Sir Samuel White Baker, KCB, FRS, FRGS was an English explorer, naturalist, big game hunter, engineer and abolitionist. He 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 between April 1869 and August 1873, which he established as the Province of Equatoria. He is remembered as the discoverer of Lake Albert, as an explorer of the Nile and interior of central Africa, for his exploits as a big game hunter in Asia, Africa and North America. Baker wrote a considerable number of 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. Samuel White Baker was born on 8 June 1821 in London, as the offspring of a wealthy commercial family.
His father, Samuel Baker Sr. was a sugar merchant and ship owner from Thorngrove, Worcestershire with mercantile ties in the West Indies. His younger brother, Col. Valentine Baker, known as "Baker Pasha", was a British hero of the African Cape Colony, the Crimean War and the Balkans dishonoured by a civilian scandal. Valentine had sought fame in the Ottoman Empire, notably the Russian-Turkish War in the Caucasus and the War of Sudan from Egypt. Samuel's other siblings were: James, Mary "Min", Ellen and Anna Eliza Baker. Baker was educated at a private school at Rottingdean in Sussex, next at the College School, Gloucester privately at Tottenham, before completing his studies in Frankfurt, Germany in 1841, he graduated MA as Civil Engineer. While commissioned, at Constanța, where, as Royal Superintendent, he designed and planned railways and other structures across the Dobruja region, from the Danube to the Black Sea. On 3 August 1843 he married his first wife, Henrietta Ann Bidgood Martin, daughter of the rector of Maisemore, Gloucestershire.
Together, they had seven children: Agnes, Charles Martin, Edith, Jane & John Lindsay Sloan. His brother John Garland Baker married Henrietta's sister Eliza Heberden Martin and after a double wedding, the four moved to Mauritius, overseeing the family's plantation. After spending two years there the desire for travel took them in 1846 to Ceylon, where in the following year he founded an agricultural settlement at Nuwara Eliya, a mountain health-resort. Aided by his family, he brought emigrants from England, together with choice breeds of cattle, before long the new settlement was a success. During his residence in Ceylon he wrote and published The Rifle and the Hound in Ceylon and two years Eight Years' Wanderings in Ceylon. After twelve years of marriage, his wife, died of typhoid fever in 1855, leaving Samuel a widower at the age of thirty-four, his two sons and one daughter died young. Baker left his four surviving daughters in the care of his unmarried sister Mary "Min". After a journey to Constantinople and the Crimea in 1856, he went to Constanța, Romania and acted as Royal Superintendent for the construction of a railway and bridges across the Dobruja, connecting the Danube with the Black Sea.
After that project was completed he spent some months on a tour of south-eastern Europe and Asia Minor. While Baker was visiting the Duke of Atholl on his shooting estate in Scotland, he befriended Maharaja Duleep Singh and in 1858–1859, the two partnered an extensive hunting trip in central Europe and the Balkans, via Frankfurt, Berlin and Budapest. On the last part of the voyage and the Maharajah hired a wooden boat in Budapest, abandoned on the frozen Danube; the two continued into Vidin. There, Baker fell in love with a white slave girl, destined for the Ottoman Pasha of Vidin, he was outbid by the Pasha but bribed the girl's attendants and they ran away in a carriage together and she became his lover and wife and accompanied him everywhere he journeyed. They are reported to have married, most in Bucharest, before going to Dubrushka, but Sir Samuel promised that they would go through another ceremony on their return to England – where they had a family wedding in 1865, she was born 6 August 1841 in Nagyenyed, Austria-Hungary and was named Florenz Barbara Maria.
