Tonga 3 April: Nuku'alofa
Tonga embraces the Peace Run
A video of today's activities.
The Tongan Peace Run really took off today with a large program organised by our friends from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Education and Training. We started outside the Prime Minister’s Office. Unfortunately the Prime Minister was not well enough to attend but was represented by the Honourable Minister for Internal Affairs, Poasi Tei, and a Reverend who offered a prayer and blessing for the Peace Run.
We were extremely happy to be joined by a large contingent of elite athletes – runners, boxers and table tennis players. Their participation swelled our team, running from school to school for the entire day, helping our singing and holding the banner; it was absolutely Tonga’s Peace Run.
Students from Api-Foou College were lined up from the gate, all the way into the centre of the school grounds ...
The year 13 students in attendance were the only ones not sitting exams today. We were treated to their singing of “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”, their voices blending beautifully.
Principal Father Eknasi Manu, who received the certificate and artwork, made his own passionate speech for Peace.
After all the students came together for a photo, they spontaneously all gathered around and sang a most beautiful song to the Peace Torch before handing it onto the Peace Runners to continue on its journey.
At Malia Tukui-l-Makulata Primary School we were greeted by the students waiting excitedly for our arrival.
They regaled us with very sweet singing and after the teachers led the run around the field, they farewelled the team with song ...
... to Fasi Primary School to a very special welcome. Here decorated tables and chairs had been set up in the shade with special matting laid on the ground. Each of the team was garlanded.
Their principal Mrs. Oketi Akauola, said ‘we are so lucky to live in a country that is still peaceful. And we thank you for the exercise for finding peace in our hearts. This is such an important thing for us all to do.” They intend to have the students write essays on Peace in their English class.
The next instruction was ‘we will have lunch under the mango trees’ – where trays of sandwiches appeared and the baskets of fruit were unpacked.
Maybe a little sluggish at first after lunch, we soon regained our pace and ran into Queen Salote College, to the most extraordinary welcome. The thousand students at this boarding school for girls were in a continuous line from the front gate then all the way around the large quadrangle.
While two torches were passed around in opposite directions their brass band played, songs were launched ...
... with break out taolunga dancing, substantially encouraged by the principal who later spoke of the need to be “peaceful with yourself, peaceful with others; peaceful with the world”.
After the Peace Run presentation the grand finale was a rousing school chant, a warm up for the upcoming sports competition. The students and teachers were inspiring - as well as extremely entertaining: they were very soulful and receptive to the Peace Run.
Running up to GPS Fanga o Pilolevu school we saw all the students in large circles, which quickly changed into columns all the way up the driveway.
The young students were very enthusiastic as demonstrated by the big sprint with the torch straight down the field.
As we ran out on the way to the next school, many children ran up to the fence chanting "Peace Run!"
Teacher Asi Toutai Fale who has been teaching since the Peace Run began in 1987, accepted the Certificate and thanked the team for coming.