Five Adventurers Who Ended Up As Someone’s Dinner

Five Adventurers Who Ended Up As Someone’s Dinner

Just as you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs, you can’t lead an exciting life of adventure and derring-do without knowing you might end up being eaten. Cannibalism is one of those things nobody seeks out, but you’re that bit more likely to be exposed to if, say, you’re thousands of miles from home, strolling up to a group with a track record of eating people, while looking plump as all hell. Which, unfortunately, everyone below found out the hard way…

The Palatable Pirate

François l’Olonnais (1630-1669) packed a lot of bastardry into his short life. One of his preferred ways of torturing people, for instance, was to wrap rope around their heads until so much pressure built up that their eyes popped out. What a stinker. He and his crew tortured and murdered hundreds of people on their various raids of towns in Haiti, Venezuela and Honduras. On one occasion he cut out someone’s heart and gnawed on it to prove a point. A real piece of shit, this guy. Eventually, though, his reign of terror came to an end when he was captured by the indigenous Guna tribe of Panama, who tore him apart and ate him. Good! What an a-hole.

The Piquant Politician

Johan de Witt (1625-1672) was a Dutch politician who was essentially the leader of the Dutch Republic during the Anglo-Dutch War, and helped broker the peace treaty between the Republic and England. He also set up the Triple Alliance with England and Sweden, uniting against France. However, in 1672 — known in Dutch as the Rampjaar, or “disaster year” — it all went wrong for him. The English and French formed a secret alliance and attacked the Dutch Republic. (This period in Dutch history is best described as incredibly fucking confusing.) This led to an uprising, and de Witt and his brother were killed by a militia — first shot, then dangled naked upside-down, their bodies cut open and various parts pulled off and eaten by members of the crowd. Pretty grim stuff.

The Exquisite Explorer

Giovanni da Verrazzano (1485-1528) was an Italian explorer, the first European to explore the Atlantic coast of North America. In trying to find a trade route through to the Pacific (the Northwest Passage, which wasn’t properly discovered until the 20th century) he was the first non-indigenous person to set foot in what is now New York, as well as to make detailed maps of previously unexplored areas, including Cape Cod. On his third voyage to America, he explored further south than before, sailing from Florida to the Bahamas and further down to the lesser Antilles. Anchoring near Guadeloupe, he rowed ashore and encountered members of the indigenous Kalinago population. The Kalinago had a fearsome reputation for cannibalism, thought to have been exaggerated to some extent by the conquistadors who encountered them, but eating enemies as part of a war ritual was still very much a thing of theirs. In fact, the word “cannibal” comes from the Kalinago word karibna, meaning “person.” How did this work out for da Verrazzano? Deliciously.

The Succulent Senator

Victor Biaka Boda (1913-1950) was a shaman turned politician in Côte d’Ivoire. The late 1940s were an incredibly chaotic time for the country politically — there were riots, a general strike, hunger strikes in prison and an air of high tension overall. Boda was a senator for the Rassemblement Démocratique Africain, the anti-colonialism, pro-Africa party, who found themselves being suppressed by the French government and army. There was widespread political dissatisfaction in all directions, and things were at breaking point. In January 1950, Boda’s car broke down near the small town of Bouaflé. While his chauffeur worked on fixing it, Boda went for a stroll. He was never seen alive again, but his bones were recovered a year later, charred from cooking. As Time magazine put it, as far as politicians in France believed, “The Senator had been eaten by his constituents.”

The Mouth-Watering Missionaries

If there’s one job that really increases your chances of being eaten, it’s being a missionary. There’s something about smugly turning up in a fancy suit with a load of Bibles that gets people licking their lips. In 1839, for instance, Protestant congregationalist missionaries John Williams and James Harris visited the island of Erromango on the Vanuatu archipelago. They were killed and eaten. In 1867, Methodist missionary Thomas Baker touched the head of a tribal chief in Fiji, an act that was seen as deeply disrespectful. He was then killed and eaten. In 1901, missionaries James Chalmers and Oliver Fellows Tomkins went to Guaribari in Papua New Guinea, and after a bit of awkwardness with local people refusing to get off their ship, they were killed and eaten. 

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions — it turns out the road to the inside of a tribal chief’s stomach is the same.

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