She said that her nurse helped her to a refugee camp in Bulgaria. It was there that she was adopted by an Armenian family with name Finnian, her nurse married and left her during the first Amnesty of 1857. She was abducted and sold to an Armenian slave merchant, who groomed her for the Harem. Baker and the girl fled to Bucharest and remained in Romania, Baker applying for the position of British Consul there but he was refused. In Constanța, he acted as the Royal Superintendent for the construction of a railway and bridges across the Dobruja, connecting the Danube with the Black Sea. After its completion he spent some months on a tour in south-eastern Asia Minor; the new consul issued Baker's companion with a British passport under the name Florence Barbara Maria Finnian, although she was British neither by birth nor yet by marriage. She was affectionately called "Flooey" by Baker and nicknamed Anyadwe or Daughter of the Moon in what is now northern Uganda by the Luo-speaking Acholi natives
Pre-colonial history of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The pre-colonial history of the Democratic Republic of the Congo encompasses the political and social history of the territory of the modern-day Democratic Republic of the Congo before the arrival of European colonial rule in the late 19th century. The current territory of the Democratic Republic of Congo was occupied by humans in the Paleolithic at least 80,000 years ago. Waves of Bantu migrations from 2000 BC to 500 AD moved into the basin from the northwest and covered the precolonial states absorbed or overthrown by the colonial powers; the Bantu migrations added to and displaced the indigenous Pygmy populations in the southern regions of the modern Congo states. The Bantu imported agriculture and iron-working techniques from West Africa into the area, as well as establishing the Bantu language family as the primary set of tongues for the Congolese. Subsequent migrations from the Darfur and Kurdufan regions of Sudan into the north of Congo, as well as East Africans migrating into the eastern Congo, added to the mix of ethnic groups.
The area now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo was populated as early as 80,000 years ago, as shown by the 1988 discovery of the Semliki harpoon at Katanda, one of the oldest barbed harpoons found, and, believed to have been used to catch giant river catfish. In 1960 the Ishango bone tool was discovered, fashioned from the fibula of a baboon with a sharp piece of quartz affixed to one end for engraving, it was first thought to be a tally stick, as it has a series of what has been interpreted as tally marks carved in three columns running the length of the tool, but some scientists have suggested that the groupings of the notches indicate a mathematical understanding that goes beyond counting. It is now believed to be more than 20,000 years old; the Bantu expansion is thought to have reached modern day DRC as well as Northern Angola and Zambia as early as 500 BC, gradually started to expand southward. Their propagation was accelerated of Iron Age technology; the people living in the south and southwest were hunter-gatherer groups, whose technology involved only minimal use of metal technologies.
The development of metal tools during this time period revolutionized agriculture and animal husbandry. This led to the displacement of the hunter-gatherer groups in southeast; the 10th century marked the final expansion of the Bantu in West-Central Africa. Rising population soon made intricate local and foreign commercial nets possible, forming networks that traded in salt and copper. In the 15th century, a society began to develop in the Upemba depression along the banks of the Lualaba River in Katanga; this culture, known as the Upemba, would evolve into the more significant Luba Empire, as well as the Kingdom of Lunda. The process in which the primitive original Upemba society transitioned into the Luba kingdom was gradual and complex; this transition ran without interruption, with several distinct societies developing out of the Upemba culture prior to the genesis of the Luba. Each of these societies based the foundation of their society on that of the one; the 5th century saw this societal evolution develop in the area around present day Kamilamba at the Kabambasee, followed and replaced by a number of other cultures which were based around the cities of Sanga and Katango.
The region in which these cultures appeared is rich in ore and these civilizations began to develop and implement iron and copper technology, in addition to trading in ivory and other goods. The Upemba established a strong commercial demand for their metal technologies and were able to institute a long-range commercial net. Additionally, the region was endowed with favorable agricultural conditions and a wealth of fish and game, its strong economy and food-base allowed the region to become wealthy. So wealthy, in fact, that cities and centralized government based on a chieftain system developed; the political institution of the chieftain became accepted and these rulers became powerful at the end of the 16th century. Additionally, it must be mentioned that, as is this case today, the Congo River and its tributaries, as well as climatic conditions in general, play a powerful role in shaping the lives of the inhabitants of the Congo; the rivers are and were tremendously important to regional trade and provide a vast natural network for such activities, in addition to providing a source of food and water to the population.
