Hidden Histories of Exploration

The history of exploration has often invited celebration; after all, to travel into the unknown is easier said than done. But what, and whom, shall we celebrate?

My companion’s gun-carrier, Seedy Mubarak Bombay, a Negro from Uhiao, has twice been sketched in Blackwood; he also requires no further celebrity.

 

…speaking a little broken Hindustani… he began by escorting us to Fuga as head gun-bearer. On our march to the lakes he was the confident servant and interpreter of my companion, he being the only man with whom the latter could converse, and in the second expedition of Capt. Speke and Grant [1860-63] he was promoted to Command the Waswahili.

 

Richard Burton about Sidi Mubarak Bombay, 1859

'The main stream came up to Susi's mouth'.  Illustration from Missionary travels and researches in South Africa (London: John Murray 1857) Author: David Livingstone

'The main stream came up to Susi's mouth'. Illustration from Missionary travels and researches in South Africa (London: John Murray 1857) Author: David Livingstone

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For eight long hazardous years he was the faithful servant of his liberator, and, when the spirit fled from that iron frame at last, it was Chumah, the liberated slave boy from the Shire Highlands, that led from Lobisa to Zanzibar those men who bore their dead master’s body, and to whom we are so much in debted for the safety of the Doctor’s journals and writings.

Excerpt from Sir Henry Bartle Frere’s address to the Royal Geographical Society concerning James Chuma