A brief history of cannibalism in the Fiji islands 4/18/2011

When i was a little kid while having breakfast one early morning at my great grandma’s house, that’s when i first heard my grandfather spoke of our dark and violent taboo history; cannibalism.  I remembered him saying (in Fijian);  “…I’ve never tried it but i still remember what grandpa said that humans taste like pork .”  As an 8 year old hearing that by the breakfast table, i was shocked.  I sat there staring at the left over pork dish from yesterday’s funeral ceremony and in my mind i thought, “Hmmm not bad.”

Nobody knows exactly when we islanders came to the South Pacific.  However, based on archaelogical evidence,  the occupation of Fiji began between 1600 to 1200 BC.  Samoa, Hawaii and New Zealand were later occupied by the Polynesians (around 800 AD).  Fiji is widely considered to be the crossroad of the South Pacific.  The physical features of the Fijians resembled that of the negroid race of Melanesia (Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, Solomon islands ) but adopted the Polynesian (Tonga, Samoa, Hawaii etc.) culture instead.   Historians claimed that that there were two waves of migration in Fiji; the Polynesians first settled on the island and later came the Melanesians.

Fijians adopted  cannibalism from their long voyage at sea.  The lack of adequate nutrition forced these sailors to consume the dead in order to survive.

When these seafares landed in Fiji, cannibalism became part of the Fijian diet.  No to mention, the gradual increase of human population on the island led to the competition for natural resources, property and women.

   

Early historical accounts from Christian missionaries like John Hunt (1848) and William Cross (1842) depicted the gruesome and inhumane-like behavior of the early Fijians.  An account in John Hunt’s book “A missionary among cannibals” (1859) where he experienced the savages digging up of the recently buried graves for human consumption.  In the book “Fiji and the Fijians”(published in 1858) by Wesleyan missionary Reverend Thomas Williams,  he witnessed a chief’s wife from a small island of Lakeba (east from the main land) who ran away in the middle of the night.  The chief ordered his trackers to look for her the next day.  A couple of days later, she was brought back to Lakeba.  He had his wife’s arms chopped off and cooked.  Later that evening, he called on her and as she sat across from his dining table while she watched him consumed her arms in horror.  She died a couple of days later after she was christianily babtised.

The ambushed of English missionary Reverend Thomas Baker was the last cannibal act known in Fiji (1834-1907).

After 136 years in 2003, my relatives from Nubutautau village (who were responsible for the death of Thomas Baker) nationally apologized to the descendants of Thomas Baker who came all the way from East Sussex, England (BBC News- Nov2003) .  The prime minister of Fiji and 600 government employees including the press attended the ceremony. The villagers believed that they were deprived off government benefits and living necesities because they were cursed.

In the north western side of Fiji, if you’re driving on Kings highway close to Rakiraki town, you will pass by this graveyard (picture below);

Udre udre was a Fijian chief who according to Guiness World Record (2003) for “most prolific cannibal” who consumed between 872 to 900 people.   This is recorded by the stones he kept for every bodies he ate.  The history of this account is a little vague but he definately ate more than 100 people.

At war, the Fijian war clubs were designed specifically to crush human skulls and break bones;

       

Brain smasher              Gata (neck twister)      Totokia (Brain picker)

          

Fijian war clubs                                          …war spears

During wartime, the skull of the defeated chief was used as a kava (fijian ceremonial drink) bowl offered to the relatives of the defeated.

Dutch explorer Able Tasman (1603-1659) first sighted New Zealand and Fiji in the year 1642.  Later, Captain James Cook outlined the Polynesian island of Tonga and Fiji in his expedition during the mid 1700’s.  Europeans  named Tonga as the “friendly islands” and as a result, Christian missionaries poured in to Fiji from Tonga in a mission of converting the “heatherns” to Christianity.  The early Wesleyan missionaries came to Fiji during the early 1800’s.  When the self proclaimed king Ratu (Sir) Seru Cakobau ceded Fiji to Great Britian in 1870, he announced Christianity as a dominant religion which brings about the end of cannibalism.

