarks linked him with his father, his service to the nation in politics and also the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of which he was a member.

    Viliami was originally a Catholic, but became a Mormon after he divorced his first wife. This was a legal dissolution not accepted by the Catholic church.

    Viliami is survived by his wife Henrietta Suliana and eight children.

    He had two daughters from his previous marriage, Victorina Kioa and Emily Afeaki.

    He also had a son, Stanley Havea, before he married Suliana, with whom he had five children: Telesia Tonga, William Pousima Afeaki, Nikolasi Afeaki, Finau Afeaki and Kitekei’aho Afeaki.

    Viliami was the seventh of 11 children of the late Soakimi Pousima Afeaki and Lisia Fatongiahe’a Vea Afeaki.

    It is understood he and nine of his siblings were qualified in different fields of education from various universities.

    Viliami, 65,  was born on May 26, 1950 and died of heart complications on March 22, 2016 while in hospital.

    He was buried on April 1 at the Salt Lake City Cemetery in Utah, United States.

    The main points

    • At a time when it was strictly taboo in Tongan culture for commoners to personally address the king in public Viliami Pousima Afeaki was different.
    • He famously joked with the king at an inter-collegiate sport competition in 1990s when spectators sitting in a tree outside Teufaiva Park Viliami fell off the branch.
    • Viliami, who died aged 65 on March 22, was a Member of Parliament for six years, a high school teacher, broadcaster and orator.
    • He was known to many for his brilliant command of English and Tongan and was regularly assigned to become an MC and translator at many national, public and church events.

    1 COMMENT

    1. ʻI ha taimi ne fuʻu tapu ʻaupito ʻi he anga faka-Tongá ke fakatau folofola fakahangatonu ha taha tuʻa ki he tuʻí ʻi he ngaahi feituʻu kakaí, ne kehe pe ʻa Viliami Afeaki ia.

      Ne tataki kātoanga (MC) ʻa Viliami he taha e ngaahi sipoti fakakolisi he 1990 tupú ne fakahoko ʻi he Paʻake Teufaivá

      Ne hoko ʻene leʻo afeá ke tuʻutelinga pe kakaí kiate ia lolotonga ʻoku nau mamataʻi e ngaahi feʻuhi kehekehe he sipoti ne fakahokó.

      Ne ʻi ai ha niʻihi ne ne kaka ʻi ha ngaahi fuʻu ʻakau he tuʻa Teufaivá tafaʻaki fakahahaka koeʻuhi ke nau lava sio ki he sipotí.

      Meʻapango pe ne fokifā ha mofesi e vaʻa ʻo ha fuʻu mango ne heka ai ha niʻihi ʻo kinautolu o nau ngangana ki lalo.

      Naʻe ʻi he fale mamataʻanga sipoti Teufaivá ʻa Viliami fakataha mo e kakau mamata pehē ki he tuʻí.

      Ne fakataufolofola atu leva heni ʻa Viliami ki he tuʻí ʻo ne fakakata atuʻaki e fengānganaʻi ko ʻení.
      “ʻE hoʻo ʻAfio ko e kiʻi maaʻimoa ē ʻe taha ʻoku fai mai ia mei he tafaʻaki fakahahaké ka ko ʻenau feʻauhi ʻa kinautolu ia pe ko hai ʻe ʻuluaki aʻu ki he kelekelé.

      Ne lōlofia heni e tuʻí pea vā e matanga he foʻi fakahua ʻa Viliamí.

      Ka ko e hā ke fai ai ʻe Viliami ha ngaahi fietaautau peheni ki he tuʻí he haʻohaʻonga ʻo ha kakai tokolahi.

      Ko e taha e tali ki aí ʻe lava koeʻuhī pe ko ʻene pīkinga ofi mo e tuʻí.

      Ko e Afeakí ko e hingoa matāpule ia. Naʻe fakanofo ia he tamai ʻa Viliamí, ʻa Siokimi Pousima Afeaki kuó ne pekiá, ʻa ia ko ha loea peá ne ne toe fakafofonga Fale Alea foki maʻa Haʻapai.

      ʻOku kau ʻa Afeaki ki he kau Fale Haʻakilí , ko e haʻa pe ʻeni ʻe taha he kotoa e kau matāpule ʻa e tuʻí ʻoku ʻatā ke nau feohi mo ʻEne ʻAfió ʻo fai ʻa e ngaahi meʻa angamaheni ʻa e kakai tuʻá. ʻOku nau lea pe kinautolu ki he tuʻí ʻi he lea angamaheni ʻoku fai ki tuʻá, nau kai fakataha mo e tuʻí pea aʻu pe ki heʻenau fakakata.

