Friday January 18 2013

Explorer’s descendant in Uganda

By John K. Abimanyi

A century-and-a-half ago, a heavily-bearded British man and his wife, started off on a journey from Khartoum in Sudan, down along the Nile, in search for the river’s source.

That man, a hunter, explorer, colonial-rule agent and abolitionist, was Sir Samuel Baker.

By the time Baker was done with Africa, he had divided opinion and came to be known as the man who introduced Uganda’s geographical wares to the world, as well as the man who helped run a reign of terror in parts of Bunyoro-Kitara, especially against Omukama Kabalega and his son Kamurasi.

Today, however, that man’s great-great grandson, 73-year-old David Baker, visits Uganda in an attempt to retrace his ancestor’s footsteps.

Mr Baker travels to Murchison Falls National Park, in an expedition that will see him visit Baker’s View, the spot where his great-great grandfather stood when he named Lake Albert.

He will also move by boat to the bottom of the Murchison Falls, where he will view the falls for the first time.

Revisiting history
Mr Baker visits Uganda as part of the Great African Expedition, organised by Julian Monroe Fisher from the National Geographic.

“Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Ministry of Tourism are pleased to host such a prominent personality, and all efforts will go into making his stay memorable and eventful,” reads a press release issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority’s spokesperson, Ms Lillian Nsubuga.

Sir Samuel Baker was wrongly credited as the man who discovered Lake Albert, and yet there were native Ugandans who lived off the lake for transport, water and fish, long before he entertained the thought of wandering into Africa.

He is, however, credited for naming the Murchison Falls and Lake Albert, and these have stood to this day.

His legacy lives on in Uganda, through the Sir Samuel Baker College in Gulu, a school his descendant will also visit.