1902 Encyclopedia > Geography > 19th Century Exploration of Africa. Sir Richard Burton. John Hanning Speke.

(Part 45)

19th Century Exploration of Africa. Sir Richard Burton. John Hanning Speke.

Geographical discoveries of the 19th century have had a great work to do in Africa. D’Anville and his successors cleared off all that was uncertain on the map, all that had come from the information given by Duarte Lopez to Pigafetta, and from Leo Africanus, and left a great blank. James Bruce and Mungo Park, Clapperton and Tuckey, merely touched the edges or penetrated in single line across the vast unknown area.

But they have been followed by many others, and now great progress has been made. In 1831 Monteiro and Gamitta were sent by the Portuguese Government, in the footsteps of La Cerda, to the capital of Cazembe; while, in 1849 and 1843-47, Ladislaus Magyar and Graça explored some of the southern affluents of the Congo.

Rüppell (1838), Harris (1843), and Dr Beke (1840), Lefebvre and Dillon (1839-43), Ferret and Galinier (1847) improved the existing knowledge of Abyssinia, to which a further important contribution was made by the expeditionary field force sent in 1867-68 to enforce the release of English captives; and progress was made, under the auspices of the Egyptian Government, in exploring the White Nile above Khartoum.

In 1849 the discoveries of Denham and Clapperton were followed up by Richardson, Overweg, and Barth, who, like their predecessors, went from Tripoli to Mourzouk, the capital of Fezzan. The two first died in Africa, but Dr Barth returned home with a rich harvest of results. He reached Kouka the capital of Bornoue, on Lake Tchad [Lake Chad], and in 1851 he visited the south side of that lake, and advanced some distance to the eastward. In 1852 he was at Sacctoo, where Clapperton died, whence he crossed the Niger and eventually reached Timbuctoo. After a stay of some months Dr Barth left Timbuctoo

in March 1854, and got back to Tripoli in the end of 1855, being the sole survivor of his party. Dr Vogel, in 1853-57, followed up the discoveries in the direction of Lake Tchad [Lake Chad], and fell a victim to science; and the researchers of Dr Baikie in 1854 supplemented the work of the Landers in the lower part of the course of the Niger. Dr Baikie also explored 250 miles of the river Chadda or Benne.

On the eastern coast of Africa, the missionaries Rebmann and Krapf ascertained the existence of the snowy peaks of Kenia [Kenya] and Kilimanjaro near the equator, and collected reports touching the equatorial lakes in the Interior.

This led to the expedition of captain Burton in 1857, who accompanied by Captain Speke, landed opposite to Zanzibar, and, advancing westward discovered Lake Tanganyika. Captain Burton’s admirable description of the region between the coast and the great lake he had discovered is one of the most valuable contributions to African descriptive geography.

His companion, Captain Speke, made an excursion northwards to the southern coast of a lake which he judged to be a main source of the Nile. In this belief he again set out in 1860 to attempt the achievement of journey from Bagamoyo, opposite Zanzibar, to the Nile. This great enterprise was crowned with success. Speke traced out the western shore, and visited the northern outlet, of the Victoria Nyanza, the main reservoir of the White Nile. He then marched northwards to Gondokoro and descended the Nile. He had heard of a second great Nile reservoir, which Sir Samuel Baker discovered in 1864, and named the Albert Nyanza.

The Bahr el Ghazal and other western feeders of the Nile were visited by Consul Petherick, and explored in 1868-71 by Dr Schweinfurth, whose work ranks with that of Burton as a record of African discovery.

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