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H M Stanley’s last African adventure was to find the endangered eccentric ruler, Emin Pasha

Posted in Adventure, Africa, Exploration, Famous news stories, Historical articles, History on Friday, 29 November 2013

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This edited article about exploration first appeared in Look and Learn issue number 470 published on 16 January 1971.

Emin Pasha and Mr Stanley, picture, image, illustration

Meeting of Emin Pasha and Mr Stanley at Kavalli, 29 April 1888

“Doctor Livingstone, I presume.”

This is perhaps the most famous greeting ever spoken in the history of the world. The occasion was the famous meeting at Ujiji in Central Africa, between the Scottish missionary, David Livingstone and the Welsh-born American newspaperman, Henry Morton Stanley.

Stanley’s expedition, sponsored by The New York Herald, brought much-needed supplies to the marooned missionary. Livingstone continued his work in Africa until he died, 18 months later. The newspaperman returned to Europe with his news.

He received official gratitude and honour for the success of his mission but scorn and disbelief from the public. The truth of the matter was that British patriotic feelings had been hurt by the fact that an American, and a newspaperman at that, had found the famous British missionary.

It is this journey, his first in Central Africa, upon which rests Stanley’s fame. Yet this was merely an incident in his varied and exciting life. Prior to his African adventures, he had been a cabin-boy, served on both sides in the American Civil War, joined the United States Navy, was shipwrecked off Spain, saw the Indian Wars and made a fruitless attempt to explore Asia. As a newspaper reporter, his first scoop was a report on a war in Abyssinia, followed by a report on the building of the Suez Canal, a rebellion in Crete, revolution in Spain and a dozen other events around the world.

The year after Livingstone’s death, Stanley was commissioned by The New York Herald and The Daily Telegraph to make a journey of exploration across Africa and to solve the mystery of the Lualaba River that had so baffled the Scottish missionary. Stanley set out from Zanzibar on the east coast of the dark continent and travelled inland. He circled Lake Victoria by boat, was greeted by the immensely powerful Kabaka of Uganda, Mutesa I (the grandfather of the late King “Freddie”) and, after immense hardships, travelled the full length of the Lualaba and discovered it to be the mighty river that flowed out into the Atlantic Ocean as the Congo.

Yet again, little notice was taken of his great achievement except by King Leopold of the Belgians. The king had a grand idea to set up the Congo as a free trading state, open to all nations. He chose Stanley to take a great expedition to set up camps, depots and bases along the mighty Congo river, to build roads and jetties for river steamers that were to ply its length. It was Stanley, now an explorer and nation-builder, with his newspaper days far behind him, who laid the foundations for that vast region of Africa to emerge from cannibalism to become at first a prosperous Belgian colony and then, after a terrible relapse into savagery and bloodshed, one of the largest and potentially wealthiest of African nations.

Stanley was to cross the dark continent once more. This was in the course of a disastrous adventure to rescue Emin Pasha, a strange, picturesque character, who ruled a large region of the Southern Sudan, from a complicated political situation.

Ironically, this costly exploit, during which he travelled from the Congo to Zanzibar, won him acclaim in London and Europe.

After this it was a quiet but busy life for Stanley. In 1895 he was elected Member of Parliament for North Lambeth and died of a stroke in 1904 at the age of 62.

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