What Led To The Discovery of the Source Of The Nile Footnotes
1. Without exception, and after having now shot over three quarters of the globe, I can safely
say, there does not exist any place in the whole wide world which affords such a diversity of
sport, such interesting animals, or such enchanting scenery, as well as pleasant climate and
temperature, as these various countries of my first experiences, but the more especially interesting
was Tibet to me, from the fact that I was the first man who penetrated into many of its remotest
parts, and discovered many of its numerous animals.
2. Lieutenant Burton received £100 from the Royal Geographical Society to cross Africa
from west to east, and whilst attempting that journey he got drifted off with the flood of pilgrims
to Mecca. See his book.
3. I had then mapped Tibet, and had laid down several new districts which even to this day
have not been trodden by any European but myself.
4. Wadi, river or nullah.
5. It is questionable whether or not these Christians were driven south, fought at Mombas,
were repulsed, and since have crossed the Nile to where we now find them, under the name of
Wahuma. People may argue against the possibility of this, as the Wahuma do not keep horses; but
the only reason, I believe, why they do not, is simply because horses won't live in those rich
6. Lieutenant Cruttenden, in his geographical treatise, describes the Darud family as being
divided into four tribes, and, in addition to the three of which I heard, places the fourth or
Murreyhan in his map to the southward of the country of Ugahden, lying between his Wadi Nogal
and the Webbe Shebéli river.
7. The Somali, in their own country, consider the Arab's gown and trousers effeminate; so
on return to Africa they throw off the Arab costume again.
8. This proved a great mistake. By having both men of the same tribe for my entire
dependence, they invariably acted in concert against me like two brothers.
9. Akil, plural Okál--chief or elder.
10. The sultan has four sons.
11. This gazelle is slightly different from the Dorcas, and, I believe, has never been obtained
12. In talking of white men or Europeans, the Somali always say English French, those two
branches of the European community being all they are acquainted with.
13. Tobe, properly thobe, the dress used by Somali of both sexes. It consists of a white cloth,
eight cubits long, frequently adorned with gaily-coloured edges; by the men it is worn loosely
round the body with the end thrown over the shoulder, very much like the Roman toga. The
women gather it in folds round the waist, where it is confined by a string, and both ends are
fastened in a knot across the breast.
14. It may appear strange that these men would not accept anything from me in payment
except such things as they were accustomed to; and many of the pretty baubles which I brought
from Calcutta, and considered would allure them by their beauty, proved of no use here as a
medium of exchange.
15. Tug, in the Somali language, signifies a periodical river, or watercourse, the same as Wadi
in Arabic, and Nullah in Hindustani.
16. Durbar--Eastern Court.
17. Lions, as well as other large animals, are said to come into the Nogal during the rainy
season, when water and grass are abundant.
18. Unfortunately, when sent on this mission, I was not furnished with a chart, and had never
seen any works written on the subject.
19. For the advancement of future investigations, I would here notice the reported existence
of a large reptile like the armadillo--probably a Manis--which the Somali think a very remarkable
animal. It is said by them to be common in Haud, is very slow in motion, has a hard scaly exterior
coating, invulnerable to their spears, and capable of supporting the weight of a man without any
apparent inconvenience to the creature who bears it.
20. From the presence of these crosses, it would appear as though in ignorance they had
adopted the emblem of their Christian predecessors.
21. Ras means point or headland.
22. This interesting little animal has since been compared by Mr Blyth, curator of the Asiatic
Society, Calcutta, and determined to be a new genus, and was named by him Pectinator Spekei.
23. Then changed to Colonel Coghlan.
24. These notes were reported in an Appendix in the 'First Footsteps in East Africa,' by
Lieutenant Burton, with his other reports of this expedition.
25. To say the least of it, this was a very dangerous policy to play with a people who consider
might right, and revenge to death.
26. Since this was written I have asked Lieutenant-Colonel Playfair his opinion on this matter, and the subjoined is the reply:--"In this Lieutenant Burton erred; and this was the termina causa of all the mishaps which befell the expedition. The institution of Abbanage is of great antiquity, and is the representative amongst a barbarous people of our customs laws, inasmuch as every trader or traveller pays to his Abban a certain percentage on the merchandise he buys or sells, and even on the food he purchases for his own use.
"A traveller who hopes for success in exploring a new country must accept the institutions he
finds in existence, he can hardly hope, by his simple fiat, to revolutionise the time-honoured and
most profitable institutions of a people, amongst whom precedent is a law as unchangeable as that
of the Medes and Persians."
27. Siyareh, a fort and small village belonging to the Makahil branch of the Habr Awel, is the
watering-place of Berbera, and derives a small revenue from the boats which touch there en route
to, and returning from, the Berbera fair. During this year it attained an unenviable notoriety as the
rendezvous for the slaves intended for export to the Persian Gulf. Many of these were free Somali
girls, sold by their relatives or kidnapped by their friends. Colonel Playfair wrote to me that one
hundred and forty boys and girls were rescued here in the early part of this year by H.M.S. Lady
28. Colonel Playfair thinks 20,000 men nearer the right number.
29. I must here notice, although I have endeavoured to stick as closely as possible to the
narration of my own story in these pages, that I saw Herne, who had been guarding the rear,
opposed to the whole brunt of the attack, fighting gallantly with his sable antagonists; and from
the resolution with which he fired at them, he must have done some damage.
30. Articles of peace and friendship concluded between the Habr Owel tribe of Somali on the one part, and Brigadier William Marcus Coghlan, Political Resident at Aden, on behalf of the Honourable East India Company, on the other.
"Whereas, on the 19th of April 1855 (corresponding with the 1st of Shaban 1271), a treacherous attack and murder were perpetrated at the port of Berbera by a party of Habr Owel tribe, upon a party of British officers, about to travel in that country with the consent and under the protection of the elders of the tribe, in consequence of which outrage certain demands were made by the Government of India, and enforced by a blockade of the Habr Owel coast; and whereas it has become apparent that the said tribe has fulfilled these conditions to the utmost of its ability, and has prayed to be relieved from the blockade; therefore it is agreed,--
"1st, That the elders of the Habr Owel will use their best endeavours to deliver up Ou Ali, the murderer of Lieutenant Stroyan.
"2d, That, until this be accomplished, the sub-tribe Esa Moosa, which now shelters, and any other tribe which may hereafter shelter, harbour, or protect the said Ou Ali, shall be debarred from coming to Aden.
"3d, That all vessels sailing under the British flag shall have free permission to trade at the port of Berbera, or at any other place in the territories of the Habr Owel; and that all British subjects shall enjoy perfect safety in every part of the said territories, and shall be permitted to trade or travel there under the protection of the elders of the tribe. In like manner shall the members of the Habr Owel tribe enjoy similar privileges at Aden, or in any other part of the British possessions.
"4th, The traffic in slaves through the Habr Owel territories, including the port of Berbera, shall cease for ever; and any slave or slaves who, contrary to this engagement, shall be introduced into the said territories, shall be delivered up to the British; and the commander of any vessel of Her Majesty's or the Honourable East India Company's navy shall have the power of demanding the surrender of such slave or slaves, and of supporting the demand by force of arms, if necessary.
"5th, The Political Resident at Aden shall have the power to send an agent to reside at Berbera during the season of the fair, should he deem such a course necessary, to see that the provisions of this agreement are observed; and such agent will be treated with the respect and consideration due to the British Government.
"6th, That on a solemn promise being given by the elders of the Habr Owel, faithfully to abide by the articles of this agreement, and to cause the rest of the tribe to do so likewise, and to deliver up to the Political Resident at Aden any party who may violate it, the blockade of the Habr Owel coast shall be raised, and perpetual peace and friendship shall exist between the British and the Habr Owel.
"Done at Berbera this seventh day of November, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-six of the Christian era (corresponding with the eighth day of Rabea-el-Owel, one thousand two hundred and seventy-two of the Hejira).
(Signed) MAHOMED ARRA'LEH, - Ayal Yoonus.
(Signed) AHMED ALI BOOKERI, - Ayal Yoonus.
(Signed) NOOR FA'RRAH, - Ayal Yoonus.
(Signed) AHMED GHA'LID, - Ayal Ahmed.
(Signed) MAHOMMED WA'IS, - Ayal Ahmed
(Signed) MUGGAN MAHOMMED, - Ayal Ahmed
(Signed) ROOBLIE HASSAN, - Makáhíl.
