Melbourne, December 08 (ANI): A tribe of cannibals has apologized to a 65-year-old British pensioner for killing and eating his great-great grandfather, 170 years ago.
The community living in Erromango, a small Pacific island, now part of Vanuatu, performed a ceremony asking forgiveness from Charles Milner-Williams, whose ancestors had ventured to the landmass as part of a missionary campaign in the 1830s.
Reverend John Williams had reached the island in South Pacific trying to convert pagan tribes to Christianity, with fellow missionary James Harris.
However, when they arrived at a beach, the natives with spears, clubs and arrows attacked them.
The captain of the ship later reported that both Williams and Harris were killed in the attack.
"John Williams turned and ran towards the sea. They caught up with him on the sea shore," the Daily Telegraph quoted Milner-Williams as saying.
He added: "They clubbed him and shot him with arrows and he died there in the shallows.
"It was a Royal Navy ship that went back to the island. The islanders then said that yes, they had killed and eaten both Harris and Williams."
However, now the tribe has offered a formal apology.
Milner-Williams said: "I thought I would be dispassionate after 170 years, but the raw emotion, the genuine contrition, the heart-rending sorrow, has been hugely moving."
The tribe believes they were cursed for the killings and now feels that with the apology ceremony conducted, they have cleansed their souls.
Iolo Johnson Abbil, president of Vanuatu, told BBC1: "People always look upon them that they killed a missionary.
"They think that it has a sort of curse on Erromango and that's why it's very important for them to have this reconciliation."
Also, anthropologist Ralph Regenvanu, who is a member of the Vanuatu parliament, said: "Saying sorry is part of it, but all reconciliation ceremonies require something from each side - there's always that element of exchange.
"Cannibalism, contrary to what a lot of people think, was traditionally a very ritualistic and sacred practice.
"It was not something like, you know, have your neighbour for lunch.
"It was practised in a very ritualistic way and was considered to be a very sacred activity." (ANI)