The story of Wawa Chombonggai was given some happy closure last night on Sunday Night, and with it a chapter in Australian TV folklore….
Matt Doran presented an emotional story in which he met the smiling 20 year old.
Wawa was just 6 years old when he first appeared on Australian TV current affairs, first on 60 Minutes by Ben Fordham, who reported he was marked for cannibalism by the Korowai tribe in West Papua, because both his parents had died.
It reached the heights of tabloid TV when Today Tonight‘s attempts to rescue him were thwarted by a visa breach -dramatically revealed this year to have been a tip-off by former Nine News boss Garry Linnell.
Doran revealed he six year old had been fostered by a then-Seven “fixer” Kornelius Sembiring, growing up with his family in Sumatra. Kornelius revealed Seven monies paid for the first six years of Wawa’s primary education. Now a practising Christian, Wawa is also studying sports science at University.
Last night Matt Doran accompanied Wawa back to his tribe where relatives embraced him. It was moving stuff.
The story was not without further drama. Wawa’s younger brother Devi, locally deemed a “sorcerer”, faces similar risks, if he does not follow local rules. Wawa had hoped to take him to Sumatra, and promises to return.
It was a nice way to wrap up the Wawa tale (so long as we don’t hear of further machinations in the chase for a news story).
The full story can be seen at 7plus.