The Early Exploration of Kilimanjaro: A Bibliographical Note

Fosbrooke, H.A.

1965

Book ID 768

See also

Fosbrooke, H.A. The Early Exploration of Kilimanjaro: A Bibliographical Note, 1965
Page Number: 01
Extract Date: 1500

Unknown to the outside world

This note does not attempt to describe in detail the exploration of Kilimanjaro, but to refer readers to the descriptions of the successive attempts to climb the mountain from the first sighting by Rebmann in 1845 to the successful attempt by Meyer in 1889.

It is indeed curious that the existence of such a striking natural phenomenon remained unknown to the outside world till the middle of the nineteenth century, more particularly as the Arabs had been up and down the Coast from the 9th Century, the Chinese had visited Malindi in the 15th Century, and the Portuguese, after the first visit to Malindi in 1498 had been settled in Mombasa since 1507.

Extract ID: 4540

See also

Fosbrooke, H.A. The Early Exploration of Kilimanjaro: A Bibliographical Note, 1965
Page Number: 02
Extract Date: 1519

Mount Olympus

One early reference to Kilimanjaro has come to light, that of a Spanish geographer Fernandes de Encisco, who in 1519 published his Suma De Geographia Que Trata De Todas Las Partidas Y Provincias Del Mundo.

He states, and here I quote from Johnston (1886: p. 7 n.2) "West of this port (Mombasa) is the Ethiopian Mount Olympus, which is very high, and further off are the mountains of the moon in which are the sources of the Nile. In all this country are much gold and "aineles fieros" (probably "animaels fiieros" wild animals) and here devour the people locasts (lagostas)"

Johnston acknowledges his endebtedness for this reference to E.G. Ravenstein, a mid-19th Century geographer, but Meyer (1891 p. 5-6) who also uses the same quotation from Encisco, does not indicate his source. His quotation is not however taken directly from Johnston, as the translation is slightly different.

Extract ID: 4545

See also

Fosbrooke, H.A. The Early Exploration of Kilimanjaro: A Bibliographical Note, 1965
Page Number: 03
Extract Date: 1519 - 1848

References to Kilimanjaro seem to be non-existent

From 1519 to 1848 published references to Kilimanjaro seem to be non-existent. The indefatigable historian of southern Africa, S.M. Theal, failed to reveal anything about Kilimanjaro, though his searches in the libraries and archives of Europe, published as Records of South Eastern Africa 1898-1903, contain, in volume III (1899) numerous references to Mombasa and Malindi.

There is for instance an account of an attempt to penetrate up the Athi River from Malindi prior to 1569 (Theal op. cit. III p, 214), but this ended in failure. There are further hints in the literature that the Portuguese were probing up country from the 16th to the 19th Century onwards. It would in fact have been quite remarkable and out of character if they had not.

For further south they were doing just this, as witness Sir John Gray's description (1945 p. 37) of "A Journey from Tete (on the upper Zambezi) to Kilwa in 1616," or Lacerda's journey into Bemba country in Zambia (Northern Rodesia) in 1798, published m Richard Burton's The Lands of Kazembe (1873).

Extract ID: 4546

See also

Fosbrooke, H.A. The Early Exploration of Kilimanjaro: A Bibliographical Note, 1965
Page Number: 04
Extract Date: 1849

Looking for stones

As far as North Eastern Tanganyika is concerned, I myself came across a tradition In the Southern Pare Mountains that long ago white men came up from the coast, and camped at the foot of the mountains. They were "Looking for stones", doubtless prospecting for gold, and did not harm or come into conflict with the local population.

Over a century ago Rebmann (1849) the first man to make the existence of Kilimanjaro known in Europe, recorded "Some tradition of a Portuguese establishment in Jagga (Chagga) as having taken place about two centuries ago (i.e. circa 1650) is, as my guide informed me, still found with the Madjame (Machame) tribe". A map published in the same Journal (1849) shows a hill lying between the Pare Mountains and the Ruvu River bearing the legend "Hereabouts is a mountain on which the ruins of a castle and a broken piece of cannon are said to be seen" .

Extract ID: 4547

See also

Fosbrooke, H.A. The Early Exploration of Kilimanjaro: A Bibliographical Note, 1965
Page Number: 05
Extract Date: 1872

`Kizungu" (meaning "European" in Swahili)

Richard Burton (1872, Vol II, p.237) mentions a village called `Kizungu" (meaning "European" in Swahili) an inland settlement of the Wazeguva " which he states was mentioned by Krapf as having been occupied by Portuguese." Thus there are indications of stepping stones from the favoured port of Pangani, following the Ruvu rivier right up to Kilimanjaro, but there exists no record of who used this route or of what they saw when they arrived in Chaggaland.

