Incredible story behind what REALLY happened to a six-year-old boy marked for death by his CANNIBAL tribe – as he returns to the jungle to reunite with the men who wanted to eat him
- Wawa Chombonggai was six years old when his tribe sentenced him to death
- He returned to Papua to reunite with his old tribe and ‘change their way of life’
- The 20-year-old got a warm welcome – different to the last time he was there
A six-year-old boy who was condemned to death by his cannibalistic tribe because they thought he was a witch after his parents died has returned to the jungle to reunite with the people who wanted to eat him.
The Korowai tribe, from the Papua region of Indonesia, which Wawa Chombonggai grew up in, believe when a person dies it is because of a bad spirit.
The clan traditionally hunt the person they believe is responsible for unexpected deaths, kill and eat them for their perceived crime.
When both Wawa’s parents suddenly died in 2006, they believed it was because Wawa was a witch and planned his gruesome death.
But Kornelius Sembiring, a guide for Channel Seven more than a decade ago, heard of Wawa’s plight and recused the child before taking him into his own home in Sumatra 13 years ago.
Wawa Chombonggai (pictured as a child) was sentenced to death by his cannibalistic tribe after the sudden death of his parents
Wawa is now 20 and still living with his foster family – thankful for the second chance at life.
But he was keen to return to the area where he had been marked for a brutal death.
The sports science university student said he wanted to educated his people on why they shouldn’t kill and eat one another.
Wawa went into the jungle with his brothers and sister Wilhelmus, Devi and Lepina for the emotional reunion.
The devout Christian reunited with his old cannibalistic tribe – shaking hands with a man before his aunts embraced him and lamented over the lost years with their nephew.
Wawa (pictured as an adult) returned to the village 13 years later in an attempt to rectify their way of life
Wawa was overwhelmed with the greeting he faced when he returned to the tribe.
He broke down in tears while Kornelius spoke for him.
‘Before he feels like he was just alone. But now… [it feels like] he had a big family,’ Kornelius told Sunday Night.
Kornelius said the young man was happy with the outcome.
However, despite the warm welcome, Wawa eventually confronted his Korowai family about what happened to his uncle, who was killed due to an affair with another man’s wife.
The Korowai (pictured in 2006) that Wawa grew up in believe that when a person dies it is because of a bad spirit
‘We should talk and discuss in a nice way to get a solution. Why do you kill like that? Don’t we have a solution like talking to the other people or talking to the leader of society,’ he asked.
He wanted his tribe to learn a different way of life as their current way makes them ‘weak’ and susceptible to being taken over by another group, he said.
Wawa’s uncles listened to him and said they wanted the young man to become the leader of the tribe – a far cry from what almost happened to him as a child.
The tribe hunt, kill and eat the people they believe are responsible their loved ones death. Pictured: The tribe cut up animal meat
Wawa’s parents died when he was young, leading the villagers to believe he was a bad spirit.
Even though he returned to the place he once called home he still remembered the very real threat he faced there.
‘If I had stayed in the village then I was at risk,’ he said.
Wawa’s parents died when he was young, leading the villagers to believe he was a bad spirit. Pictured: A skull found in the village
His brother, Devi, is also believed to be a sorcerer and faces a similar threat.
Wawa wanted to bring his younger brother home with him but was unable to do so this time around.
He was told Devi would be safe if he obeyed the terms of his exile – and Wawa has high hopes for his former home.
The football player left the village in tears when he returned home – but he promised to return.