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Travels in the Interior of Africa - Volume 1

Mungo Park

Book Overview: 

Mungo Park, a Scottish surgeon and explorer, was sent out by the 'Association for Promoting the Discovery of the Interior of Africa' after Major Houghton failed to return, to discover the if the River Niger was a tributary of either the river Senegal or Gambia in South Africa. This is the story of his first trip. The journey had many challenges, such as language, religions, imprisonment and robbery. Most of the trip he had nothing but his tattered clothes, a horse, a pocket compass and his hat where he kept his notes. After first following the Gambia River, he finally was the first European to reached the Niger River at Ségou. He continued along the Niger another 80 miles to Silla, where he had to turn around as he had no way of continuing without procuring more supplies. He then returned to England by boat, via America.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .As he was known to Dr. Laidley, the Doctor recommended him to me, and I hired him as my interpreter, at the rate of ten bars monthly to be paid to himself, and five bars a month to be paid to his wife during his absence.  Dr. Laidley furthermore provided me with a negro boy of his own, named Demba, a sprightly youth, who, besides Mandingo, spoke the language of the Serawoollies, an inland people (of whom mention will hereafter be made) residing on the banks of the Senegal; and to induce him to behave well, the Doctor promised him his freedom on his return, in case I should report favourably of his fidelity and services.  I was furnished with a horse for myself (a small but very hardy and spirited beast, which cost me to the value of £7 10s), and two asses for my interpreter and servant.  My baggage was light, consisting chiefly of provisions for two days; a small assortment of beads, amber, and tobacco, for the purchase of a fresh supply as I proceede. . . Read More

Community Reviews

An enlightening study of pre-colonial Western African culture, and an impressive adventure besides. Fires my wanderlust. As it can be read in a sitting or two, there's no reason to pass it up. Vol. 2 is coming up next.

Fascinating account, but this volume covers only the outward part of Mungo Park's journey to the Niger. Fuller comments to follow once I have completed Volume 2.