It must be mentioned that the climate is a major force in the Congo, made up of tropical rainforest that sees some of the highest annual rainfall in the world. This high amount of rainfall makes it difficult to sustain agriculture, subsequently a large population because the soil is too watered-down and prone to periodic floods to produce large quantities of food. For this reason, the population of the Congo has maintained a low population in addition to an low population density. Much has been made about the large number of primitive hunter-gatherer groups that inhabit the Congo the Pygmy population; the reason for this particular life-style being so prominent in the Congo is geographical and climatic: the area is not capable of producing a large amount of food from agriculture, as a result, a portion of the population has continued to hunt and gather because it is a much more sustainable way of life. The dominant political force of the Congo re
A waterfall is an area where water flows over a vertical drop or a series of steep drops in the course of a stream or river. Waterfalls occur where meltwater drops over the edge of a tabular iceberg or ice shelf. Waterfalls are formed in the upper course of a river in steep mountains; because of their landscape position, many waterfalls occur over bedrock fed by little contributing area, so may be ephemeral and flow only during rainstorms or significant snowmelt. The further downstream, the more perennial a waterfall can be. Waterfalls can have a wide range of depths; when the river courses over resistant bedrock, erosion happens and is dominated by impacts of water-borne sediment on the rock, while downstream the erosion occurs more rapidly. As the watercourse increases its velocity at the edge of the waterfall, it may pluck material from the riverbed, if the bed is fractured or otherwise more erodible. Hydraulic jets and hydraulic jumps at the toe of a falls can generate large forces to erode the bed when forces are amplified by water-borne sediment.
Horseshoe-shaped falls focus the erosion to a central point enhancing riverbed change below a waterfalls. A process known as "potholing" involves local erosion of a deep hole in bedrock due to turbulent whirlpools spinning stones around on the bed, drilling it out. Sand and stones carried by the watercourse therefore increase erosion capacity; this causes the waterfall to recede upstream. Over time, the waterfall will recede back to form a canyon or gorge downstream as it recedes upstream, it will carve deeper into the ridge above it; the rate of retreat for a waterfall can be as high as one-and-a-half metres per year. The rock stratum just below the more resistant shelf will be of a softer type, meaning that undercutting due to splashback will occur here to form a shallow cave-like formation known as a rock shelter under and behind the waterfall; the outcropping, more resistant cap rock will collapse under pressure to add blocks of rock to the base of the waterfall. These blocks of rock are broken down into smaller boulders by attrition as they collide with each other, they erode the base of the waterfall by abrasion, creating a deep plunge pool in the gorge downstream.
Streams can become wider and shallower just above waterfalls due to flowing over the rock shelf, there is a deep area just below the waterfall because of the kinetic energy of the water hitting the bottom. However, a study of waterfalls systematics reported that waterfalls can be wider or narrower above or below a falls, so anything is possible given the right geological and hydrological setting. Waterfalls form in a rocky area due to erosion. After a long period of being formed, the water falling off the ledge will retreat, causing a horizontal pit parallel to the waterfall wall; as the pit grows deeper, the waterfall collapses to be replaced by a steeply sloping stretch of river bed. In addition to gradual processes such as erosion, earth movement caused by earthquakes or landslides or volcanoes can cause a differential in land heights which interfere with the natural course of a water flow, result in waterfalls. A river sometimes flows over a large step in the rocks. Waterfalls can occur along the edge of a glacial trough, where a stream or river flowing into a glacier continues to flow into a valley after the glacier has receded or melted.
The large waterfalls in Yosemite Valley are examples of this phenomenon, referred to as a hanging valley. Another reason hanging valleys may form is where two rivers join and one is flowing faster than the other. Waterfalls can be grouped into ten broad classes based on the average volume of water present on the fall using a logarithmic scale. Class 10 waterfalls include Paulo Afonso Falls and Khone Falls. Classes of other well-known waterfalls include Kaieteur Falls. Alexander von Humboldt "Father of Modern Geography" Humboldt was marking waterfalls on maps for river navigation purposes. Oscar von Engeln Published "Geomorphology: systematic and regional", this book had a whole chapter devoted to waterfalls, is one of the earliest examples of published works on waterfalls. R. W. Young Wrote "Waterfalls: form and process" this work made waterfalls a much more serious topic for research for modern Geoscientists. Ledge waterfall: Water descends vertically over a vertical cliff, maintaining partial contact with the bedrock.
