8 – Second Expedition

Stanley introduces his second famous expedition across the continent of Africa in the following words:

“While returning to England in April of ’74, from the Ashantee War, the news reached me that Livingstone was dead – that his body was on the way back to England!  Livingstone had then fallen!  He was dead!  He had died by the shores of Lake Bemba, on the threshold of the dark region he wished to explore!  The work he had promised to perform was only begun when death overtook him.  The effect which this news had upon me, after the first shock had passed away, was to fire me with a resolution to complete his work, to be, if God willed it, the next martyr to geographical science, or, if my life was to be spared, to clear up not only the secrets of the Great River throughout its course, but also all that remained still problematic and incomplete of the discoveries of Burton and Speke, and Speke and Grant.

The solemn day of the burial of the body of my great friend arrived.  I was one of the pall-bearers in Westminster Abbey, and when I had seen the coffin lowered into the grave, and had heard the first handful of earth thrown over it, I walked away sorrowing over the fate of  David Livingstone.”

One day, strolling into the office of the London Daily Telegraph, Stanley engaged its proprietors in conversation on his favorite subject, and before leaving they asked him how he would like to complete the labors left unfinished by Livingstone.  The inquiry added fresh fuel to his most ardent desire and the result was an arrangement between the proprietors of the Telegraph and the New York Herald by which he was commissioned to undertake an exploration of Central Africa with the special view of finding the Nile’s source. 

The preliminaries were soon agreed upon and Stanley made his departure as quickly as possible.  Applications poured in to him from the adventure-loving people in Europe and America, begging permission to join the expedition.  In the end, though, he only chose three young Englishmen – John and Edward Pocock and Frederick Barker.  He was more liberal in selecting dogs, as he selected four – a mastiff, retriever, bull-terrier, and a bull-dog.

There was no lack of money at Stanley’s disposal, and his expedition was equipped with everything that he might possibly have needed.  When he set sail on the 15th of August, 1874, for Zanzibar, he was better prepared for the work before him than any of the previous expeditions had been that went into Africa.  He arrived at Zanzibar on the 21st of September.  By November 12th, he had engaged more than 200 carriers and the expedition set sail for Bagamoyo.  When ready to start for the interior, the expedition comprised 356 people.  Among them were 36 women, and when they started out of Bagamoyo on the 17th of November, they formed a line a half a mile in length. 

Among the heaviest articles they had was a boat named Lady Alice.  She was 40 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 30 inches deep.  It was made in 12 sections, and afterward cut into as many more, so that they could carry it easier. 

Death of Edward Pocock

The band was progressing nicely in their travels until January 17th, 1875.  Edward Pocock died of typhus fever after a short illness.  This terrible thing was intensified in its sadness by the facts connected with his enlistment in the party.  Pocock possessed a grand ambition to unite his name with discoveries that would benefit mankind.  He had left England with his mother’s blessing to share the hardships and trials of the expedition across the dark continent of Africa.  Even though he was in the wilds of Africa, he had a Christian burial, and his brother and loving companions laid their tributes on his grave.  He was buried by the foot of a large tree on which was cut the emblem of his faith, a cross, and there he rests, under the moving shadows of the swaying branches.

On The Victoria Lake

Upon reaching a village situated nearly midway between Bagamoyo and Ujiji, Stanley left the route by which he had previously traveled and took a due north course, by which he reached Victoria Lake on February 28th.  The camping place was at a village called Kagehyi, where provisions were plentiful enough but not obtainable except at a high price.  This was the place where Speke first viewed the lake, and his stay there served to give the natives an idea of values, and made Stanley a victim to their extortions.  Unpleasant things had to be endured, though, and it was important that the friendship of Prince Kaduma, who ruled that country, should be secured.

On the second day after the arrival the Lady Alice was prepared for sea, with Stanley being determined to circumnavigate the lake.  Kaduma declared the lake was so large that it would require years to cross it.  He also said that along its shores lived tribes so ferocious that no stranger dared approach them.  He said that some of the people had tails, others trained enormous and fierce dogs, while others preferred human flesh to all other kinds of meat.  These superstitious sayings had such an effect on Stanley’s men that not one of them came forward when he called for volunteers to accompany him on the voyage.    Because of that he was compelled to hire ten young guides at Bagamoyo who were boatmen, and on March 8th the lake voyage was begun. 

