Does this feckless young missionary deserve a medal for his heroic “courage” — or was he just a reckless young fool who was “asking for trouble”?
By JANE FRYER
The Daily Mail
Abridged by Lasha Darkmoon
with notes and comments
They’re the “sex-crazed tribe” cut off from the world for 30,000 years and they don’t like visitors — especially fanatical holier-than-thou missionaries anxious to ram Christianity down their throats. They repel all visitors by shooting them with poison arrows. Their message is quite clear: “This is our island, and we don’t want any intruders, so KEEP AWAY!”
Poison arrows, knives, spears, clubs, axes, rocks — all of them have been waved very angrily. Over the years, the message from the natives of the tiny island of North Sentinel in the Bay of Bengal could not have been clearer. ‘Keep away. Go home. Buzz off. Visitors not welcome. We want to be alone.’
Of course they do.
The Sentinelese are one of a very few remaining ‘uncontacted peoples’ in the world and they are determined to keep it that way. Which means we know tantalisingly little about their language, their culture, their belief system or even how many of them there are.
But what we do know is that they have lived happily and largely healthily on their tiny, lush, mangrove-swamped 20-square-mile island for at least 30,000 years.
During which time, they have feasted on wild pig, clams, berries and honey, engaged in energetic communal sex sessions on the beach and repelled pretty much every visitor (well-meaning or threatening) with a flurry of poison arrows and razor sharp machetes.
So it wasn’t such a surprise last weekend when John Allen Chau, a 26-year-old American Christian missionary-cum-thrill-seeking explorer who visited the island was felled by a poison arrow and then dragged round the white sand beaches by a piece of twine until he was dead.
Apparently Chau, a graduate of the evangelical Oral Roberts University, Oklahoma, who had previously declared visiting North Sentinel as his ‘must-do adventure’, had decided his life’s calling was converting the Sentinelese to Christianity.
Poor well-intentioned Chau! Of course, his death is an utter tragedy — a young life cut off in such an horrific and courageous way. He continued walking into the arrows as they fired, so intent was he on delivering his message from God.
And from all accounts he was a wonderful human being — ‘kind’, ‘big-hearted’ and ‘wonderful fun’.
JOHN CHAU, 26-YEAR-OLD CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY
killed last weekend by the natives of North Sentinel island
for visiting their remote island against their will.
LD: I disagree most emphatically with the politically correct writer of this article, Jane Fryer, that this reckless and stupid 26-year-old Chinese American “missionary” is some kind of heroic martyr whose “death is an utter tragedy — a young life cut off in such an heroic and courageous way.” His death may have been “horrific” but the word “courageous” is surely out of place and suggests we ought to sympathize with this foolish young religious nut trying to force his way into an isolated island community bearing unwanted gifts.
We now know from studying history that any nation imprudent enough to welcome Christian missionaries into their midst, whether in the far East or in the New World or the Antipodes, soon ended up colonized and exploited to the hilt by their benefactors.
It took the Chinese and Indians many centuries to throw off the shackles of their Christian invaders, who used religion as a cunning tool to gain access to their countries. They then used their gunboats and superior weaponry to batten on the natives like parasites. Evicting the toxic Western squatters was not an easy task, and the loot spirited away in the process remains incalculable to this day.
We agree with the writer of this article, however, as she continues: “But he [John Chao] shouldn’t have been there [in the first place]. Under Indian law, it is illegal for anyone to be within five nautical miles of the islands and, since last year, even filming the natives in the Andaman Islands — which include North Sentinel — has been illegal.”
LD (continued) : North Sentinel island, which is part of the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal, is now under Indian jurisdiction. India has decided, correctly in my view, that the people of this remote island community are a rare “protected species”. And that nosey anthropologists, do-gooder missionaries, and other opportunistic intruders should have the decency to keep away when they are clearly not welcome.
As we all know now from the study of imperial history, it’s only one small step from seemingly innocent tape recorders and cameras and nice Christian missionaries armed with New Testaments — to Coca Cola, McDonalds, plastic-strewn beaches, high-rise casinos, cocaine snorters, call girls, and, last but not least — the final gift from the dark gods! — sex tourism laid on for plane loads of decadent deviants from the West.
“No thank you!” says India.
In 1974, Western visitors to the island tried to seduce the natives by offering them silly gifts, which included, bizarrely, a miniature plastic car, a live pig, and a bunch of aluminium cooking pots.
You can’t make this up. [LD]
JANE FRYER CONTINUES:
This [India’s “hands off” policy] is partly to protect visitors such as Chau from the natives’ deadly tendencies.
But more importantly, it is to ensure the continued survival of the world’s last pre-neolithic tribe. A people, so isolated, so apart from, so unexposed to modern life that they are unlikely to have any resistance common illnesses such as flu, measles or even a cold.
