In 1797, the fledgling British Museum occupied Montagu House, a lordly home surrounded by wooded gardens in what is now central London. Early on Christmas Day that year, James Dickson was alone in the gardens. Dickson, a Scottish seedsman, was so absorbed by his task that he did not hear anyone enter the side gate. So when he looked up and saw a man coming towards him through the gloom, he believed he was seeing the ghost of a man who was supposed to be deep in the heart of Africa. It was his brother-in-law, Mungo Park.
It was through Dickson that Park had met Sir Joseph Banks, a man with a unique position in British society. One of the wealthiest people in the country, and one of the best connected too, Banks had decided early in his life not to become involved directly in politics. Instead he devoted his talent and his considerable means to the pursuit of scientific interests. He had, for instance, paid a small fortune for the privilege of being the botanist to accompany Captain James Cook on his second voyage around the world. In 1771, Banks returned from the South Seas to a hero’s welcome in London – at the time he was as famous as Cook. Seven years later, he was elected president of the country’s leading scientific organisation, the Royal Society. Settled in London, Banks now enjoyed the friendship of King George III, who gave him care of the royal gardens at Kew. Banks also became adviser on scientific matters to His Majesty’s government, a one-man Department of Science. He was also an active member of London’s intellectual and social life, a frequenter of the dinners of a string of clubs and societies including the Royal Society Club, the Society of Dilettanti, the Society of Arts and a little-known group called the Saturday’s Club.
Nothing is known of the Saturday’s Club until nine of its dozen members met for dinner at the St. Alban’s Tavern on 9 June 1788 – not a Saturday, note, but a Monday – and created the Association for the Promotion of the Discovery of the Interior Parts of Africa, the African Association for short. Banks and his friends Lord Rawdon (later Marquis of Hastings and Governor-General of India), the anti-slavery MP Henry Beaufoy and the Scottish improver Sir John Sinclair, founder of the Board of Agriculture, were among the members. The resolution they voted on that day stressed the geographical nature of their project:
‘ That as no species of information is more ardently desired, or more generally useful, than that which improves the science of Geography; and as the vast continent of Africa, notwithstanding the efforts of the ancients, and the wishes of the moderns, is still in a great measure unexplored, the members of this Club do form themselves into an Association for promoting the discovery of the inland parts of that quarter of the world.’
Which part of ‘that quarter of the world’ would they investigate first The choice soon became obvious - since antiquity, Africa was known to have two extraordinary rivers, the Nile and the Niger. On some maps these two rivers were shown to be connected, the Niger running across the continent and joining the Nile, which then ran due north to
the Mediterranean. Somewhere along the Niger, they knew, there was a great trading city called Timbuktu where gold was in such abundance that even the slaves were adorned with it.
Within two weeks of the Saturday’s Club dinner, Banks and his friends had agreed upon a plan to bisect the northern half of the continent in search of the Niger. They would send one explorer south from Tripoli in Libya and another west from the Red Sea coast of Sudan. In so doing, they were to usher in the great age of overland exploration.
Within two weeks, they had also engaged two travellers. John Ledyard was an American who had sailed on Cook’s last voyage and was intent on becoming the first person to circumnavigate the world by land. He was sent to make the east-west crossing ‘ as nearly as possible in the direction of the Niger’, as it was put in his instructions, ‘ with which River, and with the Towns and Countries on its borders, he shall endeavour to make himself acquainted’. Unfortunately he died in Cairo before he could even begin his journey. The other traveller was Simon Lucas, King George III’s Oriental Interpreter, who volunteered to sail to Tripoli. In one way, Lucas seemed an ideal candidate for the job. As a youth, he had been captured by pirates and sold as a slave to the emperor of Morocco, so he knew the language and mentality of the region. But he was no adventurer and lacked the temperament to travel into Africa; before he had even left the Mediterranean coast for the interior, he decided to return to London.
While their first travellers were out in the field, Banks and his colleagues on the committee of the African Association were busy collecting information on the interior from other sources, including dispatches from British consuls along the North African coast. They also tried to make contact with Moorish traders passing through London. From two of these men – Ben Ali and Shabeni – they learned a great deal about travelling conditions in the interior. Ben Ali, who had already been to Timbuktu, went further than mere words and offered to
take one of the Association’s travellers into the heart of Africa. But his terms were too steep and his behaviour too bizarre; before an agreement could be reached, Ben Ali had disappeared.