As a young kid, we were never taught about the real history of the gruesome, warlike and cannibalistic culture of our history.   Out of curiosity and with the help of the internet, i went on a research rampage and found articles written by sailors and missionaries during the mid 1800’s describing their encounters with the Fijians.

Fiji is different now compared to a 100 years ago.  According to English CNTV (2/17/2011), Fiji is rated as the top three honeymoon destination in the world behind Hawaii and French Polynesia.  Now we talked about cannibalism loosely around the kava bowl.  There’s a Fijian joke of a our national rugby team that visited Scotland back in  the 1980’s.  Durning the half time break, a Scotsman asked a Fijian player how they would treat the loosing team playing against Fiji.   In reply he said, “We eat them.”

http://www.heretical.com/cannibal/fiji.html

47 thoughts on “A brief history of cannibalism in the Fiji islands 4/18/2011

  1. NIce nice….i like i like….i like it alot…Ey there has to be a movie done about it…..long over due for that….theres never been a movie done to reflect on the polynesian cultural roots that ties to Fijian arrivals on the island….ey why is Island spelled that way anyways… and not eyelands…or earthlands …earthlands make more sense…ey we gotta go do that prank that we talked about today at that fools front lawn…lol lol….yes yes im from Fiji…. LS LS

  2. Pingback: What Cannibals? « turcanin. cu ţ.

  3. Thanks so much for that, it was really amazing and knowing about our culture and it’s history. Thank God Missionaries came to Viti God is so good, I really couldn’t stop reading that. Most of my family and friends say and think that Fijian are Malenision straight up but I already knew that the Polynesians took settlement first in Viti. God bless and take great care of yourself love.

  4. There’s a reason western men are chevalier towards women: if we weren’t they might get eaten. Long live chivalry!
    And now, for some fresh chicken (I never eat rooster. Too stringy).

  5. Can you help me uncover an old family story that my surname is related to Baker.
    My father is from Niue and there is a story of a white missionary in our family line that was canabilised. I’m confused as to if our surname was given in honor to him or there is a blood line connection somehow?

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  7. Had the privillage to visit the cave last week. trully inspiring. I leart about canibals in sundayschool. but never thought of it a reality. Thanks for sharing your story.

  8. Hi! This is kind of off topic but I need some help from an established blog.

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    • Hi! Sorry for the late reply. To answer your question, no it’s not that hard to set up your own blog. I use WordPress because it’s not overrrated. In terms of where to begin, well..that all depends on you- as a writer. What do you want to write about? Hope this helps. Let me know if you need anything else. Thank you for viewing my blog. God bless!

      J.Vatunigere

  9. In Tanzania there is a tribe called fiji they resembles fijians in everything Big bodies,drinks kava and their culture is more similar

  10. I’m a little bit confused,when I visited Tanzania on a safari I met that tribe(Fijians) in Tanzania. My colleagues in the British Army (Fijians) were shocked and so impressed that they might know their roots and most of them want to visit Tanzania after they finished Military training in Kenya.

    • Hmmmm! interesting. Did you know that Fiji is also Polynesian- depending on what region or island of Fiji you’re from? Polynesians had a lot of influence in Fiji before Europeans discovered us. And Tanzania! it is possible that there was a lost tribe that sailed out of Africa and eventually land in Fiji. We are still working on figuring out our heritage. In addition to this, i believe the best way to start is figuring out the language spoken in our archipelago. So far, our (Fijian) language is rooted in the Austronesian language- that of spoken in PNG, Vanuatu, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, South of the Philippines and of course native Aboriginal Australia. I have not yet heard this tongue of Austronesian language spoken in Africa. And besides, the word Fiji, was created by European settlers- we Fijians called our island Viti- that’s where the Fiji “word” was derived from. Thanks again mate for your feed back. Will post more blogs later.

