Fiji Islands: Welcome to the Cannibal Isles
The exotic islands of Fiji have a dark history of violence, cruelty, and cannibalism that culminated in the shocking death of Reverend Thomas Baker 149 years ago.
Welcome to the Cannibal Isles…
In his travel guide to Fiji, author David Stanley wrote, “It has been said that the Fijians were extremely hospitable to any stranger they did not wish to eat.” For the first ever Cannibal Week here on Cult of Weird, we’re exploring the bizarre history of cannibalism on Fiji, the exotic tropical paradise once feared by sailors as the dreaded Cannibal Isles.
When missionaries first arrived in the 1830s, they horrified by the Fijian way of life. They recorded eye-witness accounts of men buried alive in the post holes of new huts, widows strangled to line the bottom of their husbands’ graves, and piles of human remains eaten to celebrate everything from a new chief to the maiden voyage of a canoe. They wrote of captured enemies forced to gather the firewood and dig the earthen ovens that would be used to cook them, men casually eating their wives at their leisure, people butchered but kept alive to watch their flesh be consumed.
Despite living in constant hostility and fear, not a single missionary was killed until Reverend Thomas Baker made his final journey into the rugged and secluded interior of Fiji’s largest island. On July 21st, 1867, Baker and his party of native Fijian Christians were killed and eaten by a remote tribe of inland Viti Levu. According to legend, they ate everything except Baker’s boots, which they boiled for a week but were still too tough to chew.
Vintage postcard of what used to be the cannibal temple at Bau, c.1910
For years after, the tribe believed bad crops, mysterious deaths, and other troubles were an indication that they were cursed. They made several attempts to atone for their actions, which included giving their land to the church, and building a memorial cairn for Baker. In 2003, they invited Baker’s descendants to their village where they conducted a traditional forgiveness ceremony in hopes of lifting the curse once and for all.
Read more: Reverend Thomas Baker eaten in Fiji
Check out the Cult of Weird gift shop for extremely limited quantities of Cannibal Isles curiosities: