Cannibal tribe apologises for eating Methodists – Telegraph
Cannibal tribe apologises for eating Methodists – Telegraph

RSS
Telegraph RSS feeds
| Britain’s No.1 quality newspaper website | Make us your homepage
Tuesday 21 August 2007
telegraph.co.uk Hitwise
enhanced by Google
Home
News
Sport
Business
Travel
Jobs
Motoring
Property

SEARCH
Our siteWeb
SEARCH
Our siteWeb
News home
Law reports
Obituaries
Picture galleries
Announcements
Arts
Blogs
Comment
Crossword
Dating
Digital Life
Earth
Expat
Family
Fantasy Games
Fashion
Features
Food & Drink
Football
Gardening
Health
Horoscopes
My Telegraph
Obituaries
Science
Sudoku
Sunday Telegraph
Telegraph e-paper
Telegraph magazine
Telegraph offers
Telegraph PM
Weather
Your Money
Your view
NEWS SERVICES
Blackberry service
Desktop alerts
Email services
Home delivery
Photographs
Podcasts
RSS feeds
Weekly Telegraph
FEATURE FOCUS
back
forward
UK city breaks

Cannibal tribe apologises for eating Methodists

By Nick Squires in Sydney
Last Updated: 3:58am BST 20/08/2007

A tribe in Papua New Guinea has apologised for killing and eating four 19th century missionaries under the command of a doughty British clergyman.

Papuan tribesmen
Sorcery and witchcraft are still common in some Papuan tribes

The four Fijian missionaries were on a proselytising mission on the island of New Britain when they were massacred by Tolai tribesmen in 1878.

They were murdered on the orders of a local warrior chief, Taleli, and were then cooked and eaten.

The Fijians – a minister and three teachers – were under the leadership of the Reverend George Brown, an adventurous Wesleyan missionary who was born in Durham but spent most of his life spreading the word of God in the South Seas.

Thousands of villagers attended a reconciliation ceremony near Rabaul, the capital of East New Britain province, once notorious for the ferocity of its cannibals.

Their leaders apologised for their forefather’s taste for human flesh to Fiji’s high commissioner to Papua New Guinea.

“We at this juncture are deeply touched and wish you the greatest joy of forgiveness as we finally end this record disagreement,” said Ratu Isoa Tikoca, the high commissioner.
advertisement

Cannibalism was common in many parts of the South Pacific – Fiji was formerly known as the Cannibal Isles – and dozens of missionaries were killed by hostile islanders.

Born at Barnard Castle, Durham, Rev Brown emigrated to New Zealand as a young man and served as a missionary in Samoa before moving with his wife and children to New Guinea.

He was familiar with the cannibalistic traditions of the region and once described a visit to a village in which he counted 35 smoke-blackened human jaw bones dangling from the rafters of a hut.

“A human hand, smoke-dried, was hanging in the same house. And outside I counted 76 notches in a coconut tree, each notch of which, the natives told us, represented a human body which had been cooked and eaten there,” he told the Royal Geographical Society.

Even so, he was shocked when told that four of his staff had been cannibalised.

“They were killed simply because they were foreigners, and the natives who killed them did so for no other reason than their desire to eat them, and to get the little property they had with them,” he wrote.

He reluctantly agreed to launch a punitive expedition, ordering his men to burn down villages implicated in the murders and destroy wooden canoes.

At least 10 tribe members blamed for the attack were killed in an area known as Blanche Bay. Rev Brown claimed the raids made the region safe for Europeans.

In a letter to the general secretary of the London Missionary Society he wrote: “The natives respect us more than they did, and as they all acknowledge the justice of our cause they bear us no ill will.”

But the reprisals attracted fierce criticism from the press, particularly in Australia.

The Australian newspaper said: “If missionary enterprise in such an island as this leads to wars of vengeance, which may readily develop into wars of extermination, the question may be raised whether it may not be better to withdraw the mission from savages who show so little appreciation of its benefits.”

However, an official investigation by British colonial authorities a year later exonerated Rev Brown.

Print this page as text only
Email this story

Post this story to: del.icio.us | Digg | Newsvine | NowPublic | Reddit

US marshals set out to quell the lawlessness in 1882. Wyatt Earp is front row, second from left
BUSINESS
Mexican wave
Transformation of Wild West by meat packing industry.

Policemen at the border of Le Saugeais, we roast Swedes here
TRAVEL
We roast Swedes
A tiny corner of France – with its own president.

People in the rain
FEATURES
Rain stops play
How our hopes for summer 2007
were dashed.

Allotments at The Wintles
PROPERTY
Back to the future
Village greens are central to developments.

EDITOR’S CHOICE
Phil Spector uncovered and under spotlight
Australia’s snappy idea to attract tourists
Killer crocs
Girls really do prefer pink, study shows
Chinese still see themselves as slaves
Ironmonger to close after two centuries

You are here: Telegraph > News >
International News
About us | Contact us | Forgotten your password? | Advertising | Press office | | Archive | Today’s news

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2007. | Terms & Conditions of reading. | Commercial information. | Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Technorati Tags: