Winston Churchill – one of Uganda’s early Tourists – 1907
The Story of Winston Churchill’s 1907 African Travels to Uganda
Winston Churchill’s 1907 African Travels to Uganda were by by Ship-Train-Boat-Bicycle-Auto-on Foot to and inside Uganda. He was a Tourist whose profound insight put Uganda, the Pearl of Africa, on the map for the many that followed.
He popularized Uganda as the Pearl of Africa without seeing one of its Chief Attractions-the the Mountain Gorillas found in Mgahinga Gorilla Park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
His book about his visit to Uganda, “My African Journey,” is still available today. We have it in our Gorilla Reads section for those that want a book about Uganda while on safari.
Winston Churchill’s visit to Uganda was not to promote Tourism by popularizing “the Pearl of Africa.” His trip was to see how England could benefit economically from Uganda, and he popularized “the Pearl of Africa.”
When he wrote “Concentrate on Uganda,” his intent was concerning Uganda’s wealth and resources, raw Materials that could benefit Britain. Ironically today, the slogan “Pearl of Africa” has been redeemed, instilling Pride in Ugandans, and raising curiosity in tourists all a result of Winston Churchill’s 1907 African Travels to Uganda.
Winston Churchill’s 1907 African Travels to Uganda
1901 was when the long-awaited Uganda Railroad line reached the Port Town of Kisumu along Lake Victoria on the Kenyan side of the Lake. Now the route from Mombasa to Kisumu- a journey that took months by foot could be done in days by rail.
Winston Churchill’s 1907 African Travels to Uganda: Winston Churchill was a 33-year-old member of Parliament in 1907 who had been appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies. Winston Churchill wanted to visit the British Protectorate of Uganda, which was still an unfamiliar Territory at that time resulting in Winston Churchill’s – 1907 African Travels to Uganda.
Upon arriving in Mombasa, he took the train from Mombasa to Kisumu and then crossed Lake Victoria by Steamer. He visited the then colonial capital of Entebbe.
He journeyed to Kampala and Mengo by rickshaw pulled by young men who were replaced every eight miles.
At Mengo, Churchill paid homage to the Kabaka at his palace at Lubiri. He met with the local chiefs in Buganda. The next day, he paid a visit to the young Kabaka Daudi Chwa II for the second time in two days, where a Ganda war dance was performed in his honor. He was presented with two spears and a shield as a gift.
There was no Owen’s Dam on the Nile in Jinja in those days. The Ripon Falls was where he left the modern transport of railway and steamboats, and he and his party trekked on foot for three days. He did this to bypass the Nile Rapids. Afterward, he and his party continued with Ugandan Canoes to Lake Kyoga, making it a five-day journey.
From there, he took a bicycle to the town of Masindi in northern Uganda, a trip that took five days. Today, the journey from Jinja to Masindi and on to Murchison Falls – today, that entire journey from Jinja to Murchison Falls would be a mere 7 hours. Still, it took Winston Churchill 13 days to reach the most powerful waterfall in the world.
Of those various means of transport, Winston Churchill wrote about the Bicycle “The best of all methods of progression in Central Africa is the bicycle…Had I known before coming to Uganda the advantages which this method presents…I should have been able to travel far more widely through the Country instead of merely journeying from one Great Lake to the other. Within the same limits of time, I could have explored Toro’s fertile and populous plateau, descended the beautiful valley of Semliki, traversed Albert Lake from to end, and skirted the slopes of Rwenzori. If youth but knew…! W.S. Churchill-My African Journey 1908.
Uganda so impressed Winston Churchill during his 1907 Safari that he wrote a book published in 1908 called “My African Journey,” a journey (safari) but not extravagant. It was Spartan compared to others before and after him.
The resulting “My African Journey” book was Uganda’s first significant media promotion about the wonders of Uganda. In it, he proclaimed
“For magnificence, for variety of form and color, for profusion of brilliant life — bird, insect, reptile, beast — for vast scale — Uganda is truly “the Pearl of Africa.”
The Kingdom of Uganda is a fairy tale. The scenery is different, the climate is different and most of all, the people are different from anything elsewhere to be seen in the whole range of Africa….what message I bring back….concentrate on Uganda.
Uganda is from end to end, a ‘beautiful garden’ where ‘staple food’ of the people grows almost without labour. Does it not sound like a paradise on earth? It is the Pearl of Africa.”
The path along Murchison Falls that Visitors hike up to the top of the falls. Winston Churchill took down and continued by boat along the Nile from Sudan to Khartoum through Uganda. However, it was Uganda that he fell in love with, and most visitors to Uganda still do.
“My African Journey” by Winston Churchill – though published in 1908 about Winston Churchill’s journey to Uganda – the Pearl of Africa of 1907 still is excellent reading in the 21st Century.
Our dream- “The Winston Churchill Trail.”
Winston Churchill’s 1907 African Travels to Uganda: It has been my dream – “the Winston Churchill-Pearl of Africa Trail beginning in Entebbe and ending somewhere near Pakwach on the Nile near Murchison Falls National Park.
In 2018 we created a Winston Churchill Pearl of Africa Trail Hiking Safari for twenty women from Toronto, Canada. It was a total success that took over one year to plan, and it took weeks of testing it for ourselves before we went primetime with twenty women from Canada.
We had everything in place, security, guides, rangers, and a nurse. We incorporated rafting, boating, and an escort vehicle, and it went off without a hitch.
They followed in the footsteps of Winston Churchill’s Safari, including time in Entebbe, Kampala. A boat ride to Jinja. He continued hiking along the Nile, across Lake Kyoga to Masindi and Murchison Falls, ten days in all.
The book “Winston Churchill’s – 1907 African Travels to Uganda” gives you historical insight and background to Uganda and its relationship as a protectorate rather than a colony to Britain. You can still find it on Amazon.com in the 21st Century.
In the 21st Century, travelers still discover the Pearl of Africa as Winston Churchill did and are amazed by their findings. We create Safaris that include following the Footsteps of Winston Churchill and contacting us about them.
Winston Churchills – a Man of His Time:
Winston Churchill’s visit to Uganda did not promote Tourism by popularizing “the Pearl of Africa.” His trip was to see how Britain could benefit economically from Uganda, and Uganda was a British Protectorate. Winston Churchill came to East Africa to Uganda as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies and not as an Ambassador of Tourism for Uganda. His book increased interest among Big Game Hunters, who subsequently visited Uganda.
The Pearl of Africa is used today to promote Tourism and Commerce might be a redemption of the term. However, the time was used to describe the wealth and riches of Uganda for exploitation. Today Uganda, the Pearl of Africa, has used a Tourist Slogan that shows why Uganda is a unique, one-of-a-kind African Safari Destination.
Winston Churchill saw Africa, Uganda, through the lenses of his time. The Western World saw Africans saw them erroneously as lesser to whites. The theory of Charles Darwin had become widespread. That theory taught Europeans white races to be evolutionary and more advanced than Blacks when Black Africans were famous, such as the Bronx Zoo in the US and Europe. Thank goodness the times have and are changing.
Today most Ugandans do not associate “the Pearl of Africa” with the British Colonial Era but as the slogan that describes the uniqueness of this Country. There is a sense of pride in living in the Pearl of Africa. They see it as a term that describes excellence, such as “the Pearl of Africa Hotel. Maybe it is part of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’ o’s decolonizing the African mind. Nevertheless, it is a slogan that we will always use at Kabiza Wilderness Safaris.
If you are interested in following the trail of Winston Churchill’s – 1907 African Travels to Uganda – we can create it for you…let us know.