The Association’s plans were now changed to reflect this newly-acquired knowledge: the Committee decided to approach the interior from the Gambia River. This time, they chose an Irishman, Major Daniel Houghton. Houghton had travelled in Morocco and spent several years serving at the fort on Ile de Gorée, just off the Senegalese coast (near present-day Dakar), so was well-seasoned. In October 1790, he sailed for the Gambia River, made contact with Dr. Laidley, a British slave trader operating along the river, enjoyed the hospitality of the King of Wuli – who assured him he could walk to Timbuktu ‘ with only a stick in my
hand’ – and then set off for the interior. On 1 September 1791, he sent Laidley the following note: ‘ Major Houghton’s compliments to Dr. Laidley, is in good health on his way to Tombuctoo, robbed of all his goods by Fenda Bucar’s son.’ After that, silence. It was not until the African Association’s annual meeting of 1794, held at the Thatched House Tavern in Pall Mall, that the Secretary, Henry Beaufoy, announced the Committee’s belief that Houghton had been murdered. Beaufoy also announced that an application had been ‘ received from Mr Mungo Park to engage in the service of the Association as a Geographical Missionary’.
Park had enjoyed Sir Joseph Banks’ patronage for some years before he offered his services to the Association. Through Banks, Park had been employed as assistant surgeon on an East India Company ship sailing for Bencoolen in Sumatra and had had his paper Eight small fishes from the coast of Sumatra read before the fledgling Linnaean Society (another of Banks’ endeavours). In May 1794 Park had written to his brother that ‘ I have… got Sir Joseph’s word that if I wish to travel he will apply to the African Association.’ As we know, he did wish to travel - Banks made the arrangements and Park had the pleasure of seeing the Niger, as he described it,
‘glittering to the morning sun, as broad as
Park returned to Britain in triumph. He was the first Association traveller to reach the interior and live to tell the tale and, what’s more, he had settled one of the puzzles of African geography. He might not know where the Niger terminated, but he could confirm that it flowed to the east.
Banks lost no time in spreading the news of Park’s and the Association’s success. The timing was fortuitous – the war against the French was going badly, Napoleon had defeated the Austrians, the Royal Navy was close to mutiny over bad conditions and, even worse, poor leadership. Things were so bad that the French had even managed to make a landing in Wales the previous year. Park’s success was a welcome diversion and the press was happy to play it up: several newspapers ran stories in the weeks after his return. The Times went so far as to claim that Park had made contact with a great city, twice the size of London, whose people were keen to trade with Britain.
London’s beau monde was no less welcoming to the celebrity traveller. Banks and Earl Spencer, a member of the Association and brother of the notorious socialite Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, guaranteed Park’s entry into society, and for a while the 26-yearold Scottish crofter’s son found himself the centre of attention in London’s grand houses. Such was his reputation that the Duchess of Devonshire went as far as to glorify events of the night following his arrival on the Niger in a song, which was put to music by the Italian composer G.G. Ferrari and illustrated with an engraving by the Duchess’s companion (and successor) Lady Elizabeth Foster.
When Sir Joseph Banks had come home from his voyage round the world he was only too happy to perform in London’s salons and, no doubt, to keep his male friends entertained over the port with racier stories of his sexual exploits. But Park did not have the temperament for this sort of society.
He had grown up on the Scottish Borders – dour, demanding country – and had then trained as a doctor in Edinburgh. He had first travelled to London at the invitation of his brotherin-law Dickson, who had then brought him to the attention of Sir Joseph Banks. Banks had soon recognised Park’s strength, resourcefulness, intelligence and other qualities – Henry Beaufoy, the Association’s Secretary, called him ‘ a young man of no mean talents’. To have survived the many social occasions held at Banks’ Soho Square house, Park must have had the necessary social accomplishments. But on his return from Africa, he soon began to tire of his celebrity. The backlash was inevitable. Where the Duchess of Devonshire had lavished attention on him, her friend Lady Holland now described him as having ‘ neither fancy or genius, and if he does fib it is dully.’
