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Heartfelt apologies for missionary killed 100 years ago

By Luana Paniu

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National,) - It was a moving occasion for the crowd of villagers and officials who attended the Bisiatabu (along the Sogeri Plateau) celebrations of the Seventh-Day Adventist church when a reconciliation ceremony took place yesterday afternoon.

Descendants of the Taburi clan in the Koiari district who first received the adventist gospel in 1908, yesterday expressed remorse over the killing of one of the pioneer missionaries by reconciling with his descendant.

It is believed that Fijian missionary Peni 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 were carried out by the local Koiari villagers in traditional wear before the reconciliation took place.

Taburi tribe chief Gideon Jack presented to Tavodi’s great nephew Pastor Mitieli Nakasamai and his Fijian counterparts, a pig tooth and bilums.

"My true, true brother, you are great in my heart, and I am so sorry for what we did on that Sabbath morning," Mr. Jack said.

He said the pig signified why Tavodi was killed and the bilums were a show of love from the tribe.

"We will cherish you in our hearts because of your great uncle who brought the light to this place," he said.

Nakasamai then presented Jack with a sacred Fijian ornament, two stones with string.

"One is to signify the appreciation I have for burial of my great uncle and the other is a symbol of my acceptance of your apology," he said. The reconciliation took place in front of a large of church leaders, Koiari villagers and representatives of the SDA church from PNG, Solomon Islands, Fiji and the ‘South Pacific Division’ headquarters in Australia.

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