First Footsteps in East Africa, or an Exploration of Harar

PDF EBook by Richard Francis Burton

EBook Description

Richard Burton wrote “First Footsteps in East Africa” in 1856, just a year after he wrote A Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al- PDFMedinah and Meccah relating his own experiences on a Muslim haj. First Footsteps in East Africa, or an Exploration of Harar PDF EBook His journey through Somalia and Ethiopia was undertaken in his capacity as a member of the political department of the East India Company, no doubt having proved his capacity for such work during his mock pilgrimage. He went in the capacity of an explorer as much as a military spy, and with the support of the Royal Geographic Society.

Given that he never rose above the rank of captain he may have had more recognition as a geographer. In this capacity he explored the interior Somalia and regions in its hinterland searching for large lakes he had heard about from Arabs he may have come to know in Aden. Though Burton may have exaggerated his adventures and hardiness and even his own linguistic aptitude, his travelogue informs the reader of the challenges and difficulties that distinguish a traveller of less than 200 years ago with the tourist of today.

He travelled without other Europeans to Harar, a city in modern day Ethiopia, which it was believed no European had entered. Burton was in considerable danger if only because of a prophecy that the city would decline if a Christian profaned it by entry. The isolation of Harar is indicated by the local Emir’s reception of Burton, who forced him to accept his hospitality for ten days, trying to ascertain if he was a wealthy Arab or a Christian intruder. He travelled alone for three months, spending some time in the port of Zeila, a place of both military and commercial value to those hoping to gain access into East Africa. The whole time Burton stayed in Zeila, he disguised himself as a Muslim traveller, suggesting the level of danger he believed he was in.

During the subsequent phase of Burton’s journeys in East Africa, he was accompanied by Lieutenant John Hanning Speke, Lieutenant G. E. Herne and Lieutenant William Stroyan The remaining phase was coloured by dramatic events. At one point, the explorers were attacked by about 200 group of Somali waranle or warriors. Stroyan was killed; download; Speke suffered eleven wounds, was captured yet escaped. Burton was speared through both cheeks, leaving scars that were recorded as testimony in portraits and photographs. This incident demonstrates the credibility of his assessment that the Somalis to be a "fierce and turbulent race".This view may help to explain a lack of success in finding the lakes he was tasked to find, and exemplifies the valour and tenacity of other explores who did find inland sources of rivers.
The work is valuable as a record of the strong characters who were also men of learning and resource who worked for modest rewards to open up the world to trade and prosperity.
Like this book? Read online this: Tim Burton, Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Africa and the Middle East 2 Volume Set.

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