When I published my recent book, The Search for Livingstone, I wanted to write something,that wasn’t about the book, but a little of African exploration and how I got there.
For the joy of it, I was doing research on African Exploration. Then I found the ultimate book on the psychological and sociological aspects of African Exploration. I’ve read Professor Frank McLynn‘s books before this. When I saw he wrote Hearts of Darkness I snapped it up immediately.
I was hooked. It was one of the best books I ever read and it is dogeared. It is where I got the basic ideas for the book.
OK why was European exploration of Africa so slow? Getting there was rather difficult. The rivers were not like rivers in Europe, where you could build great ports. The people looked poor and unlike Columbus getting gold, it didn’t seem worth the bother. The Portuguese sailed around the Cape of Good Hope, and set up places to stop and provide provisions. That is how the Dutch East India Company founded Cape Colony, which grew to be South Africa. Cape Colony was never meant to be more than a refueling station, some place for supplies for the ships going from Holland to Indonesia. (I’ll cover Michael Charton’s version of South African History in another post).
The biggest bar to Africa? Disease. Or to quote Richard Pryor “Germs that would scare the s**t out of penicillin.” Disease and animals.
Expeditions were dependent on human porters, because the Tsetse Fly barred pack animals in the interior to carry goods. It also meant African farmers couldn’t use animals to pull plows, thus making farming more difficult.
Reading the book, I had the suspicion the British especially, ended up in much of Africa by accident. The missionaries, such as Dr. Livingstone, went in first. Then you had Burton and Speke, looking for the sources of the Nile, a quest since Roman times.
Originally, I was going to write a fictionalized version about Henry Morton Stanley. He was not the nicest guy in the world, so I was convinced to make it a race. I had fun with it and thank Professor McLynn’s book for giving me the ideas.
- British History “EMPIRE” (annasmv.wordpress.com)
- 3.19.13 … David Livingstone – ‘Africa’s first freedom fighter’ … (teaguenc.wordpress.com)