The African Association was due to hold its annual meeting of subscribers
in May, as usual, and Banks wanted an account of Park’s travels to be ready by then, along with a new map of the area. The map was to be drawn by Major James Rennell, a former East India Company Surveyor-General and now the African Association’s honorary geographer. Rennell had a daunting task, for although Park had been sent out with some 65-worth of scientific equipment, including a pocket sextant, a magnetic compass and a thermometer from the master-maker Edward Troughton, he was soon robbed of everything but the compass. From then on, his observations became less specific, less scientific. On several occasions he almost lost whatever notes he had been able to make, which he carried tucked inside his hat. Just before reaching safety on his way out of the interior, stripped of what little he possessed, he had had his hat returned to him presumably because his assailants believed the papers were some sort of magic juju.
The task of helping Park write up his notes fell to the Association’s new Secretary, Bryan Edwards. This was to prove a controversial choice. There was no doubting Edwards’ literary talents – his History of the British West Indies was highly praised when it appeared in 1794 and earned him a Fellowship at the Royal Society. By the time of Park’s return, Edwards was an MP and the owner of a bank in Southampton. But he was also the proprietor of large Jamaican estates that relied on slave labour. New laws had made it illegal to hold people in slavery within Britain in the late 1780s, but there was no legislation against slavery or the slave trade elsewhere in the world. There was, however, a growing and increasingly vocal opposition to the trade in Britain (legislation against the slave trade was finally passed by the British Parliament in 1807). Members of the African Association were at the forefront of the campaign against the trade, most obviously the leading anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce. But it was Bryan Edwards, the Association’s pro-slavery Secretary, who was given the task of encouraging Park in his literary endeavours and of preparing his manuscript for the printers, though neither man seemed to enjoy the task at first.
Edwards’ letters to Banks during this time are full of complaints at Park’s lack of talent and application, ‘the occurrences which he relates are so unimportant, that it requires some skill in composition and arrangement.’ It wasn’t until November 1798 that Park hit his stride and Edwards began to relax, describing Park’s account of his captivity in Ludamar as ‘ extremely well done’. By the end of January, the conversion was complete and Edwards was full of praise: ‘ Park goes on triumphantly,’ he wrote to Banks. ‘ He improves in his style so much by practice that his journal now requires but little correction; and some parts, which he has lately sent me, are equal to anything in the English Language.’
Park’s audience seemed to share Edwards’ opinion. Travels into the Interior of Africa was published in April 1799. The entire first run of around 1500 copies sold in a week and two further editions sold out that first year. The critics liked it too, with the Gentleman’s Magazine setting the tone by claiming that ‘ Few books of Voyages and Travels have been more
favourably received.’ Once the book was launched, Park went north. With both his reputation and his finances enhanced he now decided it was time to ensure his posterity in another way. In Scotland he married and settled down to life in the country. The only cloud on his horizon was his inability to find work as a surgeon.
Without any appropriate work, once the scars from his African journey had healed, the fevers had eased, the stories been told and retold, Park began to long for new adventures. In July of 1800 he heard that British forces had recaptured the Ile de Gorée, off the Senegalese coast, and wrote to Banks pointing out its possible significance in developing trade with the African interior.
At the end of 1801, Park, his wife and child made the short move to Peebles to take up a medical practice. It seems he was as energetic as a local doctor as he had been as a traveller. The practice provided only a meagre living, but there were the consolations of home, the countryside and of some inspired company, including that of the novelist Sir Walter Scott. But Park was restless, could not forget Africa and, around this time, told Scott he ‘ would rather brave Africa and all its horrors than wear out his life in long and toilsome rides over cold and lonely heaths and gloomy hills.’ Alongside the desire to get back to Africa, there was also a motive - he had guessed the Niger’s source and settled the question of its direction, but the matter of its termination and of Timbuktu had still to be resolved. He felt that he should be the one to answer the outstanding questions about the Niger. In October 1803 a letter arrived summoning him to the Colonial Office in London.
The plan proposed by Lord Hobart of the Colonial Office was not what Park had been expecting. Instead of being sent on a geographical mission to search for the end of the Niger, he was asked to conduct negotiations on trade treaties with the various rulers and also to build a string of forts between the Gambia and Niger rivers. To make all this possible, he was to be accompanied by a gunboat and a small force of British redcoats.
A change in administration in London put the plan on hold – it took most of 1804 for the new government of Prime
Park returned to Britain in triumph. He was the first Association traveller to reach the interior and live to tell the tale and, what’s more, he had settled one of the puzzles of African geography. He might not know where the Niger terminated, but he could confirm that it flowed to the east
Minister Pitt to establish itself. During this time, Park returned to Scotland. With him travelled a Moor by the name of Sidi Omback Boubi, a governmentsponsored Arabic tutor, who must have caused quite a stir in Scotland by abstaining from drinking alcohol and by his habit of slaughtering his own food. By the autumn of 1804, the new Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, Lord Camden, had had time to consider the project. Camden was unenthusiastic about the military objectives. Instead, he wanted ‘ a Journey of Enquiry without any military attendance upon it’, paid for by the Government, but organised by the African Association.