As Sophie Grig, a senior researcher with Survival International, put it: “This is one of the most vulnerable tribes on the planet. He could be passing on diseases that could literally wipe them all out.”
Which as well as being a disaster for them, would be an anthropological catastrophe. Because the Sentinelese are the only surviving direct descendants of the first humans in Asia. More than 75,000 years ago they made their way from Africa to the Middle East, Burma and India.
Eventually, they reached the Andaman Islands. Some moved on, but others stayed on North Sentinel, drawn by the lush mangrove jungles, perfect white sandy beaches and a natural bounty so rich and easy to plunder there was no need to cultivate the land. The men hunted turtle, pigs and fish with spears, bows and arrows tipped with bone and hardwood.
The women gathered tubers, coconuts berries and clams and caught fish in homemade nets. In the summer they collected honey, smearing their bodies with a special bee-repellent leaf paste. All went naked (but for a few leaves, fibre strings and ornaments) and lived in huts in small family-based groups.
And that’s how they still live 30,000 years on, protected by the sea and their own latent aggression from modernisation, gadgets, plastic, stress and other humans.
The first documented contact with the tribe was made over 1,000 years ago by Chinese and Arabian explorers who were driven back with a barrage of arrows and described the natives as being three feet tall with human bodies and bird beaks. Pretty much every attempt to visit them since has ended in disaster.
When Marco Polo encountered the islands in the 13th century, he wrote: “They are a most violent and cruel generation who seem to eat everybody they catch.” And, in 1563, a sailor, Master Caesar Frederick, warned: “If any ship, by ill fortune, stop at these islands, no one comes back alive.”
So for a long time, even when the rest of the Andaman and nearby Nicobar islands were colonised by the British in 1850 and turned into a penal colony, the Sentinelese were left alone to hunt, eat and generally make merry in their fecund island paradise.
Until 1880, when a British colonial expedition led by Maurice Vidal Portman landed with a squad of armed police, kidnapped an entire family and whisked them off to Port Blair in the Andaman Islands. The adults died immediately and a red-faced Portman hastily returned the four children with gifts.
LD: Maurice Vidal Portman is probably Jewish, as his name would suggest. Most of the key officials in the Rothschild-backed East India Company were known to be Jewish. These included the British sephardic Jew, Elias David Sassoon, and his equally predatory colleague Silas Aaron Hardoon, his partner in the firm E.D. Sassoon & Co. The same Jewish merchants were also to be found in China, financing the Opium Wars and turning millions of the Chinese people into helpless opium addicts.
For nearly a century after that, the islanders were left largely to their own devices.
Until, in 1970, a group of anthropologists approached the island, notebooks and cameras at the ready, and were peppered with arrows and then treated to an energetic beach sex show, described by one observer as a ‘sort of community mating, a frenzied dance of desire’.
Four years later, there was another invasion attempt — this time the visitors were laden with offerings of a miniature plastic car, a live pig and a selection of aluminium pots.
The response? Yet another volley of poison arrows.
Occasionally, instead of firing weapons, the men wave their penises very angrily and, on rare occasions, would accept the odd coconut before opening fire. But the message has never changed.
“Please leave us alone. We don’t want to be friends.”
Their decision to resist contact with the outside world is an intelligent one. They are frequently referred to as Stone Age or primitive, but from the little the outside world has been allowed to learn, we know they are anything but.
Today there are just 100 groups of people scattered across the world — including the Yanomami in northern Brazil; the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode in Bolivia; and, until the last member died in 2011, the Andaman Islands’ Bo tribe — who know nothing of our world and do their utmost to keep theirs a mystery.
But however unwelcoming they are, visitors keep coming.
Chau sounds like a bright and lovely young man. He claimed to have been ‘fascinated’ by the people of North Sentinel and had researched them. Of course he knew of the danger he faced, if not the danger from his germs to the islanders.
LD : The fact that Chau knew his germs could kill them, but still decided to convert them to Christianity before decimating them with disease, tells us everything we need to know about this narcissistic young do-gooder. A “bright and lovely young man”? Oh dear, the author of this article appears to possess the same moral values of the village idiot she praises! — How truly depressing.
Chau wrote a letter to his parents before he left, saying: “I think it’s worth it to declare Jesus to these people. Please do not be angry at them or at God if I get killed.” He’d visited several times before the fateful trip last week — taking scissors, safety pins and a football as gifts. [!!!]
In return they rained arrows down on him and damaged his canoe.
“I have been so nice to them, why are they so angry and aggressive?” he asked in his diary.
The Indian government adopts what it calls a “hands off, eyes on” policy for the tribe, which means officials moor boats nearby, to check on welfare from a safe distance. While the seven fishermen who transported Chau and his canoe to within the exclusion zone — and watched while he was killed — have all been arrested, there is no question anyone on the island will be bothered by the authorities.
Let’s hope other reckless souls learn from Chau’s death. The survival of the islanders depends on it.