Extract ID: 4548

See also

Fosbrooke, H.A. The Early Exploration of Kilimanjaro: A Bibliographical Note, 1965
Page Number: 06
Extract Date: 1848

The Church Missionary Intelligencer

The news of the sighting of snow capped mountains near the equator burst on the Western world when Rebmann published an account of his first journey to Chaggaland in 1848 in The Church Missionary Intelligencer, Vol. I, No. I, May 1849. This stirred up a heated argument in which numerous learned gentlemen argued that it was impossible for snow clad mountains to exist in the tropics.

For examples of the arguments and counter-arguments used see a letter in the Athenaeum dated 19th May 1849 and many further letters and articles in that Journal and the The Church Missionary Intelligencer. One of the most ardent opponents of Rebmann was one Cooley who in 1852 published his book Inner Africa laid Open. For a summary of the arguments and also somewhat abreviated accounts of Rebmann's three journeys to Chaggaland see Dr. Krapf's Travels, Researches and Missionary Labours (1860).

Extract ID: 4549

See also

Fosbrooke, H.A. The Early Exploration of Kilimanjaro: A Bibliographical Note, 1965
Page Number: 07
Extract Date: 1861 1862

Baron K. K. von der Decken

The argument was not settled, nor did any explorer attempt to visit or climb Kilimanjaro till a German, Baron K. K. von der Decken, accompanied by a young English geologist, Richard Thornton, travelled from Mombasa to Chaggaland in 1861 and attempted the first conquest of Kilimanjaro. For an account of this attempt which only reached 5,200 feet, see Thornton's diaries, at present being prepared for publication.

In 1862 the Baron, accompanied by a German, Otto Kersten, renewed the attempt. For details of how the party reached 14,200 feet before being forced to return by bad weather and uncooperative porters, see Kersten's account in his six volume opus published between 1869 and 1879. This account has been translated and published in English for the first time in this number of T.N.R.

Extract ID: 4550

See also

Fosbrooke, H.A. The Early Exploration of Kilimanjaro: A Bibliographical Note, 1965
Page Number: 08
Extract Date: August 1871

Charles New

The next recorded attempt on Kilimanjaro was by a missionary, Charles New, who after a first attempt on 14th August 1871, started again on 26th August 1871 and reached the snow line on 28th accompanied by one servant and a Chagga guide. His first account was published in the proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society in 1872 and more fully in his book Life, Wanderings and Labours in Eastern Africa (1873)

Extract ID: 4551

See also

Fosbrooke, H.A. The Early Exploration of Kilimanjaro: A Bibliographical Note, 1965
Page Number: 09
Extract Date: 1883

Joseph Thompson

More than ten years pass till numerous attempts between 1883 and 1889 culminated in the final conquest of Kilimanjaro.

Joseph Thompson who visited the area in 1883, didn't really attempt an ascent. He describes in his book Through Masailand (1885,pp.144-147) how he started on a one-day expedition from Moshi (Mandara's) without camping equipment in April 1883 ; by 9 a.m. he was at 5,000 feet and by 1 p.m. at 9,000 feet, where he turned back after 7 hours climbing, being reluctantly compelled to desist and give up my intention of penetrating above the forest region. Thompson then left. Chaggaland and travelled through what is now Kenya, giving us the first description of the north face of Kilimanjaro (op. cit pp. 209-214). He comments on the lack of population on the northern .slopes, which he attributes to "Its extremely precipitous nature, there being no projecting platforms, and no streams".

Extract ID: 4552

See also

Fosbrooke, H.A. The Early Exploration of Kilimanjaro: A Bibliographical Note, 1965
Page Number: 10
Extract Date: August 1884

Sir Harry Johnston

Sir Harry Johnston was however a serious contender, when, during the course of.his six months sojourn in Chaggaland in 1884 he made two attempts at the mountain. On the first, made in August/September 1884 from Moshi (Mandara's) he climbed to 9,000 feet (Johnston 1886, pp. 229-237) whilst on the second he left Marangu in October, and spent most of that month camped above the forest at nearly 10,000 feet (op. cit. pp. 259-274). From this camp, which he estimates was 4 miles from Mawenzi and 7 from Kibo.

He, unaccompanied, made a determined attempt at the latter. He reached the snow line and thought of turning back but states "Nevertheless I thought 'only a little farther and perhaps I may ascend above, the clouds and stand gazing down into the crater of Kilimanjaro from its snowy rim" . So, encouraged by this thought, he struggled on to an altitude he puts at 16,315 feet, but by 4.30 p.m. he was forced to turn back. Next day but one he made a second attempt, but was turned back by bad weather.

The interesting point about this account is the reference to the crater. To date, no one had claimed to have climed Kibo or mentioned the existence of a crater; was this just deduction on Johnston's part or had he in fact picked up a story from some local Chagga who had in fact scaled the mountain and told him of the existence of a crater ?

Some years later Hans Meyer, the Conquerer of Kilimanjaro, refutes the claim of Abbott and Ehlers to have reached the summit because they made no mention of a crater. This is logical enough but they could if they had wished, have claimed the existence of a crater merely by referring to Johnston.