(Signed) ATEYAH HILDER, - Makáhíl.
(Signed) FARRAH BENI'N, - Makáhíl.
(Signed) AWADTH SHERMARKIE,- Ayal Hamood.
"Signed in my presence at Berbera, on the 7th November 1856.
(Signed) R. L. PLAYFAIR, Assistant Political Resident, Aden.
(Signed) W. M. COGHLAN, Political Resident.
"Aden, 9th November 1856.
"Ratified by the Right Honourable the Governor-General of India in Council, at Fort William, this 23d day of January 1857.
And Five Members of Council of India."
31. I was first blinded by ophthalmia when a child, which had ever since rendered reading a
very painful task; and again I suffered from snow-blindness whilst crossing over the Himalayas
32. The cheque, I found, after my arrival in England, was not credited in my account, so I had,
after all, to pay my own passage.
33. I must add here, to show that the generous hospitality of the Indian navy was now as
strong in force as ever it was, that the wardroom officers, not being aware of the intended
generosity of the Government to supply us with messing gratis, had laid in an extra store of
provisions for the purpose of making us their guests.
34. Banyans are the only class of coloured men who have the ability to be accountants. They
fill this office properly, and are therefore always selected for it.
35. On starting to the rescue, my companion complained of the shock his nerves had received
since the Somali encounter, and this appeared to affect him during the whole of this journey.
36. Caravans have also reached the shores of the N'yanza at 1 deg. S. lat., and entered Usoga,
rounding its north-east corner.
37. See further description of this, page 185.
38. See Bombay's history, page 210.
39. In future I shall call this fringe or mountain-chain the East Coast Range, in
contradistinction to the same hill-formation on the western coast of Africa; for it must be
remembered that there are three great leading features in the geographical formation of
Africa--viz., a low exterior belt of land, or margin to the continent, varying in breadth according
to circumstances, which is succeeded by a high belt of mountains or rugged ground, separating
the lowlands from a high interior plateau, lying like a basin within the fringe of hills.
40. The officers of state cannot receive a present without the sanction of the government.
41. The murderers of Dr Boscher were sent to Zanzibar by the chief of their tribe, and were
executed by orders of the Sultan.
42. To save repetition, I may as well mention the fact that neither Captain Burton nor myself
were able to converse in any African language until we were close to the coast on the return
43. Another question suggests itself. How did Ptolemy hear of the two lakes which he
considered were the sources of the Nile? It is obvious he could not have done so by the channel of
the Nile, for the Anthropophagi barred all communication in that direction. Here, however, the
route from Zanzibar to the Tanganyika Lake and the Victoria N'yanza, in all probability, was kept
open by the trading "Men of the Moon;" and thus two lakes were heard of situated east and west
of one another, just in convenient situations to fit on to the two branches of Ptolemy's Nile.
45. The Babisa purchase ivory at Luwemba for the Kilua merchant, and are met there by the
46. I have since heard from Colonel Rigby (Colonel Hamerton's successor) that Hamed and
all his slaves were murdered on their journey to Uruwa, and their property was seized by the
47. Here is the confusion again of the Nile and the lake as one water. The Nile was in reality
five marches east of Kibuga, and the boundary of the lake one march to its southward. Snay
obviously meant it so, for it was the river he thought was the Jub, but I did not understand him.
48. See Dr Beke's paper on 'The Sources of the Nile,' printed 1849.
49. Kirangozi--leader of a caravan.
50. Sheikh Said has since declared, in "the most solemn manner, that Captain Burton
positively forbade his going." This happened when we were at Usenyé, and immediately after I
first asked the Sheikh.
51. Captain Burton started with two huge elephant-guns, one double rifle, one pea-rifle, one
air-gun, two revolving pistols, and a cross-bow, all of which he used for display to amuse the
52. Sukuma means north, and the Wasukuma are consequently northmen, or northern
53. Barsati--a coloured cloth.
54. One dhoti = 2 shukkas; 1 shukka--4 cubits, or 2 yards, merikani (American sheeting).
55. Kiniki--a thin indigo-dyed cloth.
56. Boma--a palisade. A village or collection of huts so fortified is called so also.
57. This, I maintain, was the discovery of the source of the Nile. Had the ancient kings and
sages known that a rainy zone existed on the equator, they would not have puzzled their brains so
long, and have wondered where those waters came from which meander through upwards of a
thousand miles of scorching desert without a single tributary.