Major Rennell, the Association’s geographer, had studied the information brought back by Park, sent by Houghton and gleaned from the Moors in London and concluded that ‘ it can scarcely be doubted that the Joliba or Niger terminates in lakes in the eastern quarter of Africa.’ Park arrived in London insisting that the Niger would be found to flow into the Congo and from there into the Atlantic. To prove it, he suggested taking 30 soldiers and six carpenters, crossing from the Gambia to the Niger, building boats and sailing to the end of the river. Rennell was convinced Park would end up stranded in the middle of nowhere. Banks agreed with Rennell that it was ‘ one of the most hazardous [expeditions] a man can undertake’, fraught with ‘ the most frightful hazards’, but still believed Park should go. On 18 December, 1804, in the comfort of the Ministry in London, Banks and Lord Camden agreed a timetable. If Park left England in January, he would need two months to reach the uppermost navigable part of the Gambia, two months to cross to the Niger and two months to build his boats. Timing was crucial: they needed to reach the Niger before the rains started, before malaria became a problem, paths were made slippery and rivers swollen.
Neither Banks nor Park had counted on the slow grinding of governmental bureaucracy. It took a month for Park’s instructions to be written out, even though they were more or less copied from his original proposal. With a captain’s commission, a credit of 5000, a guarantee of a settlement of 4000 for his wife in the event of his death, Park sailed out of Portsmouth on 31 January, accompanied by his brother-in-law, Alexander Anderson, and a Selkirk artist, George Scott. Among his papers was a letter from Lord Camden reminding him that ‘ His Majesty has selected you to discover and ascertain whether any, and what commercial intercourse can be opened, with the interior’.
By March they were on Cape Verde Island and by the beginning of April, Park was able to write to his wife, Ailie, from Ile de Gor e assuring her that everything was now ready. There had been no problem raising volunteers. On the contrary: ‘ Almost every soldier in the garrison volunteered to go with me.’ Park had chosen only the best. ‘ So lightly do the people here think of the danger attending the undertaking, that I have been under the necessity of refusing several military and naval officers who volunteered to accompany me.’ He then ended, ‘The hopes of spending the remainder of my life with my wife and children will make everything seem easy; and you may be sure I will not rashly risk my life, when I know that your happiness, and the welfare of my young ones, depend so much upon it.’
Park and his party of 43 Europeans did not reach Pisania, at the end of the navigable stretch of the Gambia River, until the last days of April, when, according to Banks’ timetable, they should already have been building boats
on the Niger. May is one of the hottest months in West Africa, with the weather becoming increasingly oppressive until the rains break in June. Park didn’t mention this in his letters home, but he was well aware of the problem, as the first entry in his journal shows. Nor could he have failed to remember what he had written of Karfa Taura, the slave trader who had saved him on his journey from the Niger back to the coast: ‘ when a caravan of natives could not travel through the country, it was idle for a single white man to attempt it.’
He knew the difficulties ahead and could have called a halt and sat out the heat and the rains on the Gambian coast or at the fort on Gorée. But there had been enough delays. He was Mungo Park, the celebrity traveller who had gone into the interior and lived to tell the tale. And this time he was not alone, but travelling with a caravan of white men.
Contrary to his confident assertion in that last journal entry that ‘ we sail tomorrow morning, or evening’, Park
remained at Sansanding. The following day, 17 November 1805, he wrote to Lord Camden in London with the sad news ‘that of 44 Europeans, who left the Gambia iver in perfect health, five only are at present alive; namely, three soldiers, (one deranged in his mind,) ieutenant Martyn, and myself.’ Park knew just how grim this report would appear and so was quick to point out that although so many had died, they had been killed by the climate, not by hostile Africans. The plan to open a trade route from the Gambia to Niger rivers was still viable – but not in the rainy season. And putting a positive spin on his situation, he wrote that he ‘ was far from desponding…I shall set sail to the east with the fixed resolution to discover the termination of the Niger or perish in the attempt.’