Extract ID: 4553

See also

Fosbrooke, H.A. The Early Exploration of Kilimanjaro: A Bibliographical Note, 1965
Page Number: 11
Extract Date: 1887

Count Teleki and Lieut. Hoehnel

The next recorded climb is by Count Teleki and Lieut. Hoehnel in 1887. Writing in his book The Discovery of Lakes Rudolf and Stephanie, Hoehnel (1894, Vol. l p.195 et seq) describes how on 20th June he reached 16,240 feet when he was overcome and was compelled to stop.

But the intrepid Count went on unaccompanied to an altitude of 17,387 feet. But his lips were beginning to bleed freely and he felt dreadfully sleepy but went on till he reached the snow, where sleep so nearly overcame him that knowing it would be dangerous to yield to it, he decided to return. So ended yet another attempt, and the Count and his companion exchanged the freezing cold of Kilimanjaro for the burning heat of Lake Rudolf.

Extract ID: 4554

See also

Fosbrooke, H.A. The Early Exploration of Kilimanjaro: A Bibliographical Note, 1965
Page Number: 12
Extract Date: 1887

Hans Meyer made his first attempt

In the same year, 1887, Hans Meyer made his first attempt on the mountain, accompanied by Herr von Eberstein, but was defeated at 18,400 feet (Meyer 1891, p. viii). In 1888 he did a trip through the Usambaras but did not penetrate further inland than Gonja at the eastern foot of the South Pare Mountains.

Extract ID: 4555

See also

Fosbrooke, H.A. The Early Exploration of Kilimanjaro: A Bibliographical Note, 1965
Page Number: 13
Extract Date: 1889

Dr. Abbott and Mr. Ehlers

In 1889 Dr. Abbott and Mr. Ehlers made an attempt to climb Kilimanjaro, concerning which I can find no detailed documentation. Meyer (op. cit p. 133) uses their camp, which he places above the forest at 9,480 feet so their attempt must have preceded Meyers, who states that Ehlers put forward a claim which he later retracted, to have reached the summit.

Extract ID: 4556

See also

Fosbrooke, H.A. The Early Exploration of Kilimanjaro: A Bibliographical Note, 1965
Page Number: 14
Extract Date: 5 October 1889

Purtscheller and Meyer

Finally in 1889, with a trained mountaineer called Purtscheller he [Meyer] ascended to the highest point of Kibo on 5th October 1889 (op. cit p. 147). He also spent some time on the saddle and in attempting to climb Mawenzi but in this he failed (op. cit. pp.162-194).

Extract ID: 4557

See also

Fosbrooke, H.A. The Early Exploration of Kilimanjaro: A Bibliographical Note, 1965
Page Number: 15
Extract Date: 1891

Literature of East Africa containing references to Kilimanjaro

Thus ends the story of the exploration of Kilimanjaro But should anyone wish to make a further study in depth of exploration In this part of the world they cannot do better than consult the exhaustive bibliography in Meyer (op. cit pp.304-397).

This contains details of 219 articles and books published between 1833 and 1890, the section being entitled "Literature of East Africa containing references to Kilimanjaro"

It is divided into a general section of early literature (17 entries, 8 in German),

then "Journeys of the Missionaries Krapf, Rebmann and Erhardt" (25 entries, 17 in German),

"Burton's Travels" (7 entries, 3 in German)

"C.C. von der Decken's expeditions, 1860-65" (14 entries, all English).

Another general section follows "Journeys, books and Papers from 1870-1880" (23 entries, 11 in German),

"H.H. Johnston's Expedition" (10 entries, 2 in German)

"Dr. G.A. Fischer's Expeditions 1880-85" (15 entries, 4 In German)

"Count Teleki's Expedition, 1887 and 1888" (8 entries, 6 in German)

"Journeys, Books and Papers from 1885-90" (56 entries, 43 in German)

and finally the author's own contributions to the literature "Dr. Hares Meyers Expeditions 1887, -1888 and 1889" (22 entries, 20 in German).

This lengthy catalogue shows the intense interest which European scientists and the reading public were displaying in African exploration in the 19th centruy and also the thoroughness with which Dr. Meyer prepared his expeditions. His most detailed work was in German Der Kilimanjaro (Meyer 1900) containing superb photos of. Kibo and Mawenzi and many interesting contemporary illustrations.

For the general reader without access to libraries, a number of abridgements of the early works referred to above are available, particularly the East African Literature Bureau's Early Travellers in East Africa series, with books on

Krapf by C.G. Richards,

Charles New by R. Forbes Watson,

Johnston by E.A. Loftus,

Count Teleki by C.G. Richards and

Thompson by E.A. Loftus.

More recent publications are Charles Richards (ed.) (1961) Some Historic Journeys in East Africa containing Rebmann's account of his first sighting of Kilimanjaro, and descriptions of New's two attempts to climb the mountain,

and Rowland Young (1962) Through Masailand with Joseph Thompson.

Extract ID: 4558
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