58. This magnificent sheet of water I have ventured to name VICTORIA, after our gracious
Sovereign. Its length was not clearly understood by me, in consequence of the word Sea having
been applied both to the Lake and to the Nile by my local informants; and there was no recent
map of the Nile with the expedition by which I might have been guided.
59. I now think the breadth is over one hundred miles.
60. Mahaya said he was of Wahinda extraction, or from the princes of the Wahuma; but this I
do not believe, for his features bore the strongest possible testimony against him.
61. The King of Uganda has sent presents by boat to Machunda, Sultan of Ukéréwé, coasting
along the western shore of the lake. Mtésa told me this himself, and asked me if I knew Machunda
62. The Waganda also send boats for salt to the Bahari (Lake) Ngo, at the north-east corner
of the lake.
63. On my return to England I constructed a map representing this view, and lectured on the
same in presence of Captain Burton, who then raised no objections to what I said.
64. In England geographers doubted this; and after it was printed, Dr Petermann had reason to
change his opinion. However, Knoblecher was not far wrong, as I have since made the latitude of
Gondokoro 4° 54' north.
65. The rising of the Katonga still puzzles me.
66. Kibuga means palace.
67. There are three cataracts between the N'yanza and Gondokoro: 1. from Ripon Falls to
Urondogani; 2. from Karuma Falls to Little Luta Nzigé; 3. from Apuddo to near Gondokoro.
68. Captain Burton, by way of having a special Lunæ Montes of his own, calls these
mountains a "mass of highlands, which, under the name of Karagwah, forms the western spinal
prolongation of the Lunar Mountains." See his 'Lake Regions,' vol. ii. p. 144.
69. There are exceptions to the rule in the instance of the Waganda, who are of an earth-red
colour; for these men never fight excepting in overpowering numbers.
70. The history of the Wahuma has been given in 'The Discovery of the Source of the Nile.'
The Watuta also have been alluded to, for they were fighting on my line of march. I heard then of
the arrival of a recent detachment from the west of the Nyassa, and subsequently I heard they had
71. The Wahuma are a link between the Masai and the Kafirs, so far as I can judge of the
common origin of this migratory pastoral race. The ethnologist ought to look well into this
matter, and treat it without regard to change of language or names, as time will efface and create
72. Since writing this, as I have had more insight into Africa by travelling from Kazé to Egypt down the whole length of the Nile, I would be sorry to leave this opinion standing without making a few more remarks. Of all places in Africa, by far the most inviting to missionary enterprise are the kingdoms of Karagué, Uganda, and Unyoro. They are extremely fertile and healthy, and the temperature is delightfully moderate. So abundant, indeed, are all provisions, and so prolific the soil, that a missionary establishment, however large, could support itself after the first year's crop. Being ruled by kings of the Abyssinian type, there is no doubt but that they have a latent Christianity in them. These kings are powerful enough to keep up their governments under numerous officers. They have expressed a wish to have their children educated; and I am sure the missionary need only go there to obtain all he desires on as secure a basis as he will find anywhere else in those parts of Africa which are not under the rule of Europeans. If this was effected by the aid of an Egyptian force at Gondokoro, together with an arrangement for putting the White Nile trade on a legitimate footing between that station and Unyoro, the heathen would not only be blessed, but we should soon have a great and valuable commerce. Without protection, though, I would not advise any one to go there.
