Tonight, we face the story of unity, hope and ultimately survival in adversity. It happened more than 50 years ago, but caused a sensation when it was rediscovered last year. This is a story of a group of elementary school students staying on a remote and desolate island for more than 15 months. It may remind you of the famous novel “Lord of the Flies”, William Golding (William Golding), but as you can see, the ending of this true story is no different.
The story began in 1965. Mano Totau and his five friends study at a boarding school in Tonga, a Pacific island country. They were bored, rebellious, and eager to take risks-they stole the traditional whaling ship-and recklessly gave up their journey to Fiji.
Holly Williams: Does it have an engine?
Mano Totau: No, there is no engine.
Holly Williams: But Mano, is Fiji about 500 miles from Tonga?
Mano Totau: Less.
Holly Williams: Do you have a map or a compass?
Mano Totau: No. (laugh)
These teenagers may have grown up at sea, but they soon discovered that they had made a terrible mistake. On the first night, a storm tore off the sail from the mast and tore off the rudder.
In more than a week, their crippled ship drifted by aimlessly. The oldest 17-year-old Sione Fataua told us that they were sure they would die.
Sione Fataua: No food, no water. We are just drifting in the wind. Eight days later, we saw the island.
It is a volcanic island, sticking out of the sea. As the speedboat approached, waves crashed it onto the rocky coastline, breaking it apart. The exhausted teenagers were struggling on the shore.
Mano Totau: The only thing we have to do is to grab each other and pray: “Thank you, God.”
The boys later discovered that they had drifted a hundred miles from the starting point and landed on Atta Island-on the map, it was just an uninhabited spot.
This story is so compelling that a staff member of the Australian TV station later brought these teenagers back to Ata to recreate their experience. In the film, Sione, Mano and their friends show how they survive.
The “Drifter” movie: They were able to save the oars and a piece of wire and set out to capture what they hoped for their first meal in 8 days.
They showed how to eat raw fish and quench their thirst by raiding the nests of seabirds-drinking blood and laying eggs.
Holly Williams: Any food, any drink.
Mano Totau: Any food. No matter how terrible and dirty it is, having it at that time is a very beautiful thing.
When they regained enough strength, Mano and Sione told us that they climbed up the densely forested plateau on the island, where they found a clay pot, machete and chicks, all these little Tongans lived in’Ata slave The trafficker transported it home as early as a century ago.
But they told us that when they finally caught fire and started cooking, everything changed.
Holly Williams: How did you stop it from exiting?
Sione Fataua: I tell everyone that everyone has the responsibility to catch fire. You must take care of the fire, and you must pray that night and get up in the morning, but it continues.
Teenage fugitives showed extraordinary wit-building huts with palm leaves, gardens with bananas and beans, and establishing a roster to monitor passing ships. They even built a badminton court and a temporary gym. They told us-they get along most of the time.
Holly Williams: But, please, Manor. You are a teenage boy. You must have an argument.
Mano Totau: We did it, but we disagree.
Mano said they walked to the opposite side of the island to cool down, although sometimes things get out of hand.
Holly Williams: So if there is a fight, how do you stop it?
Mano Totau: You acked him or something like that, and then said to him: “Shut up, calm down, sit down, and listen.”
Holly Williams: There must be times when you feel depressed and think you will never see your family again.
Sione Fataua: It’s difficult. I was-pray to God, and-I promised him, “If you can bring me back, I will serve you for the rest of my life.”
The little-known story of Sione, Mano and their friends outside Tonga for more than 50 years…until Dutch historian and best-selling author Rutger Bregman stumbled upon it on the Internet. He flew around the world to meet Mano and used this story as the cornerstone of his new book “Humanity: A History of Hope.”
Rutger Bregman: I just don’t understand how this hasn’t become one of the most famous stories of the 20th century. I just don’t understand, because it’s so amazing. Six kids stayed on an island for 15 months. They survived, what happened?
Like thousands of others, Bregman also read fabricated The boy after school, the story of Lord of the Flies, has been taught in high schools around the world for generations.
This novel was later made into a movie, describing the nightmare of a group of British boys stranded on an uninhabited island. They were divided into two competing tribes and reduced to violent elements, eventually leading to chaos and murder.
