Pitcairn Islands is a country whose history reads like a thriller. It consists of four volcanic islands out of which only Pitcairn is inhabited. The total population is 42. That is, Pitcairn Islands is a country with 42 people: as big as an Indian joint family.
The people of Pitcairn are the descendants of the Bounty mutineers as well as the Tahitians who accompanied the mutineers.
|ByRobert Dodd - National Maritime Museum|
The Bounty was a ship that was commissioned to collect and transport breadfruit from Tahiti to the British colonies in the West Indies. During the five-month layover in Tahiti, indiscipline crept into the marrow of the sailors. The idle mind is the devil’s workshop.
Back in the ship after a long and frolicsome sojourn on the Polynesian island, the crew met with serious disciplinary measures from Captain Lieutenant William Bigh. However, it was the captain who ended up being punished. The crew rebelled against him. There was a mutiny on the ship led by Fletcher Christian. The mutineers seized control of the ship. They put Capt Bligh and 18 others in a launch and set them adrift in the Pacific Ocean on 28 April 1789.
Capt Bligh was both fortunate and skilful enough to save himself and his companions. One year after being cast into the ocean, Bligh and his companions reached England in April 1790. Retaliatory action started. HMS Pandora was despatched to apprehend the mutineers, 14 of whom were captured in Tahiti. But Christian was intelligent enough not to stay in Tahiti. He and others who had settled down on the Pitcairn Island escaped the retaliation. It is their descendants who live on the island today.
The country was recently in the news because of its former Mayor who was sentenced for sexual abuse of children. The Mayor faced 25 charges. Child abuse is very common on the Island. One-third of the men on the Island (that is, seven in number) are guilty of the crime. The Island has become so notorious that no child can enter it without first getting an “entry clearance application” sanctioned.
England is spending three million pounds every year to attract new settlers on the Pitcairn. The climate is good. The British government is subsidising a lot of things. And yet there are no takers for the migratory offer.
It is not easy to reach the island, of course. It takes a 36-hour voyage by a 12-berth boat which sails once in three months. The return ticket costs $5000 from Mangareva in the French Polynesia.
For a detailed account of the mutiny, Caroline Alexander's The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty (2004) is ideal.
Here are some pictures from Pitcairn Islands from the National Geographic site.
|The Island is just 3.6 km long|
PS. Written for Indispire Edition 116: #DiscoverACountry