Download E-books The White Headhunter: The Story of a 19th-Century Sailor Who Survived a South Seas Heart of Darkness PDF

By Nigel Randell

In 1876, sailor Jack Renton used to be rescued from the Pacific island domestic of the headhunting Malaitans, after spending 8 years of their captivity. His best-selling memoir of the way he went from the slave in their leader, Kabou, to his so much depended on warrior and adviser continues to be the single authenticated account of a Westerner’s “heart of darkness” trip. yet his sensational tale seems to have glossed over the foremost occasions of his transformation. Renton's tale begun with being shanghaied in San Francisco, escaping from the send in an open whaleboat, and drifting for 2 thousand miles around the Pacific earlier than washing up on Malaita. via next generations, the Malaitans’ oral historical past has handed down specific tales featuring a distinct model. Documentary filmmaker Nigel Randell spent seven years chatting with the Malaitans to piece jointly this varied account. The White Headhunter tells the tale of a guy who not just followed their customs yet did his top to organize a humans he had grown to like for the onslaught of Western civilization. He lives on within the Malaitans’ reminiscence, his hut and guns preserved as a shrine nonetheless visited via the islanders today.

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It's a drama chronicled via one among ‘us’ who, in demeanour, conduct, language and id had develop into considered one of ‘them’, and a guy who did his absolute best to organize the folk he had come to like for the onslaught of white civilization. 1 The Island by means of the 1860s it seemed on all of the Pacific charts yet, in contrast to the remainder of the Solomon workforce whose coastal and inland good points have been surveyed and named, this island existed basically as an summary. The adjoining islands bore the names of Catholic saints, eu territories or the ocean captains who had first landed on their beaches. just one observe used to be imprinted on the featureless define of this island – a reputation that used to be testimony to the awe within which it was once held through its neighbours and the ships that skirted its shorelines. The population can have identified their island as Mala yet to the remainder of the realm it used to be Mala’ita – ‘Mala over there’. Cigar-shaped, a hundred and twenty miles lengthy, mendacity north-east to south-west within the archipelago of the Solomon Islands, Malaita’s mountains upward push steeply from its storm-battered sea coast to over 3 thousand toes. the internal is roofed with a dense rainforest capped by means of an everlasting cover of gray cloud. it's a land of deep ravines eroded via quickly flowing streams, limestone potholes and caves. those streams develop into brief estuarine rivers, which empty right into a sea coast ruled through mangrove swamps infested with crocodiles. at the east and west coasts, slender reefs hug the beach, their inviting lagoons secure via a sea wall marked out via a ribbon of churning surf. by way of 1855 the United States and the good Powers had accomplished their advertisement and strategic flag-raising and the South Pacific had yielded up so much of its mysteries. From their respective bases in Fiji and New Caledonia, Britain and France now grew to become their realization to the hot Hebrides and the Solomons. The 600-mile necklace of islands used to be reputed to be wealthy in sandalwood yet because the surveyors moved from island to island it used to be quickly obvious from the rotting jetties and scarred landscapes they'd already been logged out. No fiscal case can be made for elevating the flag on islands that had not anything to supply. It used to be no longer a situation that might final. within the 1860s huge tracts of land in North Queensland have been grew to become over to sugar construction and, within the absence of any white settlers ready to paintings for the wages on provide, the plantation-owners determined to use the single source the islands possessed in abundance – manpower. among 1865 and 1870, 4 thousand population of the Solomons and the hot Hebrides have been recruited on three-year contracts and shipped to Queensland. Labour trafficking, or ‘blackbirding’, now ruled maritime task within the South Pacific and because the ships driven farther and farther north, in the course of the Solomons and as much as the coast of latest Guinea, just one island was once spared their attentions. Malaita’s attractiveness seemed to be established upon captain Thomas Smith’s largely learn account of the voyage of the whaling send John Bull. released in 1840, Smith’s narrative maintained that not just used to be he attacked whilst he tried to technique the island yet that, many years ahead of his disagreement, the twenty-man group of one other whaler were captured and eaten by way of the islanders.

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