Two days later, on 19 November, he wrote another letter to his wife, announcing the death of her brother, Alexander Anderson. ‘ I am afraid that, impressed with a woman’s fears, and the anxieties of a wife, you may be led to consider my situation as a great deal worse than it really is. It is true my dear friends Mr Anderson and George Scott, have both bid adieu to the things of this world; and the greater part of the soldiers have died on the march during the rainy season; but you may believe me, I am in good health. The rains are completely over, and the healthy season has commenced, so that there is no danger of sickness; and I have still a sufficient force to protect me from any insult in sailing down the river to the sea.’
‘We have already embarked all our things, and shall sail the moment I have finished this letter. I do not intend to stop or land anywhere, till we reach the coast; which I suppose will be some time in the end of January. We shall then embark in the first vessel for England. If we have to go round by the West Indies, the voyage will occupy three months longer; so that we expect to be in England on the first of May. The reason of our delay since we left the coast was the rainy season, which came on us during the journey; and almost all the soldiers became affected with the fever.’
‘I think it not unlikely but I shall be in England before you receive this. You may be sure that I feel happy at turning my face towards home. We this morning have done with all intercourse with the natives; and the sails are now hoisting for our departure for the coast.’
What were his chances of success The weather was no longer a problem – they were now in the travelling season. He was boarding ship with sacks of cowrie
There were reports from a Moor who knew for a fact that Park had been attacked by Tuaregs. In 1810, a British trader in Morocco told Banks he had news that Park’s party had been seen on the Niger in the summer of 1808. There were many other (rumours|. But how to find out if they were true?
shells, the local currency, plenty of arms, goods to trade for necessities and a store of provisions. With him was Lieutenant Martyn, three soldiers, three slaves and a guide. Isaaco, the man who had guided him from the start, was now returning to the Gambia River – and taking Park’s letters and journal with him – but another guide, Amadi Fatouma, was going with him for the next stage of the journey.
Park seems to have had little help from Lieutenant Martyn and the three surviving soldiers. Martyn’s state of mind can be gauged from a letter he wrote home just before leaving Sansanding. ‘ Thunder, Death and Lightening:- the Devil to pay,’ he began, listing the deaths along the way and then finding consolation in the ‘ Excellent living since we came here, the Beef and Mutton as good as was ever eat. Whitbreads [sic] Beer is nothing to what we get here…my head is a little sore this morning – was up late last night drinking Ale in company with a Moor who has been at Gibraltar and speaks English got a little tipsy finished the scene by giving the Moor a damned good thrashing.’
On 18 November, Park received a message from Mansong, the King of nearby Segu who had offered him protection for the first stage of his journey, urging him to leave as soon as possible, before word of the infidels spread along the river. So with the four Britons and four Africans, Park boarded the Joliba and set sail on a journey that could only have two possible endings: either he would find the end of the Niger and return home in glory, or he would die.
Park had written to his wife that ‘ we can expect to be in England on the first of May’, but there was neither sight nor word of him that spring. In London, where he remained a celebrity, expectation ran high. Then on 10 July 1806, the following notice appeared in The Times: ‘ a letter, it is said, has been received from the River Gambia, stating, that Mr. MUNGO PARKE [sic], the traveller, and his retinue (two or three excepted) have been murdered by the natives of the interior of that country. This story is stated to have been verified by the arrival of the persons who escaped the massacre, at Widah.’
In September, the paper ran another report, ‘ that Mr. Park and the few of his companions who remained, had been murdered by order of the King of Segu, who considered them as spies.’ A couple of weeks later, Banks received word via one of his Moroccan contacts that ‘ Mr Park arrived at Timbuctoo in March last’. The report, translated from the Arabic, read:
‘ a few days since a boat came to this place [the port of Timbuktu] having Christians on board: they hoisted a white flag, and remained at anchor in the Nile from the rising till the setting sun: no one went to them, nor did they come (or communicate) with any one: they did not appear (to be) hostile, but on the contrary, (they seemed) peaceably inclined, and inoffensive. I think they wished to trade with us, but the meaning of the flag was not understood here, and they returned towards Jennie in the morning, since which we have nor seen nothing of them, nor of their boat.’ Banks confessed to another friend that he had ‘ doubts whether the whole performance is not a Fable.’ In December another report leaked out of Africa, this time from a Moor who knew for a fact that Park had been attacked by Tuaregs. In 1810, a British trader in Morocco told Banks he had news that Park’s party had been seen on the Niger in the summer of 1808. There were many other rumours. But how to find out if they were true The previous year, 1809, the British had taken over the long-held French post on the Senegal River. There then followed a series of happy coincidences, which helped establish the events following Park’s departure from Sansanding. The new British Governor of the Senegal heard that Isaaco, the guide Park had sent back to the Gambia River, had been seen in the area. Isaaco was approached and agreed to travel to the Niger to see what news he could find of Park. Isaaco reached Sansanding in October 1810, where he had the good fortune to meet Amadi Fatouma, who had replaced him as Park’s guide. ‘ They are all dead,’ Amadi cried when he saw Isaaco, ‘ they are lost forever.’
