Sometimes life brings such surprises that even the most talented author cannot come up with.
Surely many have read the novel, which is a classic of world literature. It’s about Lord of the Flies, written by William Golding and published in 1954.
Shot from the film “Lord of the Flies”
And 11 years later, ordinary Polynesian teenagers found themselves in a similar situation. But they showed much greater wisdom and solidarity than the heroes of the above novel.
Golding himself admitted that his work was a response to the book by Robert Ballantyne “Coral Island”, written in 1857. In it, the boys also end up on a desert island. And from that moment their adventures begin. Golding gave his version of the shipwreck and focused on conflict and relationships. And while the critics argued whose work is more realistic, life put everything in its place: a real crash had already happened.
Boys aged 14-16 from the Polynesian island of the kingdom of Tonga decided to go on an adventure and an unknown world. Six teenagers slipped away from the boarding school, took away the boat, which the fisherman’s son, who knew a little about navigation, undertook to manage.
But the guys were fatally unlucky: a storm broke out at night, the wind tore off the sail, and they drifted for more than a week on the high seas until they reached the rocky coast of Ata Island.
The guys, whose names were Steven, Zion, David, Colo, Luke and Mano, spent 15 months here. Of course, they were better prepared for life than the European peers from the book. But still, the boys faced many difficulties and problems for the first time. Including the problem of building intra-group relationships.
Frame from a documentary film-reenactment
The castaways chose a leader and outlined three main tasks for each day: get food, have fun (since they broke away from adults) and give smoke signals. With food, as well as with fresh water, there was a problem. For the first weeks, the group ate raw fish and bird eggs.
Then the guys explored the island and found the remains of a settlement on the top of the cliff, where fruit trees grew in abundance and feral chickens roamed, freely living here for several decades after the people left the settlement.
The boys moved into the hut and patched it up as best they could. They equipped troughs to collect rainwater for drinking, although it was negligible. An attempt to build a raft was unsuccessful.
But what about pleasure?
Frame from a documentary film-reenactment
The areas of responsibility in the group were strictly divided: two watched the fire in the hearth, two got food, two cultivated crops and looked after chickens. Mano recalled that it took them three whole months to strike a spark and get the flame. Therefore, maintaining a fire was a matter of almost vital necessity.
If someone was sick, then others did his work. The boys quickly realized that conflicts would only weaken the group. And they made a common decision to disperse during a quarrel in different directions and wait until the emotions subside.
One of them misstepped and broke his leg. Friends carried the victim into the house, put a splint on, took turns caring. After the rescue, the doctors were amazed at how well and without complications the fracture healed.
But the pleasures should not be forgotten either: there was an agreement, and the wrecked remained, in fact, half children. Therefore, they had fun with great pleasure: they built an impromptu sports ground, a swing, a badminton ground.
The guys prayed every morning and sang songs with a guitar. The tool was built by one of them, using driftwood, coconut shells and cables from a boat. The elders held impromptu lessons for the younger ones, practicing calligraphy and solving examples right on the sand.
Hooray for the resurrected… criminals?!
When the fisherman discovered the boat was missing, he reported it to the police. The administration of the boarding school realized that the missing students were involved in this. They were declared dead and even held a symbolic funeral ceremony.
On September 11, 1966, a ship approached the island for the first time in a long time. The ship was driven by Peter Warner, the son of one of the richest Australians. What was his surprise when he noticed through binoculars teenagers swimming towards the ship.
Peter is third from the left
Warner took the guys on board and contacted the dispatcher by radio. A quarter of an hour later, he shouted with delight that a miracle had happened, because these boys had been considered dead for 15 months.
Almost the entire native island came out to greet yesterday’s dead. But in addition to the joy of miraculous salvation, they were also punished: the fisherman was not going to forgive the loss of the boat. Poor families had no money to reimburse. And the guys were taken into custody.
Peter intervened again, who by that time had become a TV star and a national hero. He contacted representatives of the Australian television channel Channel 7 and offered them the exclusive right to film the story. The fee was used to pay compensation for the boat.
It is noteworthy that the man also subsequently took all six of them to his ship as sailors. Warner opened a lobster fishing business in the Kingdom of Tonga and moved here with his family.
A documentary film was made about the misadventures of teenagers. Many moments about the lives of boys miraculously surviving and surviving in difficult conditions became known from interviews with Mano – one of them and Warner’s autobiography, published in 2019. This case clearly showed that no knowledge and practical skills are superfluous in life, and the ability to negotiate sometimes helps to save life.
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