Block/Sheet: Water descends from a wide stream or river. Classical: Ledge waterfalls where fall height is nearly equal to stream width, forming a vertical square shape. Curtain: Ledge waterfalls which descend over a height larger than the width of falling water stream. Plunge: Fast-moving water descends vertically, losing complete contact with the bedrock surface; the contact is lost due to horizontal velocity of the water before it falls. It always starts from a narrow stream. Punchbowl: Water descends in a constricted form and spreads out in a wider pool. Horsetail: Descending water maintains contact with bedrock most of the time. Slide: Water glides down maintaining continuous contact. Ribbon: Water descends over a long narrow strip. Chute: A large quantity of water forced through a narrow, vertical passage. Fan: Water spreads horizontally as
The Zambezi is the fourth-longest river in Africa, the longest east-flowing river in Africa and the largest flowing into the Indian Ocean from Africa. The area of its basin is 1,390,000 square kilometres less than half of the Nile's; the 2,574-kilometre-long river rises in Zambia and flows through eastern Angola, along the north-eastern border of Namibia and the northern border of Botswana along the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe to Mozambique, where it crosses the country to empty into the Indian Ocean. The Zambezi's most noted feature is Victoria Falls. Other notable falls include the Chavuma Falls at the border between Zambia and Angola, Ngonye Falls, near Sioma in Western Zambia. There are two main sources of hydroelectric power on the river, the Kariba Dam, which provides power to Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Cahora Bassa Dam in Mozambique, which provides power to Mozambique and South Africa. There are additional two smaller power stations along the Zambezi River in Zambia, one at Victoria Falls and the other one near Kalene Hill in Ikelenge District.
The river rises in a black marshy dambo in dense undulating miombo woodland 50 kilometres north of Mwinilunga and 20 kilometres south of Ikelenge in the Ikelenge District of North-Western Province, Zambia at about 1,524 metres above sea level. The area around the source is forest reserve and Important Bird Area. Eastward of the source, the watershed between the Congo and Zambezi basins is a well-marked belt of high ground, running nearly east-west and falling abruptly to the north and south; this distinctly cuts off the basin of the Lualaba from that of the Zambezi. In the neighborhood of the source the watershed is not as defined, but the two river systems do not connect; the region drained by the Zambezi is a vast broken-edged plateau 900–1200 m high, composed in the remote interior of metamorphic beds and fringed with the igneous rocks of the Victoria Falls. At Shupanga, on the lower Zambezi, thin strata of grey and yellow sandstones, with an occasional band of limestone, crop out on the bed of the river in the dry season, these persist beyond Tete, where they are associated with extensive seams of coal.
Coal is found in the district just below Victoria Falls. Gold-bearing rocks occur in several places; the river flows to the southwest into Angola for about 240 kilometres is joined by sizeable tributaries such as the Luena and the Chifumage flowing from highlands to the north-west. It turns south and develops a floodplain, with extreme width variation between the dry and rainy seasons, it enters dense evergreen Cryptosepalum dry forest, though on its western side, Western Zambezian grasslands occur. Where it re-enters Zambia it is nearly 400 metres wide in the rainy season and flows with rapids ending in the Chavuma Falls, where the river flows through a rocky fissure; the river drops about 400 metres in elevation from its source at 1,500 metres to the Chavuma Falls at 1,100 metres, in a distance of about 400 kilometres. From this point to the Victoria Falls, the level of the basin is uniform, dropping only by another 180 metres in a distance of around 800 kilometres; the first of its large tributaries to enter the Zambezi is the Kabompo River in the northwestern province of Zambia.
A major advantage of the Kabompo River was irrigation. The savanna through which the river has flowed gives way to a wide floodplain, studded with Borassus fan palms. A little farther south is the confluence with the Lungwebungu River; this is the beginning of the Barotse Floodplain, the most notable feature of the upper Zambezi, but this northern part does not flood so much and includes islands of higher land in the middle. Thirty kilometres below the confluence of the Lungwebungu the country becomes flat, the typical Barotse Floodplain landscape unfolds, with the flood reaching a width of 25 km in the rainy season. For more than 200 km downstream the annual flood cycle dominates the natural environment and human life and culture. Eighty kilometres further down, the Luanginga, which with its tributaries drains a large area to the west, joins the Zambezi. A few kilometres higher up on the east the main stream is joined in the rainy season by overflow of the Luampa/Luena system. A short distance downstream of the confluence with the Luanginga is Lealui, one of the capitals of the Lozi people who populate the Zambian region of Barotseland in Western Province.
The chief of the Lozi maintains one of his two compounds at Lealui. The annual move from Lealui to Limulunga is a major event, celebrated as one of Zambia's best known festivals, the Kuomboka. After Lealui, the river turns to south-south-east. From the east it continues to receive numerous small streams, but on the west is without major tributaries for 240 km. Before this, the Ngonye Falls and subsequent rapids interrupt navigation. South of Ngonye Falls, the river borders Namibia's Caprivi Strip; the strip projects from the main body of Namibia, results from the colonial era: it was added to German South-West Africa expressly to give Germany access to the Zambezi. Below the junction of the Cuando River and the Zambezi the river bends due east. Here, the river is broad and shallow, flows but as it flows eastward towards the border of the great central plateau of Africa it reaches a chasm into which the Victoria Falls plunge; the Victoria Falls are considered the boundary between the middle Zambezi.
