PHILIP DOSSICK

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Speke's Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile

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Speke's Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile

6.25

Speke’s Journal is the classic travelogue by the British Army officer John Hanning Speke, that describes the daily trials and tribulations of his safari in search of the source of Africa’s Nile River.

Despite being temporarily blinded and deafened, he returned with a memoir that describes parts of sub-Saharan Africa that had never been seen before by Europeans,

Remarkable in scope and rich in thought, Speke’s Journal, intended as an essay for the Royal Geographic Society of England, also served as a catalog of the people, flora and fauna, and geography of eastern Africa to the greater public.

Obtaining the location of the source of the Nile not only meant world fame for its discoverers, it also greatly increased the probability of controlling this waterway by the British Empire.

Upon Speke’s return to England, fellow explorer Captain Richard Burton would not accept Speke’s claim to have discovered the Nile’s source, for which he felt there was no conclusive evidence.

Burton believed that the true source was ‘his’ Lake Tanganyika.

Burton felt belittled and was infuriated by Speke’s account in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine. The breach between them was never healed.

Speke was only thirty-seven when he died in a shooting accident.

It was not until years later that he was proven to have been right and that Lake Victoria Nyanza is the true source of the Nile.

“The volume which Captain Speke has presented to the world possesses more than geographic interest. It is a monument of perseverance, courage, and temper displayed under difficulties which perhaps never have been equaled.”
-The Times

 

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