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How Tonga got its King

Live and let live

George Tupou V, King of Tonga

The following story may not be entirely true, or verifiable. But that’s how I heard it, a long time ago, told by a friend of Tongan origin.

Mafu was my friend from Tonga. We’ve (my wife and me, that is) met him shortly after we arrived in the US, and we took a liking to each other, almost instantly. He was a stout guy, very strong: he came to the US to play football but was injured in his first year. After that, he got married and started a landscaping business.

He’d visit us frequently. We’d sit around, talking, drinking beer, shooting the breeze. On one of those occasions, all of the sudden, he asked:

Hey, do you know how Tonga got its king?

No - I replied.

Well, once upon a time, there weren’t that many people in Tonga. Some were sitting by the fire, chatting, not doing much. All of the sudden, one of them got up and said:

Hey guys, you know what?

What? - replied others.

From now on, I’m going to be your king!

Other meekly looked at him, and, after a short pause, shrugged their shoulders and said:


And? - I asked, expecting more.

That’s it, the end of the story - said Mafu, smiling.

I was left speechless.

Is it true? - I asked, amazed.

Yes, it is, that how I heard it from my grandpa - Mafu replied.

The beauty and poetry of this story still resonate with me. It would be nice if all the people are like ancient Tongans.



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