King's College London
Online Exhibitions
I speak of Africa

The Niger

Portrait of John Lander, from: Richard and John Lander. Journal of an expedition to explore the course and termination of the Niger: with a narrative of a voyage down that river to its termination. London: John Murray, 1832 [FCO Historical Collection DT360 LAN]Portrait of John Lander, from: Richard and John Lander. Journal of an expedition to explore the course and termination of the Niger: with a narrative of a voyage down that river to its termination. London: John Murray, 1832 [FCO Historical Collection DT360 LAN]In January 1830 Richard Lander (1804-34) and his brother John (1806-39) set off on another government-sponsored expedition to discover the mouth of the Niger.

Richard had already taken part in an earlier Niger expedition (1825-7) as the servant of Captain Hugh Clapperton (1788-1827). This expedition had failed to solve the Niger question but had uncovered the fate of Mungo Park; he had been killed in 1806 at the falls of Bussa in an attack on his canoe.

After a short stop en route at Cape Coast Castle on the Guinea coast, Richard and John landed in Badagry on the Bight of Benin in March. From there they marched northwards overland to Bussa and then paddled down the river Niger in a leaky canoe, finally reaching the sea, thus proving that the river emptied in the Bight of Benin. Their journey had not been easy- they suffered from fever and were attacked by natives. In one attack they nearly lost their journals; in another they were taken prisoners. Nevertheless, seventeen months after their departure they returned to Britain via Brazil.

Richard Lander was the first person to be awarded a gold medal by the Royal Geographical Society and the Edinburgh Review called the Landers’ achievement ‘perhaps the most important geographical discovery of the present age’. Their journal, although not scientific, gives an unbiased view of what they saw, describing for the first time the states and inhabitants of the Niger valley and giving information about the relationships between the states and the interior trade routes.

ARCHIOS™ | Total time:1.2900 s | Source:database