J.F. Elton

Born 1840

Dies 1877

ELTON, J[ames] Frederic

Name ID 160

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Extract Author: Dr Brendan Whyte
Extract Date: 2004

Review of book about Keith Johnston

Undaunted by this [Paraguayan] misadventure, in 1878 Keith managed to secure the leadership of what would be the last R.G.S.-sponsored African expedition, an attempt to discover a viable route for a road from the East African coast inland to the great African lakes. Captain James Frederick Elton, the vice-consul at Zanzibar from 1873, had set out on a similar mission, but had died on the return leg of his expedition to Lake Nyasa in 1877. Keith was to be accompanied by the 21-year-old Joseph Thompson, but the two did not get on, Keith's quiet scientific intelligence exasperated by his companion's gung-ho attitude.

After spending time in Aden, and then several months in Zanzibar outfitting the expedition, Keith and Thompson set off from Dar Es Salaam on 19 May 1879. On 28 June, only 40 days later, and less than 150 km from Dar Es Salaam, Keith was dead from dysentery, leaving the 150-man expedition in the hands of the bewildered 21-year-old Thompson. Thompson, subsequently the first European to traverse Masailand, went on to become an African explorer to rank with Livingstone and Stanley, even though he also died young, at 37. Keith Johnston meanwhile has been almost forgotten.

Extract ID: 5545

See also

Tanganyika Guide
Page Number: 49
Extract Date: 1953

Section IIIóDodoma to Tabora

Dodoma is situated near the watershed of the Indian Ocean and the Rift Valley. The great trough of the Rift, with its salt lakes and its large and small volcanoes, intersects the East African granite-plateau from latitude 6 deg. South, and then continues northwards through the Red Sea into the valley of the Dead Sea and the River Jordan, right to the foot of the Lebanon. The Central Railway cuts this rift near its southern end and, as the train crawls up the steep western scarp, a grand view unfolds itself, and like a gigantic map the valley lies below with the glittering surface of a great salt swamp in its southernmost corner. In the vicinity of Manyoni, on the top of the scarp, is the grave of the explorer James Elton, one of the first Englishmen to cross the interior. He died in 1877. Manyoni was the junction for the Singida railway line, which has how been taken up and replaced by a road from Itigi.

From near the upper edge of the scarp to Tabora and again for a long distance west of that town, the track passes through miles of wilderness into fine agricultural country. At kilometre 634 is a stone monument indicating the highest point of the line (4,350 ft.), and at kilometre 785 in flat country comes the Continental Divide, to the west of which water flows into Lake Tanganyika and thus, through the Congo, into the Atlantic.

At last there is a welcome change from thicket and wood into the open country surrounding Tabora, and soon the town itself, surrounded by granite hills and mango groves, is reached. It is the capital of the Nyamwezi country and, as the place where one of the largest and most industrious Bantu tribes is administered, continues the part it has for long played in East African history. Founded as an Arab colony for securing the long line of communication from the coast to the great lakes, the town is full of links with the past, and the tourist can see here the old " tembe " at Kwihara where Livingstone and Stanley lived together in 1872, the pass between two hills where they parted, or again the battle grounds where first Nyamwezi chiefs and Arabs, then Germans and Belgians have fought for the possession of this country. At Tabora is situated the leading Government school for Africans in the Territory.

As Tabora is at the junction of the Mwanza Line, it is on one of the through routes from Kenya and Uganda to the Congo and Northern Rhodesia ; it is also on one of the trunk air routes to South Africa, and travellers stop the night at the spacious German-built hotel which has recently been modernised.

Extract ID: 5539

See also

Elton, J.F. Travels and Research Among the Lakes and Mountains of Eastern and Central Africa

An artist could find genial occupation for years; . . .

An artist could find genial occupation for years; but your matter-of-fact British Tourist would vote the place slow, and sigh for a future of broad streets and civilisation, broad cloth, bottled beer and blacking .... from such revilers of the picturesque I trust a kindly Providence may long deliver the quaint, queer rambling old Arab town of Zanzibar.

reference in Mark Turner, FT 8 May 99 article about Zanzibar

Extract ID: 218
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