  11. I lived in fiji for 13 years as a medical officer. I have been to nabutautau the place where thomas baker was eaten because it was part of my area as SDMO naitasiri. I have been to matuku, bukuya, vunisea as my postings and you will notice how nice the people are. There are no traces of agression as listed in theor historical past labelling them as cannibals. We joke about it calling people ” bokola” meaning kana tamata or eating people but it remained a joke now. The nurses who worked with me often joke that if it was in the 18th century i would be a tasty dish being so fair and cute hahaha. Christianity finally caught up in their gruesome historical past making them a religious people. In fact methodist services span the whole day of sunday and the sunday ban is strictly in place, you cannot buy groceries nor gasoline on a sunday. I consider fiji my second home and i miss the place and the people. Vinaka vakalevu

    • Wow…. it is amazing knowing your wonderful veiw about Fiji. Yes, I as a Fijian feel that we should thank the missionaries and acknowledge their courage that enabled you and I are to live peacefully in Fiji. Thanks to the wave of power…. Christianity

  12. I FIND NO HUMOR TO THE REMARK HOW A LOSER IS TREATED, THEY ARE EATEN. IT IS NOT FUNNY AT ALL. AND I WOULD NOT WANT TO ADMIT IT IF I HAD ANCESTORS WHO CANNABALIZED. THIS ARTICLE MAY HAVE BEEN FACTUAL BUT WAS DISGUSTING.

  13. HI,SORRY FOR THE DELAYED RESPONSE ….
    YOUR DATA IS REALLY TRUE…IT HAS BEEN WRITTEN DOWN ON .

    FIJIAN SONGS,MEKES,POEMS…E..T.C…
    I SALUTE YOU FOR YOUR ..
    TIME EFFORT IN PUTTING THIS DOWN.
    .
    VINAKWA..COLA BALAVU KOTO.

  14. My wife on I were aboard the Cunard Line Queen Victoria that made a port call iat Suva Fijii in March 4, 2015. Great visit, beautiful island and friendly people. We would recommend a visit to one an all, and incidentally we were not concerned about ending up in a buffet. Thanks. For taking the trouble of putting your interesting and factual article on the history of Fiji.

  15. Is there any hard evidence or facts that actually points out that we Fijians were cannibals or is it just stories? I really question all this hype about Fijians being cannibals. As a Fijian myself, i think this topic needs to be proven with facts and not just stories. Lets keep in mind what the Europeans refer to us…well, not only to Fijians but every Native people on this earth as savages. It was also according to the Europeans that Fijians were cannibals. All i have seen is some pictures of some Fijians dragging other dead Fijians and it makes me wonder if there were cameras around at that time, why didn’t they take pictures of Fijians eating human flesh? Its all a lie. We were not cannibals. It was only used by the Europeans to discredit the Native Fijians. There is no hard evidence or facts to support that Fijians were cannibals. Don’t be fooled my Native Brothers. Wake UP!!!

    Vina du riki.

  16. Great post, but the Fijians didn’t become cannibals because they were hungry on their trip. The near-entirety of the Pacific tribes were cannibals. A good research endeavour would be to try and find where the South pacific cannibalism originated, and how it spread across the Pacific islands by retracing the migratory sea routes.

  17. hi, my name is Watisoni or Watson I,m from the Rewa Delta well known for its Tribal Wars and cannibalism, during school holidays I always spend it in the village. every day we have to do some farming and gather foods before we go out like sports,swimming, etc..I have notice that our farm land forms a contour of house foundation and walk ways and deep trench, i was told that its our “Koro Makawa” meaning old settlement/village. this stories have fascinated me in reading more of this cannibalism stories. Still today I could resemble how we prepare earth oven where we slaughter a big and training its blood on a pot without spilling it and cook it with its organs on the Earth oven. we would wait beside the Earth oven and savage the pigs blood like hungry wolfs when its cooked. it resembles the way our ancestors feeds on human being which was mention by some early missionay stories, but today we have changed our menu, thanks to our early missionary in changing our culture.