Now, for the use of commercial inquirers, I may also add, that it may be seen in my 'Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile,' that the kings of these three countries were all, more or less, adverse to my passing through their countries to the Nile; but they gave way, and permitted my doing so, on my promising to open a direct trade with this country and theirs by the channel of that river. I gave them the promise freely, for I saw by the nature of the land, subjected as it is to frequently recurring showers of rain all the year round, that it will be, in course of time, one of the greatest nations on the earth. It is nearer to Europe than India; it is far more fertile, and it possesses none of those disagreeable elements of discontent which have been such a sharp thorn in our sides in India--I mean a history and a religion far anterior to our own, which makes those we govern there shrink from us, caused by a natural antipathy of being ruled by an inferior race, as we are by them considered to be. These countries, on the contrary, have no literature, and therefore have neither history nor religion to excite discontent should any foreigners intrench on their lands. By this I do not wish it to be supposed that I would willingly see any foreign European power upset these Wahuma governments; but, on the contrary, I would like to see them maintained as long as possible, and I seriously trust some steps may speedily be taken for that most desirable object. Should it not be so, then in a short time these kingdoms will fall into the hands of those vile ruffian traders on the White Nile, in the same way as Kazé has been occupied by the Arabs of Zanzibar. To give an instance of the way it most likely will be effected, I will merely state that the king of Unyoro begged me repeatedly to kill some rebel brothers of his, who were then occupying an island between his palace and the Little Luta Nzige. I would not do it, as I thought it would be a bad example to set in the country; but some time afterwards I felt sorry for it, for on arrival in Madi, where I first met the Nile traders, I found that they were in league with these very rebels to dethrone the king. The atrocities committed by these traders are beyond all civilised belief. They are constantly fighting, robbing, and capturing slaves and cattle. No honest man can either trade or travel in the country, for the natives have been bullied to such an extent that they either fight or run away, according to their strength and circumstance. That a great quantity of ivory is drawn from those countries I must admit, for these traders ramify in all directions, and, vying with one another, see who can get most ivory at the least expense, no matter what means they employ to obtain their ends.
At the same time, I have no hesitation in saying that ten times as much merchandise might be got at less expense, if the trade were protected by government means, and put on a legitimate footing. Those countries teem with cattle. The indigenous cotton is of very superior quality. Indigo, sugar-cane, coffee, tobacco, sesamum, and indeed all things that will grow in a tropical climate, may be grown there within 3 degrees of the equator, in luxurious profusion, and without any chance of failure owing to those long periodical droughts which affect all lands distant more than 3 degrees from the equator.
When I was sailing down the Nile, I could not help remarking to all the pashas I visited how strange it appeared that men so civilised as they were should be living in such a barren, hot, and glaring land as Egypt, when the negroes on the equator were absolutely living in the richest and pleasantest garden in the world, so far as nature has made the two countries.
Now, though I have dwelt so markedly on the surprising fertility of Uganda and Unyoro in particular, I do not wish it to be supposed that I consider those countries alone to be exclusively rich, for I believe there is a continuous zone of fertility stretching right across Africa from east to west, affected only by the nature of the soil. In advancing this argument, I hold that the greatest discovery I have made in Africa consists in my positive knowledge regarding the rainy system of Africa; and to exemplify it irrespectively of my meteorological observations, I will state emphatically that as surely as I have determined the source of the Nile to lie within 3 degrees of the equator, and that it cannot emanate from any point farther south, because all the lands beyond that limit are subject to long periodical droughts--so certain am I that the Tanganyika is supplied from the same source, or rainy zone, though draining in the opposite direction. Again, to its west also, from the same source of supply, the head-waters of the Zambézi take their origin. Still farther west, the fountains of the Congo must have their birth. Again, farther west still, the Chadda branch of the Niger can alone be thus supplied, and the same must be the case with the Gaboon river.
To carry this argument still farther, I would direct attention to the periodical conditions of the Blue Nile and Niger rivers. Both of these rivers rise in high mountains on the coast-range, at about 10 degrees north latitude, but on opposite sides of the continent. They are considered large rivers, but only in consequence of their great floodings, when the sun, in his northern declination, brings the rains over the seats of their birthplaces; for when the sun is in the south they shrink so low that the waters of the Blue river would never have power to reach the sea were they not assisted by the perennial stream of the White Nile.
The most important exploring expedition that any one could undertake now, would be to cross
Africa from east to west, keeping close to the first degree of north latitude, to ascertain the,
geological formation of that parallel. Within the coast-ranges, in consequence of the great
elevation of the land, the temperature is always moderate, and it is proved to be much more
healthy than any of those parts of Africa subjected to periodical seasons. Next to this scheme, I
would recommend this fertile zone to be attacked from Gondokoro on the Nile, and from Gaboon
(the French port) on the equator. The Gondokoro line, being known to a considerable extent, is
ready for working, and only requires government protection to make it succeed; but the other line
from the Gaboon should first be inspected by a scientific expedition.