Friday, August 24, 2018

The perils of over-excitement


In 1840 Taufa'ahau, the founder of modern Tonga, had problems. The king had converted to Wesleyanism, but many of his people refused to abandon their old gods or, worse still, chose to embrace Catholicism, a religion associated with the Wesleyan missionaries' French rivals. Taufa'ahau was holed up in the hill fort called Sia ko Veiongo, beside Nuku'alofa harbour, which had been renamed Mount Zion after a chapel was raised on its summit.

A few miles away, the pagan warriors of the village of Pea had built their own redoubt, complete with a deep ditch, palisades, massive walls, & cannons. The big guns were operated by a man nicknamed Jimmy the Devil, who was one of at least two Europeans who had jumped from passing ships, settled in Pea, and joined the village's army.

In an attempt to stop Tonga's Civil War, the British Empire despatched a ship filled with marines to Nuku'alofa. The troops were led by Captain Walter Croker, who soon decided that Tonga's Christians were fighting a Holy War, & that Mount Zion was a sacred place. After asking to be buried on the hill, Croker marched his men to Pea, drew his sword, & charged at the village's high walls. He was shot dead after taking a few paces; another dozen British troops were killed or wounded, before the force retreated to the safety of the sacred hill.

Kaloka, as the Tongans call him, got his wish, & when we climbed Mount Zion Sio, Aneirin & I stopped for a minute or so beside the martyr's grave. Sio and I told Aneirin the strange story of Croker's death, & Aneirin ruminated. 'I think' he said eventually, 'that Captain Croker might have gotten a bit overexcited'.

21 Comments:

Blogger Richard said...

Good story Scott! Aneiron is learning a lot with you and Sio and being in Tonga. I saw a book about Tongan history today in my local library. I would have borrowed it but I had only a bag already packed with books. I will look out for it though.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dont you loathe these writers who have to tell us how cute their children are. Pinching other peoples intellectual property to make a story. any story thats how desperate this man is. Also in his drink and we all knwow he hs a real problem he abuses these kids. you can hear it in the childs words. Daddy got over excited says mummy when dad hit her or the kids. you need to stop encouraging this child abuser.

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