    • Thank you for reading my post

      Stories like cannibalism were created by the British to loot Fiji down to the bone. They spread this lie all over the world wherever they went to establish their superiority as colonial masters. The white color is only skin deep without any difference in human behavior. I agree the Fijian looked ferocious and so on without any clothing when they met the whites with a spear for defence. They did not wish to be killed by strange looking white men, the invaders whom they saw for the very first time

      I cannot believe that cannibalism if true just dried up all of a sudden with no evidence ( Just stories) found to this day, not even in the remotest of places on any island. How come these very same people changed overnight as soon as the colonial masters arrived on the shores of FIJI. And now they are so nice & polite.

      Spread some truth like the Fijian people are so friendly as all humans should be. They demonstrate this every day with all outsiders. The new interpretation would go a long way to bring in more tourists & investments

      Work for the motherland, hold up your head high with pride & conviction. You are the best of humans and have always been so. Ratu Cacabau could not have signed any submission for FIJI without an interpreter, so literally Fiji was stolen from its people.

      Corruption, killings and untruth are a product of foreign domination

      Bramh Mishra

      On Fri, Apr 8, 2016 at 8:16 PM, jonahvatunigere wrote:

      > jazzy commented: “Ew. i never knew my ancestors were cannables. Yes im > HALF fijian. Im so grossed out.Nasty.” >

  18. I found your article humorous- we eat them!!! And provocative.
    Did it ever occur to you that in your g-g-grandfathers time that the left over pork dish from the funeral the day before could have been the deceased?

  19. I sincerely believe the white colonists wanted to rule Fiji for ever and invented theories like Fijians were cannibals and ate up missionaries that arrived in Fiji. To those who believe this rotten theory I have a few pertinent question:

    1. Have any human bones ever been found of eaten humans anywhere in Fiji. Carbon dating would evidence the dates of these bones
    2. Or were the bones eaten as well
    3. The colonist whites have a different excuse in every part of the world to justify their occupation, loot, plunder & rule
    4. Why are they killing Aborigines and Native Canadians even today
    5. In South Africa they occupied native land and justified their presence that while the natives came from the north we came from the sea giving us equal rights in the country
    6. They occupied and ruled South Africa and Rhodesia until they were defeated. During their governance they practiced apartheid
    7. Why was apartheid also rampant in USA & Canada until 1060s
    8. Why Australia practiced white Australian policy until 1980s

    Christianity was a tool to invade countries before the soldiers moved in. They could not use this in India but invented a trade policy and later occupied the whole country. That’s deception, nothing else.

    Dont be so easily fooled by “Thou shalt not steal” in the Bible. Christianity stole almost the whole world and ruled over all non whites for years on end. They looted, maimed, killed, stole and drove us all to starvation & death. They cut our hands and fingers to prolong their game plan.

    Its a shame Fijians have become Christians and love that nonsense so much when the real Fijians were such gentle people as I know them to have been. I have lived in the koros and they treated all humans as equal at all times. Its about time Fijians realized who their real enemy was for so long

  20. The last time I was in Fiji, (Taveuni) the locals said that the last time known time of cannibalism in Fiji was the 1980’s. History may say 1800’s, but I’m sure it was still quietly practiced by the natives for quite sometime after that.

  21. There are differences on record of who Fijians are, and where they originated from. There seems to be theories that Fijians are from Africa, and they travelled and arrived to settle in Fiji about 1500bc. Evidence is said to be found in carbondating pottery excavated from various parts of the group. But, according to traditional history, there is a variation to history, that is very plausible.
    Lutunasobasoba left Fiji to take his two sons who were banished from Nakauvadra as a result of the disagreement on kawa (or Turukawa) the toa ivakayadra.
    The two sons Cirinakausamaria and Cirinakaumoli went directly to Britain, from where they separated (bola-a-tagane – the warriors separated), Cirinakausamaria moved to France, and Cirinakaumoli to Germany.
    The brothers (Rau na Ciri) had nursed the toa ivakayadra back to health after they had shot it, and had it with them on this journey.
    Cirinakausamaria had taken kawa (or Turukawa) with him to live in France where he was adopted as a symbol that today is being immortalised on French rugby jersey.
    Their dad Lutunasobasoba returned to Fiji, but visited Egypt on his way back. It is told that he was a guest of the Pharaohs, as Lutunasobasoba is known to the Pharaohs as the eldest of all tribes in the world, and had the birthright.
    A lady member of Pharaohs family (known to us Nai) was bethrothed to him, and was the mother of the younger children he brought back with him to Fiji.
    Lutunasobasoba arrived or returned at Vuda, and himself followed the route through the mountains (tua-lei-ta or dads track) to his dad, uncle, and the surviving members of Cirinakausamaria and Cirinakaumoli families.
    However, his group had split into two on their return, the second stayed back in Solomon, where they picked up cannibalism. The group stayed near Sigatoka, on arrival in Fiji, near the sandhills where they continued eating humans flesh.
    The cannibals were an embarrassment to the elders at Uluinakauvadra, and was ordered completely destroyed to totally eradicate cannibalism from the land, but it had spread.
    The bones of these families were later excavated from the sand hills some years back.
    I do not profess to know everything about the content of this discussion, as I do not have technical or scientific evidence to support me, but, it needs to be said anyway.
    We Fijians are not cannibals, our elders ordered a community totally destroyed, to eradicate cannibalism.
    And secondly, Lutunasobasoba (or Volitivuravura – a title he is known by elsewhere) was not from Africa, but, he stopped over there on his return, where he picked up African people needing relief elsewhere because of the severe drought in the land at the time.
    These are from oral history.
    Please allow me to advance this theory, and contribute to the discussion, without the necessary scientific evidence, which can be researched.

    • Cola vina Save! It’s been 3 years since I’ve last updated my blog. I’ve been receiving notification emails from readers all over the world and never get a chance to reply back. To date, this blog received mixed reviews; a few praises and totally balls to the wall unwanted comments but I “Approved” them anyway. I believe people are entitled to their own opinion. In fact, I was more intrigued by how many people read this stuff and I wasn’t expecting any feedbacks at all. I felt that I had to tell this story because it needed to be told. I’m going to look into that Lutunasobasoba and Pharoh theory. I believe the best approach to this discovery is to take a DNA test. Maybe i’ll blog about it later. Thank you for reading.

  22. Interesting story. But unfortunately it’s only a story, I think.

    It is unfortunate that people all over the world look to the white skin as superior. While they look at whites as superior they develop an inferiority complex. Look again and all skins are just a finish, a color. Look closely and all humans are much the same, almost 99% I dare say. We acquire a body to help us live, but in essence we are a spiritual being, an embodiment or extension of our mind over time. We are our own creation in body and mind, but in reality we just a spirit, a soul.

    The nature of all humans is to love and respect our fellow beings, love and respect nature and treat all life as equal and sacred. Native Fijians as I know them were just like that when I lived in Fiji as a young fellow.

    I left Fiji in 1960 and have been back only once in 1998. Unbelievable changes had taken place meanwhile. The country is now full of churches, mosques, monasteries and people walking around with alien clothing to resemble those from the Arabian desert. Christianity and Islam are ferociously competing to dominate the life of the people. Fijian culture is fast being erased.Soon it will be no more.

    May I have Fiji back as I left it largely free of crime, with love and acceptance not because I resembled either the natives, the Indians, the Europeans. or Chinese but because I was human just like anyone else. The broad smiles have disappeared and Bula is just a word now, hardly a greeting from the heart.

    Cars, roads and buildings alone don’t make either a culture or a nation, hearts do.

    Religions unnecessarily divide humanity.

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