Below them the river continues to flow due east for about 20
Alexander Gordon Laing
Major Alexander Gordon Laing was a British explorer and the first European to reach Timbuktu via the north/south route. Laing was born in Edinburgh in late 1794, he was educated by his father, William Laing, a private teacher of classics, at Edinburgh University. In 1811, he went to Barbados as clerk to his maternal uncle Colonel Gabriel Gordon Through General Sir George Beckwith, the governor of Barbados, he obtained an ensigncy in the York Light Infantry Volunteers in 1813, he was promoted lieutenant without purchase in 1815 and transferred to the 2nd West India Regiment after his former regiment was disbanded in 1817. In 1822 he transferred into the Royal African Colonial Corps as a captain. In that year, while with his regiment at Sierra Leone, he was sent by the governor Sir Charles MacCarthy, to the Mandingo country, with the double object of opening up commerce and endeavouring to abolish the slave trade in that region; that year, Laing visited Falaba, the capital of the Solimana country, ascertained the source of the Rokel.
He was stopped by the natives. He was, able to fix it with approximate accuracy. In 1824 he was granted the local rank of major in Africa only, he took an active part in the Ashanti War of 1823-24, was sent home with the despatches containing the news of the death in action of Sir Charles MacCarthy. While in England in 1824, Laing prepared a narrative of his journeys, published in 1825 and entitled Travels in the Timannee and Soolima Countries, in Western Africa. Laing believed he had found the source of the Niger and proposed to travel along the river to its delta. Joseph Banks, president of the African Association supported his project, hoping that the expedition would reveal the location of Timbuktu. Henry, 3rd Earl Bathurst secretary for the colonies, instructed Captain Laing to undertake a journey, via Tripoli and Timbuktu, to further elucidate the hydrography of the Niger basin. Laing left England in February 1825, at Tripoli on 14 July he married Emma Warrington, daughter of the British consul.
Two days leaving his bride behind, he started to cross the Sahara, accompanied by a sheikh, subsequently accused of planning his murder. Ghadames was reached, by an indirect route, in October 1825, in December Laing reached In Salah in the Tuat territory, where he was well received by one particular group of Tuareg. On 10 January 1826, he made for Timbuktu across the desert of Tanezrouft. Letters written in May and July told of his suffering from fever and the plundering of his caravan by another group of Tuareg. Laing describes being wounded in 24 places in the fighting. Together with another survivor, he managed to reach Sidi Al Muktar and having lost his right hand, he joined another caravan and reached Timbuktu, thus becoming the first European to cross the Sahara from north to south. His letter dated from Timbuktu on 21 September announced his arrival in that city on the preceding 18 August, the insecurity of his position owing to the hostility of the Fula chieftain Bello ruling the city.
He added. No further news was received from the explorer. From information pieced together it was ascertained that he left Timbuktu on the day he had planned, he was brutally strangled by Tuareg raiders—two men pulling on each end of a turban wrapped around Laing's neck—on or about the night of 26 September 1826. Laing's papers were never recovered, his father-in-law, Hanmer Warrington, accused the French of interference and having procured Laing's journal. René Caillié reached Timbuktu two years after Laing and by returning alive was able to claim the 10,000-franc prize offered by the Société de Géographie for the feat. Both men were awarded the Gold Medal of the Society for 1830. In 1903, the French government placed a tablet bearing Laing's name and the date of his visit on the house occupied by him during his 38-day stay in Timbuktu; this house, located in the Djingareiber district, inside the old town, was declared a National Heritage by decree of 18 December 1992
The Bantu expansion is a major series of migrations of the original proto-Bantu language speaking group, who spread from an original nucleus around West Africa-Central Africa across much of sub-Saharan Africa. In the process, the Proto-Bantu-speaking settlers displaced or absorbed pre-existing hunter-gatherer and pastoralist groups that they encountered; the primary evidence for this expansion is linguistic - a great many of the languages spoken across Sub-Equatorial Africa are remarkably similar to each other, suggesting the common cultural origin of their original speakers. The linguistic core of the Bantu languages, which comprise a branch of the Niger–Congo family, was located in the adjoining regions of Cameroon and Nigeria. However, attempts to trace the exact route of the expansion, to correlate it with archaeological evidence and genetic evidence, have not been conclusive; the expansion is believed to have taken place in at least two waves, between about 3,000 and 2,000 years ago. Linguistic analysis suggests that the expansion proceeded in two directions: the first went across the Congo forest region, the second - and others - went south along the African coast into Gabon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, or inland along the many south-to-north flowing rivers of the Congo River system.
