19th-century Europeans ventured into the African interior from a mixture of motives: trailblazers for colonization, Christian missionary work, scientific research, or – in Henry Morton Stanley’s search for Dr Livingstone – a journalist’s desire for the ultimate scoop. Alfred Grandidier was more altrusitic, exploring South America before falling in love with Madagascar. He painstakingly detailed its ethnography: a blind snake and rare turquoise gem, Grandidierite were named after him. The Germans, Barth and Nachtigal, both did ‘Livingstones’, disappearing for years in the heart of Saharan Africa. Schweinfurth confirmed the existence of pygmies and contacted the harp-playing, cannibalistic Mangbetu tribe in the Congo. Da Silva Porto was a trader who travelled widely from his Benguela base: he wrapped himself in a Portuguese flag and blew himself up with dynamite in protest against British imperialism. Speke won the race to find the source of the Nile (1862), but for sheer doggedness and mileage, Livingstone was peerless.
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