Tribesmen confess to killing missionary

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea - Relatives of one of the pioneering Seventh Day Adventists (SDA) missionary to Papua New Guinea were presented with a confession and apology by members of a tribe that murdered him 100 years ago.

Fijian missionary, Peni Tavodi accompanied by Pastor Septimus and wife, Edith Carr from Australia arrived in PNG on June 13, 1908.

In an emotional ceremony held last week, the descendants of the Taburi clan in the Koiari district that first received the Adventist gospel in 1908, expressed remorse over the killing of missionary Tavodi by reconciling with his grand nephew, Pastor Mitieli Nakasamai.

Mr Nakasamai was accompanied by SDA Church Fiji's general secretary, Pastor Wame Sausau.

Mr Nakasamai and Mr Sausau had travelled to attend the centenary celebrations of the SDA Church in PNG when they participated in the reconciliation ceremony on Friday.

It is believed that Mr Tavodi was killed by sorcerers of the Taburi clan whilst on his knees praying one Sabbath morning.

A re-enactment of the arrival of the missionaries was carried out by the local Koiari villagers in traditional wear before the reconciliation took place.

Karl Jack, one of the great-grand sons of Ureki Kosiwa, the brother of missionary Tavodi's killer, Nadina Kosiwa made the confession on behalf of the Koiari people and especially the Taburi clan.

Mr Jack confessed that Mr Tavodi was murdered by his great-grand uncle, Nadiwa Kosiwa using traditional sorcery before he was sent away to be bitten by a snake.

"When your ancestors landed here with the bible, they were welcomed by hostile tribal groups of Koiaris which were then our ancestors who worshipped the gods of their past described today as the dark Niugini," Mr Jack said.

Mr Jack said years had passed and they had reflected on the period when their ancestors were dominated by their order of primitive cultural settings.

Mr Jack said the result of the bravery of Mr Tavodi and Mr Carr was the result of the 100 years centenary celebration currently underway in the country.

He said their forefathers were eventually converted to Christianity leading to them renounce their ungodly acts as a result of such determination and commitment by the missionaries.

"As a result, PNG transformed from heathen influence into a Christian society and safely today we can move around freely beyond the horizons."