The expansion reached South Africa as early as 300 AD. Archaeologists believed that they could find archaeological similarities in the ancient cultures of the region that the Bantu-speakers were held to have traversed, they believed that the expansion was caused by the development of agriculture, the making of ceramics, the use of iron, which permitted new ecological zones to be exploited. In 1966 Roland Oliver published an article presenting these correlations as a reasonable hypothesis; the hypothesized Bantu expansion pushed out or assimilated the hunter-forager proto-Khoisan, who had inhabited Southern Africa. In Eastern and Southern Africa, Bantu speakers may have adopted livestock husbandry from other unrelated Cushitic- and Nilotic-speaking peoples they encountered. Herding practices reached the far south several centuries. Archaeological, linguistic and environmental evidence all support the conclusion that the Bantu expansion was a significant human migration; the Niger–Congo family comprises a huge group of languages spread throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Benue–Congo branch includes the Bantu languages, which are found throughout Central and Eastern Africa. A characteristic feature of most Niger–Congo languages, including the Bantu languages, is their use of tone, they lack case inflection, but grammatical gender is characteristic, with some languages having two dozen genders. The root of the verb tends to remain unchanged, with either particles or auxiliary verbs expressing tenses and moods. For example, in a number of languages the infinitival is the auxiliary designating the future. Before the expansion of Bantu-speaking farmers, Central and Southeast Africa were populated by Pygmy foragers, Khoisan-speaking hunter-gatherers, Nilo-Saharan-speaking herders, Cushitic-speaking pastoralists, it is thought that Central African Pygmies and Bantus branched out from a common ancestral population c. 70,000 years ago. Many Batwa groups speak Bantu languages. Much of this vocabulary is botanical, deals with honey collecting, or is otherwise specialised for the forest and is shared between western Batwa groups.
It has been proposed. Before the Bantu expansion, Khoisan-speaking peoples inhabited Southern Africa, their descendants have mixed with other peoples and adopted other languages. A few still live by foraging supplemented by working for neighbouring farmers in the arid regions around the Kalahari desert, while a larger number of Nama continue their traditional subsistence by raising livestock in Namibia and adjacent South Africa. Prior to the arrival of Bantus in Southeast Africa, Cushitic-speaking peoples had migrated into the region from the Ethiopian Highlands and other more northerly areas; the first waves consisted of Southern Cushitic speakers, who settled around Lake Turkana and parts of Tanzania beginning around 5,000 years ago. Many centuries around 1,000 AD, some Eastern Cushitic speakers settled in northern and coastal Kenya. In addition, Khoisan-speaking hunter-gatherers inhabited Southeast Africa before the Bantu expansion. Nilo-Saharan-speaking herder populations comprised a third group of the area's pre-Bantu expansion inhabitants.
It seems that the expansion of the Bantu-speaking people from their core region in West Africa began around 1000 BC. Although early models posited that the early speakers were both iron-using and agricultural, archaeology has shown that they did not use iron until as late as 400 BC, though they were agricultural; the western branch, not linguistically distinct, according to Christopher Ehret, followed the coast and the major rivers of the Congo system southward, reaching central Angola by around 500 BC. It is clear that there were human populations in the region at the time of the expansion, pygmies are their closest living relatives. However, mtDNA genetic research from Cabinda suggests that only haplogroups that originated in West Africa are found
Auguste René Caillié was a French explorer and the first European to return alive from the town of Timbuktu. Caillié was born in western France in a village near the port of Rochefort, his parents died while he was still young. At the age of 16 he left home and signed up as a member of the crew on a French naval vessel sailing to Saint-Louis on the coast of modern Senegal in western Africa, he stayed there for several months and crossed the Atlantic to Guadeloupe on a merchantman. He made a second visit to West Africa two years when he accompanied a British expedition across the Ferlo Desert to Bakel on the Senegal River. Caillié returned to Saint-Louis in 1824 with a strong desire to become an explorer and visit Timbuktu. In order to avoid some of the difficulties experienced by the earlier expeditions, he planned to travel alone disguised as a Muslim, he persuaded the French governor in Saint-Louis to help finance a stay of 8 months with the nomadic people in the Brakna region of southern Mauritania where he learned Arabic and the customs of Islam.
