John Hanning Speke
He was officer of the British Army in India and accomplished three voyages of exploration in Africa.
YouthBorn in Bideford in the County from Devon in 1827, Speke integrates the British army in India, at the 17 years age. It is useful then in the Punjab, then traverses the the Himalayas and travels to the Tibet. In April 1855, it joint with the forwarding of Sir Richard Francis Burton which tries to explore Somalia. The voyage will be however of short duration. Wounded at the time of an attack, Speke is repatriated. It goes then voluntary for the Crimea and orders a Turkish regiment during the war.
Sources of the NileAt the end of the XIXe century, the explorers clash to find the sources of the the Nile. These geographical enigmas overheat imaginations, as well on the scientific level as commercial. At that time, the Nile is navigable until Gondokoro (in the north of the Uganda). Beyond, the area can be visited only with foot, while crossing vast areas where the traffickers of slaves and other gangsters reign as Masters. The idea is thus to see the problem under another angle, that is to say to bore the mystery since the central Africa. It is in this context that in December 1856, Burton réinvite Speke to be taken part in its next forwarding. After a long preparation, Richard Francis Burton and John Speke unload with Zanzibar in 1857. They explore the East Africa for 6 months and discover the Lac Tanganyika in February 1858. But the voyage will have been extremely difficult. Burton is partially paralyzed. Speke is temporarily blind. The two men are also in conflict. A savage hatred which will not leave them any more starts to be born. Their log books will testify some.
The discovery of Lake VictoriaBurton intends to explore the northern point of Tanganyika, but Speke does not see the utility of it; the altitude of the lake is too low so that its water is thrown in the sea. Burton being confined to bed, Speke benefits to only leave and discovers from it another lake which it names Victoria, in the honor of the queen. Persuaded wrongly to have found the source of the Nile, it runs to inform of it Burton which remains more than skeptic. That's no problem, Speke is convinced and precipitately returns to England to announce its discovery. Burton returns in its turn, furious. A controversy begins.
The great debate
The Royal Geographical Society , which financed forwarding, supports Speke. A new forwarding is organized in 1860 to put a term at the polemic. The captain James Augustus Grant accompanies Speke.
They reach Kazeh the January 24th 1861. But forwarding knows many adventures. Speke is made prisoner by the king of a local tribe and will be slackened only well later. This absence of news worries London. Samuel Baker, an explorer who holds more fortunate adventurer, is sent on mission. If this one will meet Speke only in 1863 in Gondokoro, it will on however the occasion to leave its print in the history, by discovering the Lac Albert.
Speke inlassablement continues its search through Africa. And the July 24th 1862, it reaches finally the the Nile, then the Chutes of Rippon where the river leaves the Victoria Nyanza. It telegraphs in London the fruit of its discovery. The new one creates sensation. The return of Speke is triumphal. It publishes the Journal at once off the Discovery off the Source off the Nile (1863).
The detractors of Speke, carried out by Burton, are not long however in sowing the disorder. A public debate is required. Unfortunately, Speke is killed at the time of an accident of hunting, close to Bath, just before the event does not take place. Some of its adversaries will claim that the explorer, not having courage to defend his thesis, would have put an end to his days.
An obelisk with its memory is set up in the gardens of Kensington, with London.
- Gazelle of Speke.
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