They saw many interesting sights, but incidents of adventure were few.  Hippopotami, crocodiles, and monitors, were abundant along the shores.  A monitor is a species of lizard that accompanies the crocodile and gives it a warning of approaching danger.  In this respect it is the crocodile’s friend, but the friendship is an interesting one, for the monitor almost totally lives on crocodile eggs.  Stanley shot one of these singular and rare animals and it measured seven feet in length.

On the 21st of March they landed at an island that had many natural wonders on it.  Among them was a natural bridge of basaltic rock, which formed an irregular arch about 24 feet in length by 12 feet in depth.  They were able to pass under it from one side of the island to the other.  Another island near it contained a grotto like that in which Calypso lived, and still another resembled the Sphynx of Egypt. 

Encounter with Wild Natives

The shores of the lake were thickly populated, with there being village after village in continuity.  Generally the people were friendly, but occasionally there were hostile parties that resisted the attempts to dock the boats among them.  They finally reached a bay in the northeast corner of the lake, and met a people that spoke the Usoga tongue who were very  kind and generous.  They freely supplied Stanley with sheep and vegetables in exchange for blue beads.  They were entirely naked except that some of the women wore a kirtle of green banana leaves. 

About five hours after leaving these friendly people, a storm arose so fierce as to compel them to go into a small cove in an island.  Right after they anchored there, boats started coming out from the island.  They seemed to be intoxicated, and came with their canoes and started rowing all around their boat in a really menacing manner.  They came closer and closer until they got quite close to the boat and start pointing their spears at them.  The situation grew so severe that Stanley had to eventually fire his gun into the water.  They started to scatter, but the interpreter told them that all he was trying to do was show them that they had weapons also.  They eventually got them to come back and they were much friendlier.  Stanley just had to let them know that they couldn’t just run over his party and hurt them.

A few days later they were moving under a swift breeze.  The natives hailed Stanley’s boat from the shore, and appeared to be very friendly.  Immediately after they landed, though, their party was attacked with stones.  They badly wounded one of the oarsmen, and ran to the boat and seized the oats and started going through their provisions.  Stanley had to act quick and seized his gun and fired over their heads.  This alarmed them and they ran off and gave up the fight. 

A King’s Invitation

On the 2nd of April the party proceeded in a happy mood along the beautiful shore until the village of Kerudo was reached.  There they were received with much hospitality, and the King of Uganda was notified by messengers of the white man’s approach.  The party was about to depart the next morning when six beautiful canoes crowded with men dressed in white approached them.  They were the king’s messengers carrying an invitation from the king and wanting Stanley to pay him a visit. 

The messenger was gorgeously arrayed for the important occasion.  He wore a bead-worked head-dress, above which long white cock’s feathers waved, and a snowy white and long-haired goat-skin, intertwined with a crimson robe, depending from his shoulders, completed his costume.  Approaching Stanley, he delivered his message thus:

“The Kabaka sends me with many salaams to you.  He is in great hopes that you will visit him, and has encamped at Usavara, that he may be near the lake when you come.  He does not know from what land you have come, but I have a swift messenger with a canoe who will not stop until he gives all the news to the Kabaka.  His mother dreamed a dream a few nights ago, and in her dream she saw a white man on this lake in a boat, coming this way, and the next morning she told the Kabaka, and, lo! you have come.  Give me your answer, that I may send the messenger.  Twiyanzi – yanzi-yanzi!”  (Thanks, thanks, thanks)

The messenger named Magassa, implored Stanley to please remain one day longer so he could be shown the hospitalities of this wonderful country, and prepare him for a grand reception by the king.  Stanley consented to do this.

Magassa was in his glory now.  His voice became imperious to his escort of 182 men, and the feathers of his curious headdress waved proud, with his robe sweeping with the dignity worthy of a Roman emperor’s.  He ordered his men to bring out bullocks, sheep, goats, milk, and the mellowest and choicest bananas.  He wanted to make a feast for the white man so that he could taste all the wonderful things that Uganda had to offer.  They wanted to show Stanley kindness that was greater than any of the other tribes had shown him.

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About Cathy Deaton


My name is Cathy Deaton, Owner of Fan the Flame Ministries. God has radically changed my life, and He has shown me that I am to share the awesome things I am learning especially with the Millennial Generation (1981 – 1996), but I love connecting with Christians of all ages. I have found that the Holy Spirit is an awesome teacher when I listen to, obey, and apply what He teaches to my life. You truly can make a difference for God in an uncertain world.