Rutger Bregman (Rutger Bregman): This is indeed an old theory in Western culture, that is, our civilization is only a thin skin, only a thin layer. Moreover, when something bad happens (such as a natural disaster or a shipwreck on an island, you have the freedom to build your own society), people can reveal their true identity. You know, the people deep inside are just selfish.
Holly Williams: Are you saying that the basic idea behind the novel “Lord of the Flies” is wrong? Are you saying that will never happen?
Rutger Bregman: Well, if there are still tens of millions of children reading “Lord of the Flies” in schools today, I think when real children die on real islands, they too We should understand this situation in world history. Because that is a very different story.
The story of cooperation, hope and ultimate salvation. After more than 15 months of hard work, in September 1966, Australian lobster fisherman Peter Warner sailed near Ata and found a depleted patch. When he approached, he was surprised to see a figure of a person.
Peter Warner: The first character is swimming towards us, as I said, crawling in Australia. Then five more corpses jumped off the cliff, dived into the water, and followed him.
They climbed onto the boat and told the crew how they escaped from the boarding school, and finally died. Peter radioed to Nuku’alofa, the capital of Tonga, to check their stories.
Peter Warner: The operator said tearfully: “Yes. These boys are students of this university. They have been sentenced to death. The funeral has been held. Now you have found them.” So, for us For everyone, it was a very exciting time.
Holly Williams: So you know you are going home.
Mano Totau: Yes
Holly Williams: How does it feel?
Mano Totau: It’s like walking through the door of heaven.
But Paradise will have to wait-when they return to the port, they are immediately arrested.
Holly Williams: Peter Warner rescued you and brought you back to Nukuʻalofa. Everyone thought you were dead. Then you were arrested?
Sione Fataua: Yes. We were arrested because we stole the boat. (laugh)
Peter Warner told us that he paid off the identity of the owner of the stolen ship, and eventually sent the out-of-control boys back to his home island, and took an Australian film crew to film their story. They caught the teenager’s reunion with his family.
The movie “Wanderers”: Our boy is back…
Sione Fataua: My mother, she was swimming before I got off the boat. I am the first person to go to the beach, please give me a hug.
“Drifter” movie: Never before has it been so happy…
Peter Warner: All the residents of this small island are on the beach, hugging the boy. The parents are crying. Then the party started. A six-day feast.
This story has never been forgotten on these islands, but when a British newspaper published a chapter of Rutger Bregman’s book in May last year, the story of Tongan teenagers was all the rage within a few days. 7 million people read the story. Hollywood film studios bid for film rights.
Holly Williams: Why is this story you tell so many people around the world surprised and fascinated?
Rutger Bregman: Maybe we need to listen? Maybe now especially during a pandemic? Whether people are looking for a story that makes them hope for different lifestyles, that is, different societies are possible. This is not only violence and selfishness and greed in human nature, but we can build on different things. Maybe this is the reason.
It has been 55 years since the shipwrecked boy was rescued. They never had any questions about how or why they survived.
Sione Fataua: I think where our culture comes from. We are very close. It’s really close. We share everything. We are poor, but we love each other.
These teenagers have no interest in returning to the classroom. At first they worked for Peter Warner, who opened a fishing company in Tonga. As promised, Sione later became a minister-he is now the head of the Tonga Church in the United States. Mano was trained as a chef and moved to Australia. For half a century, he and Peter Warner have been best friends. As long as they can sail, they will always return to the Pacific Ocean, where they began their friendship.
Holly Williams: In the years since the rescue, why did you get along so well?
Mano Totau: I think we have a strong feeling about ourselves, that we need to help each other.
Peter Warner: Yes, and-
Mano Totau: Teach each other.
Peter Warner: And, we have a common belief, that is to let you pass the trial on the island, you know, love, sympathy and…
Mano Totau: Yes.
Peter Warner: Justice, unity.
Mano Totau: We both believe in the same thing.
When teenagers compose on Siosionoa, they get nothing every day.Mano went back to the time when they longed to go home, and then they couldn’t even imagine them This story may have implications for all of us.
Produced by Michael H. Gavshon. Associate producer Nadim Roberts (Nadim Roberts). Broadcasting assistant Annabelle Hanflig. Edited by Daniel J. Glucksman.