PHASE TWO - From Juba across South Sudan into Uganda, along the River Nile, through
Murchison National Park & the Eastern Shoreline of Lake Albert


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Sir Samuel White Baker

Sir Samuel White Baker, KCB, FRS, FRGS (8 June 1821 – 30 December 1893) was a British explorer, officer, naturalist, big game hunter, engineer, writer and abolitionist. He also held the titles of Pasha and Major-General in the Ottoman Empire and Egypt. He served as the Governor-General of the Equatorial Nile Basin (today's South Sudan and Northern Uganda) between Apr. 1869 - Aug. 1873, which he established as the Province of Equatoria. He is mostly remembered as the discoverer of Lake Albert, as an explorer of the Nile and interior of central Africa, and for his exploits as a big game hunter in Asia, Africa, Europe and North America. Baker wrote a considerable number of books and published articles. He was a friend of King Edward VII, who as Prince of Wales, visited Baker with Queen Alexandra in Egypt. Other friendships were with explorers Henry Morton Stanley, Roderick Murchison, John H. Speke and James A. Grant, with the ruler of Egypt Pasha Ismail The Magnificent, Major-General Charles George Gordon and Maharaja Duleep Singh.

In March 1861 he started upon his first tour of exploration in central Africa. This, in his own words, was undertaken "to discover the sources of the river Nile, with the hope of meeting the East African expedition under Captains Speke and Grant somewhere about the Lake Victoria." After a year spent on the Sudan–Ethiopian frontier, during which time he learned Arabic, explored the Atbara river and other Nile tributaries, and proved that the Nile sediment came from Ethiopia, he arrived at Khartoum, leaving that city in December 1862 to follow up the course of the White Nile.

Two months later at Gondokoro he met Speke and Grant, who, after discovering the source of the Nile, were following the river to Egypt. Their success made him fear that there was nothing left for his own expedition to accomplish; but the two explorers gave him information which enabled him, after separating from them, to achieve the discovery of Albert Nyanza (Lake Albert), of whose existence credible assurance had already been given to Speke and Grant. Baker first sighted the lake on March 14, 1864. After some time spent in the exploration of the neighbourhood, Baker demonstrated that the Nile flowed through the Albert Nyanza. He formed an exaggerated idea of the relative importance of the Albert and Victoria lake sources in contributing to the Nile flow rate. Although he believed them to be near equal, Albert Nyanza sources add only ~15% to the Nile flow at this point, the remainder provided primarily by outflow from Lake Victoria. He started upon his return journey, and reached Khartoum, after many checks, in May 1865.

Sir Samuel White Baker
In the following October Baker returned to England with his wife, who had accompanied him throughout the dangerous and difficult journeys in Africa. In recognition of the achievements, the Royal Geographical Society awarded him its gold medal, and a similar distinction was bestowed on him by the Paris Geographical Society. In August 1866 he was knighted. In the same year he published The Albert N'yanza, Great Basin of the Nile, and Explorations of the Nile Sources, and in 1867 The Nile Tributaries of Abyssinia, both books quickly turned into several editions. In 1868 he published a popular story called Cast up by the Sea. In 1869 he travelled with the future King Edward VII (who was the Prince of Wales at that time) through Egypt.

Baker never received quite the same level of acclamation granted to other contemporary British explorers of Africa. Queen Victoria, in particular, avoided meeting Baker because of the irregular way in which he acquired Florence, not to mention the fact that during the years of their mutual travels, the couple were not actually married. A court case involving his brother Valentine Baker (following his indecent assault of a woman on a train) also harmed Baker's chances of wider acceptance by the Victorian establishment.

In 1869, at the request of the khedive Ismail, Baker led a military expedition to the equatorial regions of the Nile, with the object of suppressing the slave-trade there and opening the way to commerce and civilization. Before starting from Cairo with a force of 1700 Egyptian troops - many of them discharged convicts - he was given the rank of pasha and major-general in the Ottoman army. Lady Baker, as before, accompanied him. The khedive appointed him Governor-General of the new territory of Equatoria for four years at a salary of £10,000 a year; and it was not until the expiration of that time that Baker returned to Cairo, leaving his work to be carried on by the new governor, Colonel Charles George Gordon.

He had to contend with innumerable difficulties - the blocking of the river in the Sudd, the hostility of officials interested in the slave-trade, the armed opposition of the natives - but he succeeded in planting in the new territory the foundations upon which others could build up an administration.

David Baker, the great-great-grandson of Sir Samuel White Baker with Julian Monroe Fisher
in the Foley Reading Room at the Royal Geographical Society in London, November 2012.
David and Julian are holding Sir Samuel Baker's original expedition rifle, "the baby".

David Baker and his daughter Melanie joined Julian
during Phase Two of The RailRiders Great African Expedition.




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