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A historical find

Ana Madigibuli
Thursday, May 22, 2014

A SIGNIFICANT piece of history, a small enclosed concrete plot that has the coffin containing a bone of the late Reverend Thomas Baker, who was killed at Nubutautau in 1867, was found at the Thomas Baker hall in Nausori on Monday.

The enclosed plot, which is underneath the hall's pulpit, was discovered by construction workers who were doing renovation work in the Baker Hall.

Davuilevu Theological College history lecturer Reverend Ilimeleki Susu said the bone was given to the former chairman of the Methodist Mission, Reverend Arthur Small, in the early 1900 by the people of Nubutautau where Mr Baker was murdered.

Mr Susu said Mr Small handed over the piece of bone to his successor Reverend Robert. L. McDonald in 1925.

"Mr McDonald, on January 7, 1926 handed over the remaining bone to the principal of the Davuilevu Theological College, Reverend Charles. O. Lelean, who then, with students from his college, did the last honour in burying Mr Baker's bone," Mr Susu said.

"The bone has been buried for 81 years at the hall and no one knew where exactly within the hall premises until the construction workers discovered it.

"Mr Lelean, at the time, wrote a letter to Mr McDonald informing him of the last honour that he and his students did to the remains of the late Reverend Baker."

Mr Susu said an engraving made by Mr Lelean on the coffin reads "This casket contains a bone of Thomas Baker who was killed at Navosa on July 21 1867".

Construction worker Mukesh Chandra said he was surprised and shocked to discover a concrete plot underneath the hall while removing the timber floors.

"We did not know what it was until we read what was engraved on the plot which was "Thomas Baker 1867" then we realised that it was a small burial plot for the late Thomas Baker," Mr Chandra said.

Methodist Church general secretary Reverend Tevita Nawadra said the bone would not be removed from the hall after the renovation work was completed.

Mr Nawadra said it was a significant piece of history for all Methodists in Fiji as it showed and reminded them of the sacrifices that Reverend Baker in taking the Word of God to the people.