      Makehe mei heʻene hoko ko e Fakafofonga Fale Alea maʻa Tonga ʻi ha taʻu ʻe ono, naʻe faiako ʻa Viliami ʻi he akoʻanga māʻolungā hoko ko e tokotaha faifakamafolalea pea toe tufungalea foki.

      ʻI he 2007 naʻe fakanofo ai ia ʻe he puleʻanga Tonga ki he lakanga ko e faifaleʻi he tafaʻaki ki he Reconciliation and Civic Education.

      Lolotonga ʻene ngāue ko ʻeni ki he puleʻangá ne hoko ai ʻa hono liliu ʻo e lao ki he kau ngāue fakapuleʻanga ʻo tuʻutuʻuni ko kinautolu kotoa ngāue fakapuleʻanga ka ʻoku fie fili Fale Alea ʻe pau ke nau ʻuluaki fakafisi pea nau toki lēsisita ko e kanititeiti.

      Ne fakahā ai ʻe Viliami ki he mitiá naʻe vakaiʻi ʻe he puleʻangá ʻa e fakakaukau naʻe ʻi ai ʻa e fepaki ʻi he fiemaʻú kapau ʻe kei hokohoko atu pe kau ngāue fakapuleʻanga ʻo vahe mei he puleʻangá taimi tatau kuo politiki ia he teu fili Fale Aleá.

      Naʻe ʻiloa ʻa Viliami ki he tokolahi ʻi he pōtoʻi fakahifo leá ʻo tatau he lea fakapālangí mo e lea faka-Tongá, ko hano tufakanga ne ʻikai toe fakaʻuliʻulilātai ko e meʻa ia ne toutou fili ai ia ke ne hoko ko e tataki kātonga mo liliu lea ʻi he ngaahi meʻa fakafonua, papiliki mo e siasi.

      Naʻe toe hoko foki ʻene pōtoʻi mo talēniti fakahifo leá ko ha fakakoloa koloa lahi ki he haʻa Afeakí koeʻuhi he ko e taimi kotoa pe fakahā ʻe he kakai haʻanau mālieʻia he lakulaku lea ʻa Viliamí ten au ʻohake ai pē hisitōlia ʻene ngāue ki he fonuá he politimí pehē ki he Siasi ʻo Sīsū Kalaisi ʻo e kau Māʻoniʻoni ʻo e Ngaahi ʻAho ki muí ni ʻa ia ne ne kau ki aí.

      Ko Viliami ne tupuʻi Katolika ka koeʻuhī ne ne vet emo hono ʻuluaki malí pea naʻe pau ai ke ne fili e Māmonga ko hano siasi foʻou ia.

      ʻOku tapui ʻe he Katolika ʻa e mali veté pea ʻe pau ke tuʻusi ha taha mali vete mei he siasí.

      ʻOku kei moʻui pe ʻa e fānau ʻe toko fitu ʻa Viliami mo hono hoa ʻofaʻangá ʻa Henrietta Suliana.

      Naʻe ʻi ai hono ongo ʻofefine ʻe toko ua mo hono ʻuluaki malí ko Victorina Kioa mo Emily Afeaki.

      Naʻe toe ʻi ai mo hono foha ko Stanley Havea ki muʻa ia pea toki mali mo Henrietta ʻo ʻi ai ʻena fānau ʻe toko 5 ʻa ia ko Telesia Tonga, William Pousima Afeaki, Nikolasi Afeaki, Finau Afeaki mo Kitekei’aho Afeaki.

      Naʻe fika fitu ʻa Viliami he fānau ʻe toko 11 kotoa ʻa Soakimi Pousima Afeaki mo Lisia Fatongiahe’a Vea Afeaki.
      ʻOku mahino foki ko Viliami mo e toko hiva ʻi hono fanga tuofāfine mo tokouá ne nau maʻu mataʻitohi kotoa mei he ʻunivēsití.

      Naʻe fāʻeleʻi ʻa Viliami ʻi Mē ʻaho 26, 1950 peá ne mālōlō ʻi he ʻaho 22 Māʻasi 2016 ʻi hono taʻu 65.
      Ne tanu ia ʻi he faʻitoka Salt Lake City Cemetery ʻi Utah, ʻAmelika

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