National Geographic : 1902 May
A GREAT AFRICAN LAKE* BY SIR HENRY M. STANLEY, M. P. THE other day I was favored with a peep at Commander White house's map, and I was struck with the fullness of its detail and its accuracy. I took out my old note books, and then compared the rude sketches that I made as I went from camp to camp around the Victoria Nyanza twenty seven years ago with the details which Commander Whitehouse has put in his map. Mention has been made on more than one occasion of Ugowe Bay when speak ing of this part of Africa. I remember when sailing from Bridge Island I came on a very spacious bay. Managing to get within about a hundred yards of the shore I saw a native and asked him what the name of the place was. I had to ask several times. Finally, in answer, I heard something which sounded like, "You go away." I said to myself, " Why, this must be a Swahili, who has fled from Zanzibar through committing some awful crime, and who has found shelter in this region." I again asked the man the name of the place, the man again replying, " You go away." Finally I got the interpreter to say that all I wanted was the name of the place, and again the answer was, " You go away." Under these circumstances I was, of course, bound to accept the name; anyhow, it would do very well as a landmark to indicate the place where the question had been asked, and it could be left to experts like Com mander Whitehouse to come along some day and find out whether it was " U-jee jee"or"Yougoaway." During his remarks Commander Whitehouse let slip a sentence which impressed me very much. He said, "The lake region is a very stormy one, and a day never passes without thunder, while a storm can always be seen some where, although it never lasts long. During the first survey of Port Florence, in 1898, there were no less than seven teen violent storms occurring within twenty-one days." On looking at the beautiful map shown by Commander Whitehouse I seemed to see the sailor, with his small crew and his little steel boat, wandering from point to point, crossing and recrossing, going from some island to some headland, taking his bear ings from that headland back again to the island and to some point far away; then a tornado coming down, with a torrential downpour of rain, and per haps a storm of hail, which threatened to fill the boat; then a few hours later a sun so fierce that the sides of the boat became so hot as to scorch the hand if they were touched. As I traced his many courses over the lake I thought to myself that Commander Whitehouse must have passed many anxious hours during the survey. He had said that he was occupied thirteen months in de lineating the coast line of 2,200 miles in length. When twenty-seven years ago I was instructed to go into that part of the world it was understood that I had to settle a question which very much vexed geographers at that time. According to Speke's theory that great lake, to which he had given the name " Victoria Ny anza," was one vast body of water almost equal to the size of Scotland in area, whereas, according to Sir Richard Burton, it was only a series of small lakes or swamps. The problem I had to settle was, which of the explorers was right. Hence I had to circumnavigate the lake. I carried a little sectional boat, built at * Republished from The Independent by courtesy of the editors.