Isaaco arrived back in Senegal in September 1811 and with him he carried Amadi Fatouma’s account of events of Park’s final demise:
Next day ( aturday) Mr Park departed, and I slept in the village ( aour). Next morning, I went to the king to pay my respects to him; on entering the house I found two men who came on horseback;
‘The mode of supporting foreigners,’ he wrote from first-hand experience, ‘does great honour to their humanity.’ Mungo Park
they were sent by the chief of Yaour. They said to the king, “We are sent by the chief of Yaour to let you know that the white men went away, without giving you or him (the chief ) anything; they have a great many things with them, and we have received nothing from them; and this Amadou Fatouma now before you is a bad man, and has likewise made a fool of you both.” The king immediately ordered me to be put in irons; which was accordingly done, and everything I had taken from me, some were for killing me, and some for preserving my life. The next morning early the king sent an army to a village called Boussa near the river side. There is before this village a rock across the whole breadth of the river. One part of the rocks is very high; there is a large opening in that rock in the form of a door, which is the only passage for the water to pass through; the tide current is here very strong. The army went and took possession of the top of this opening.’
‘Mr Park came there after the army had posted itself; he nevertheless attempted to pass. The people began to attack him, throwing lances, pikes, arrows, and stones. Mr Park defended himself for a long time; two of his slaves at the stern of the canoe were killed; they threw everything they had in the canoe into the river, and kept firing; but being overpowered by numbers and fatigue, and unable to keep up the canoe against the current, and no probability of escaping, Mr Park took hold of one of the white men, and jumped into the water; Martyn did the same, and they were drowned in the stream in attempting to escape. The only slave remaining in the boat, seeing the natives persist in throwing weapons at the canoe without ceasing, stood up and said to them, “Stop throwing now, you see nothing in the canoe, and nobody but myself, therefore cease. Take me and the canoes, but don’t kill me.” They took possession of the canoe and the man, and carried them to the king.’
In 1826, 20 years after Park’s death, the British explorers Hugh Clapperton and Richard Lander passed by Bussa and had Amadi’s story confirmed to them by several people, including a man who claimed to have been an eyewitness. This man insisted that the travellers were killed not by the King of Yauri but on the orders of the King of Bussa, who heard of the arrival of an unfamiliar boat containing lighter-skinned and heavilyarmed people, and assumed that Park and his companions were Fulani raiders.
As well as confirmation of Park’s death, Clapperton was also hoping to retrieve some of Park’s belongings, in particular his last journal. In this he was disappointed, for the King of Yauri had given it to a trader who was subsequently killed by Fulani raiders. Lander returned to the Niger several years later and in Bussa was given Park’s embroidered damask robe and while in Yauri he bought the double-barrelled gun Park had given to the king. Both of these were lost in his subsequent journey, during which he settled the question of the course of the Niger.
One thing Lander saw but could not obtain was a printed book with Park’s name in it. But in 1858, a British army officer saw this same ‘ volume of logarithms, with Mungo Park’s name, and autobiographic notes and memoranda’ and was able to trade it for his pocket knife. It was then given to the Royal Geographical Society in London, where it remains, the last known relic of one of the great travellers in Africa, and one who considered he was travelling among civilised people. ‘ The mode of supporting foreigners,’ he wrote from first-hand experience, ‘ does great honour to their humanity.’
Previous pages: Portrait of Mungo Park & mud brick mosque in Timbuktu, (Image: Michele Alfieri)
Left: Map of Park’s travels in Africa
Above: View of Timbuktu, Heinrich Barth 1858
Overleaf: Traditional passenger boat on the Niger River (Image: Michel Piccaya)
Left: The Mungo Park monument in Selkirk, Scotland (Image by Andrew Currie, CC BY-SA 3.0)