Africa

Explorer 16. Andersson

Karl Johan Andersson (1827 – 1867) more often used his anglicised name, Charles John Andersson; Swedish/English trader, miner, hunter; and amateur naturalist and ornithologist. He explored and collected in Sweden as a young man. He was the son of British bear hunter Llewellyn Lloyd, ‘impoverished but of good family,’ and a Swedish lady, a servant of Lloyd’s in Sweden. He was in London arranging another expedition up north when he met Francis Galton.

Andersson describes his introduction to Galton as follows: “Shortly after my arrival in London, Sir Hyde Parker, “The King of Fishermen,” introduced me to Mr. Francis Galton, who was then just on the point of undertaking an expedition to Southern Africa; his intention being to explore the unknown regions beyond the boundary of the Cape-of-Good-Hope Colony, and to penetrate, if possible, to the recently-discovered Lake Ngami. Upon finding that I, also, had an intention of traveling, and that our tastes and pursuits were, in many respects, similar, he proposed to me to give up my talked-of trip to the far north, and accompany him to the southward – promising, at the same time, to pay the whole of my expenses. This offer awoke within me all my former ambition; and, although I could not be blind to the difficulties and dangers that must necessarily attend such an expedition, I embraced, after some hesitation, Mr. Galton’s tempting and liberal proposal.” [Four Years in Africa, p. 3]

After Galton returned home, Andersson stayed in the region and conducted further expeditions of his own. He reached Lake Ngami in 1853 (like we did in 2010!).

– ca.1850’s –
– ca.2010’s – skyscanner.net –

In 1855 he returned to London, where he published his book “Lake Ngami.” (In 2010 I just wrote a blog post ‘We Kayak the Kalahari’). He returned to Africa the same year, later reaching the Okavango and the Cunene rivers.  He also launched several ventures in Damaraland, including a copper mining scheme. He was briefly elected Chief of the Damara in 1864, but he was severely wounded in battle against the Nama Hottentots. He died in Ovamboland (or in Angola? Probably not, as he wrote that he was ‘unable to cross the Cunene river.’) in 1867. Andersson is considered the most important early European explorer of the region.

His account of the ‘Ovampoland’ expedition to the Cunene was published in his book Four Years in Africa, usefully supplementing Galton’s own account (Travels in South Africa, in which Galton spoke highly of Andersson. Galton also recommended him to the Royal Geographical Society, which presented him with some scientific instruments).

Andersson also published several other works, including Notes of Travel in South-Western Africa (1875), edited and issued after his death by his father, Llewellyn Lloyd – the ‘British bear hunter,’ remember?

Andersson was chronically short of funds. While in London he tried to borrow money from Galton, attempting to find a publisher for his book, but Galton curtly refused in a letter: “I for my part cannot help you in the way you wish. I have nothing like fortune sufficient to do so. If you had struggled hard with a scrupulous economy, and if as Sir James Brooke did, you had even worked your passage home like a common sailor, if you had lived thriftily and frugally determining to keep as much as possible of what you had so well earned in order to win more, the world would have respected you the more highly. The example you would have set the world would have been a noble one, but a fatal pride has made you take another course and placed you, as I am sure you must acknowledge, in a very false position. We all of us make our mistakes in life. The true plan is to use faults as lessons to make us wiser.” Galton could be this rude as he was titled, wealthy and connected, while Andersson was none of those – and “illegitimate.” Always remember: IMO, there’s no such thing as an illegitimate child. Parents may have been guilty of illegitimate behaviour; but there’s no such thing as an illegitimate child. That description should be erased from the language, and would be if they’d elect me to the Oxford Annual New Words Committee.

  • Bibliography:
  • Andersson, Charles J.  “Explorations in South Africa, with the Route from Walfisch Bay to Lake Ngami”, Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, 25 (1855), pp. 79-107.
  • Andersson, Charles J.  Lake Ngami, or Explorations and Discoveries in the Wilds of Southern Africa. New York, 1856.
  • Andersson, Charles J.  The Okavango River, a Narrative of Travel, Exploration and Adventure. London, 1861.
  • Andersson, Charles J.  The Lion and The Elephant (L. Lloyd ed.). London, 1873.
  • Andersson, Charles J. Notes of Travel in South-Western Africa New York 1875
  • Andersson, Charles J. The Matchless Copper Mine in 1857: Correspondence of Manager C. J. Andersson, edited by Brigitte Lau. Windhoek: National Archives, SWA/Namibia, 1987. 113p., il., maps. ([Archeia, Nr. 7]) .
  • Andersson, Charles J. Trade and Politics in Central Namibia 1860-1864: Diaries and Correspondence. Windhoek: Archives Services Division, Dept. of National Education, 1989. 338p., il., maps ([Archeia, Nr. 10]) .

Biography: Wallis, J.P.R. Fortune my Foe: The Story of Charles John Andersson, African Explorer 1827-1867 (foreword by the Rt. Hon. General J. C. Smuts), Jonathan Cape, London, 1936

sources: http://galton.org/books/south-west-africa/andersson/index.html; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_John_Andersson

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Africa, Books, Travel Africa, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Explorer 15. Galton

Francis Galton, (1822–1911) was an English polymath, geographer, meteorologist and much else. We are mainly interested here in his 1850 expedition to Namibia. For the rest – and there is a lot of it! – refer to the sources at the bottom. Grandson of Erasmus Darwin and cousin and contemporary of Charles Darwin, Galton is best known as the founder of eugenics, but his interests and subsequent contributions as Victorian traveler and scientist were myriad. The most important and lasting part of Galton’s work was his realisation that science (biology as much as physics) needs mathematics rather than words. Like Darwin, he set out to become a doctor but his curiosity led him further afield—in Galton’s case, to Africa. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 1853, a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1860, and was knighted in 1909.

He attended King’s College in London to study medicine, but became frustrated and discontented with his studies when he was confronted with his first cadaver, much like cousin Charles Darwin, and in 1840, went to study the Mathematical Tripos at Trinity College, Cambridge. After suffering through three years of studying, he obtained a BA and was awarded an MA, but a nervous breakdown terminated his further studies. In February 1844 his father died and left him and his siblings a large inheritance. Now independently wealthy, he became a charming social snob who never had to work a day in his long life to earn a living. He stopped studying and became a gentleman of leisure, though he might have disputed my terminology! He became an athlete, a sportsman (hunter) and then decided to travel.

Galton’s first trip was as a student from Germany through Eastern Europe to Constantinople. He rafted down the Danube and swam naked across the harbour in Trieste in order to avoid the hassle of quarantine procedures. In 1845 he went to Egypt and traveled up the Nile to Khartoum in the Sudan, and from there to Beirut, Damascus and down the Jordan.

In 1850 he joined the Royal Geographical Society, and decided to not just travel, but now to do some serious ‘exploring.’ Over the next two years he planned and mounted an expedition into then little-known South West Africa, now Namibia.

Between April 1850 and January 1852 Galton explored and charted ‘Damaraland’ and ‘Ovampoland’ in South West Africa, financing the expedition himself. In Cape Town he was warned by Sir Harry Smith about the “fierce Boers” that he might encounter in the interior, so he sailed to Walvis Bay and started his explorations from there instead. He was accompanied by Charles Andersson, who would stay on in the region to seek his fortune.  The original intention had been to penetrate from Damaraland to Lake Ngami, which had recently been described by Livingstone and promised an abundance of well-watered territory in the interior.  Galton’s party was ultimately unable to reach the lake, and contented itself with charting the previously unknown interior regions of Ovampoland in northern South-West Africa, where they came close to the Cunene river but were ultimately forced to withdraw short of it. 

– Galton’s travels in red –
– here’s the TLDR instead of the 344 pages of his book! – how very 21st century! –

Once again at leisure back in England, he wrote a book entitled Narrative of an explorer in tropical South Africa (1853). This book was very well written and illustrated with numerous colour plates produced from the sketches made by the artist that accompanied Galton. The book proved to be a huge success. He then went on to pursue his many theories, some genius, some rather nutty. He himself proposed a connection between genius and insanity based on his own experience:

Men who leave their mark on the world are very often those who, being gifted and full of nervous power, are at the same time haunted and driven by a dominant idea, and are therefore within a measurable distance of insanity. – Karl Pearson, ‘The Life, Letters and Labours of Francis Galton,’

This from the introduction to his book on his South West African journeys by anthropologist & historian GT Bettany: Mr. Francis Galton, the third son of Samuel Tertius Galton, a banker in Birmingham, in whose family the love of statistical accuracy was very remarkable; and of Violetta, eldest daughter of the celebrated Dr. Erasmus Darwin, author of ‘Zoonomia’, ‘The Botanic Garden’, etc, was born on February 16th 1822, and educated at King Edward’s School, Birmingham, where he gained no great admiration for ‘the unhappy system of education that has hitherto prevailed, by which boys acquire a very imperfect knowledge of the structure of two dead languages, and none at all of the structure of the living world.’

In 1855 he also wrote a wonderful book on The Art of Travel in which he advised future travelers on things he had learnt from experience and the experience of others.

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Sources: galton.org; Prof Paul Kruger; Biography by Nicholas Wright Gillham; wikipedia;

Africa, Birds & Birding, Books, KwaZuluNatal, Travel Africa, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Explorers 7. Wahlberg

Johan August Wahlberg (1810 – 1856) was another Swedish naturalist and explorer. He traveled in southern Africa between 1838 and 1856, especially in Natal and South West Africa, sending thousands of natural history specimens back to Sweden.

The journals of his travels are generally brief and objective (and I haven’t been able to find them yet! So I know little about him, even though his name is honoured in many species – moths, lizards, birds, plants, etc), and his portrayal of people he met is usually reliable and unprejudiced.

Wahlberg’s elephants – in Namibia? –

Wahlberg is commemorated in Wahlberg’s Eagle, Wahlberg’s epauletted fruit bat and the beautiful little bush squeaker frog Arthroleptis wahlbergi. That’s my pic on top of one of the little squeakers; fully grown, he’s the size of your top finger digit. This one lives in our garden in Westville.

– Wahlberg’s eagle and bat –

‘Sport’ in those days consisted of shooting as much as possible for the tally, the ‘bag.’ These pale chaps ran amuck, trying to score a century, even though cricket was only 240 years old in 1838.

His diary in Natal: 23 August – near Umgeni river: (shot) 1 Ichneumon taenianotus (a mongoose); 1 Boschbock; 1 red-buck (red duiker?); 1 birds.

‘I was so intent on the bucks that the fall of darkness took me (by) surprise. I lost the path and so entangled myself in the thickets that I sure that I should have to pass the night in the woods. I shot six alarm-shots. I was glad to hear them answered by regular salvos from the village. Flayed the boschbock and left the carcase in the wood.’

31 August – near Umkamas river: ‘Continued hunting hippopotamus; no luck. In the evening, accompanied only by one Hottentot Bastard we came sufficiently near to hippopotamus. Two bullets went whistling at the same moment, and found their mark in the head of a young sea-cow. She came to the surface several times, spouting blood high in the air. An adult now appeared; once again our shots sounded as one; it showed the whole of its body above water, dived, a strong furrow appeared in the water, moved rapidly towards the shore, and soon the whole body of the monster was visible above the surface, in form and attitude like a gigantic pig. With incredible swiftness it hurled itself once more into the stream, and rose several times in succession, each time spouting blood. Darkness fell and we were forced to return.’

1st September – ‘We looked in vain for the hippopotamus.’

2nd – ‘Saw numerous buffalo but was unable to get near them. Clouds of locusts darken the sky. We go further afield to a smaller stream.’

3rd – ‘Lying in wait for the buffalo. Hear them approaching at full gallop through the bushes. Climb an acacia. Give the first bull a bullet, which makes him fall back upon his hind-quarters. He gets to his legs again and escapes.’

Well, at least this time Africa got its revenge! Wahlberg was killed by a wounded elephant while exploring along the Thamalakane river about 10 km northwest of Maun just south of the Okavango Delta in today´s Botswana.

– Dear Museum, I have a white rhino skeleton for you. Signed Johan August –
– books based on Wahlberg’s journals and letters –
– he was the first to collect the red-headed weaver, near Thabazimbi –

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wikipedia; van riebeeck society; alchetron.com; aviation demography unit;

Africa, Family & Kids, Motorcars_Automobiles, Nostalgia, Travel, Travel Africa, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Old Man’s SWA Memories

The ole man’s first visit to South West Africa was by train in 1939. The trip cost six pounds return. His father being a railway man, he probably got a good family-rate deal. He would have ‘entrained’ here. where Oupa worked:

Pietermaritzburg station – Oupa’s workplace

. . crossed all of South Africa to Upington, then passed through Keetmanshoop, Rehoboth and Windhoek:

Keetmanshoop station
Rehoboth station
Windhoek station

.. and arrived at his destination station: Okahandja. The last stretch on a narrow gauge line.

Okahandja station

He remembers a lovely wooden dining car, wooden tables, wooden carriage walls. Maybe like this?

His destination was his uncle and aunt’s farms. His aunt Isabel and her husband Theunis van Solms farmed on Engadien or Engadine. They did a lot of hunting.

‘Skiet hom!’

The farms were clustered east of Okahandja – about fifty miles east, he says.

One farm called Nooi Bremen – Was originally owned by a German Count someone – a scion of the Staedtler pencil family and fortune. Or was it the Faber-Castell pencil family? They had more counts.

Daantjie’s farm Uitkyk – original name Onjombojarapati (meant ‘giraffe fell in a hole’)

Sarel’s farm Hartbeesteich – he left his father (or got kicked off the farm?) when he couldn’t stand the abuse any longer. Was sent away with nothing, but rounded up 600 cattle and drove them off to a widow’s farm near the village of Hochveld, 70 miles ENE of Okahandja, where he farmed for her and with her. When she died he bought the farm. Hartbeesteich. ‘teich’ = German for pan.

Japie’s farm was a dry farm; he drilled eighteen holes but never struck water. Dad can’t remember ithe name of the farm.

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