He failed to obtain further funding from either the French or the British governments, but encouraged by the prize of 10,000 francs offered by the Société de Géographie in Paris for the first person to return with a description of Timbuktu, he decided to fund the journey himself. He worked for a few months in the British colony of Sierra Leone to save some money travelled by ship to Boké on the Rio Nuñez in modern Guinea. From there in April 1827 he set off across West Africa, he arrived in Timbuktu a year and stayed there for two weeks before heading across the Sahara Desert to Tangier in Morocco. On his return to France, he was awarded the prize of 10,000 francs by the Société de Géographie and helped by the scholar Edme-François Jomard, published an account of his journey. In 1830 he was awarded the Gold Medal by the Société de Géographie. Caillié settled near his birthplace, he suffered from poor health and died of tuberculosis aged 38. René Caillié was born on 19 November 1799 in Mauzé-sur-le-Mignon, a village in the department of Deux-Sèvres in western France.
His father, François Caillé, had worked as a baker but four months before René was born he was accused of petty theft and sentenced to 12 years of hard labour in a penal colony at Rochefort. He died there in 1808, at the age of 46. René's mother, Élizabeth née Lépine, died three years in 1811 at the age of 38. After her death, René and his 18-year-old sister, Céleste, were cared for by their maternal grandmother. In the introduction to his Travels through Central Africa to Timbuctoo, Caillié described how as a teenager he had been fascinated by books on travel and exploration:... and as soon as I could read and write, I was put to learn a trade, to which I soon took a dislike, owing to the reading of voyages and travels, which occupied all my leisure moments. The History of Robinson Crusoe, in particular, inflamed my young imagination: I was impatient to encounter adventures like him. Caillié left home at the age of 16 with 60 francs, he made his way to the port of 50 km from Mauzé-sur-le-Mignon on the River Charente.
There he signed up as a crew member on the Loire, a French naval storeship, to accompany the frigate Méduse and two other vessels on a voyage to reclaim the French colony of Saint-Louis from the British under the terms of the 1814 and 1815 Paris Treaties. The four ships left their anchorage near the Île d'Aix at the mouth of the Charente River in June 1816; the Méduse went ahead of the Loire and was wrecked on the Bank of Arguin off the coast of present-day Mauritania. A few survivors were picked up by the other vessels; the shipwreck received a large amount of publicity and was the subject of a famous oil painting, The Raft of the Medusa, by Théodore Géricault. When the three remaining French ships arrived at Saint-Louis they found that the British governor was not ready to hand over the colony so the ships continued southwards and moored off the island of Gorée, near Dakar. Caillié spent some months in Dakar only a village, before returning by ship to Saint-Louis. There he learned that an English expedition led by Major William Gray was preparing to leave from the Gambia to explore the interior of the continent.
Caillié set off along the coast with two companions. He found the oppressive heat and lack of water exhausting, he abandoned his plan at Dakar and instead obtained a free passage on a merchantman across the Atlantic to Guadeloupe. Caillié found employment for six months in Guadeloupe. While there he read Mungo Park's account of his exploration of the Middle Niger in present-day Mali. Park had been the first European to reach the Niger River and visit the towns of Ségou and Bamako. An account of his first trip had been published in French in 1799. Park made a second expedition beginning in 1805 but was drowned in descending the rapids on the Niger, near Bussa, in present-day Nigeria. An account of the second trip had been published in English in 1815. Caillié returned to Bordeaux in France and travelled to Senegal where he arrived at end of 1818, he made a journey into the interior to the pre-colonial state of Bundu to carry supplies for a British expedition but he fell ill with fever and was obliged to return to France.
In 1824 he returned to Senegal for the third time with the desire to visit the African interior. The Paris-based Société de Géographie was offering a 10,000-franc reward to the first European to see and return alive from Timbuktu, believing it to be a rich and wondrous city. He