Who is Sidi Mubarak Bombay? 

You probably have not heard of him like you might have heard of David Livingstone, (The most popular British who explore Africa in the 19th century)   John Hanning Speke, ( A British explorer, he was first European to reach Lake Victoria) and Sir Richard Burton ( The British aristocrat and amateur hunter) They all had something in common, that’s to search for the source of the mysterious Nile river.

John Hanning Speke and David Livingstone made three different exploratory expeditions to Africa in a quest to discover the mystery behind the Nile. History has it that John Hanning Speke discovered the Nile source on August 3rd, 1858. But was the source truly found?

Sidi Mubarak Bombay

Sidi Mubarak Bombay was a hard-working young African, whom Burton referred to as “the gem of the group.” Bombay was a member of the Yao tribe who had been captured by Arab slave traders at the age of twelve, then sold in the Zanzibar slave market to an Arab merchant. He returned to Africa sometime in his early thirties after his owner’s death in the city of Bombay, he was given his freedom and adopted the name of his new hometown.

Sidi Mubarak Bombay joined the Sultan of Zanzibar’s army as a soldier and was posted to a garrison in Chokwe. That outpost seven miles from the Indian Ocean coastline was where Burton and Speke met up with the industrious, grinning African. Bombay and five other soldiers were hired to accompany the British caravan. Bombay’s work ethic and linguistic skills soon made him invaluable to Burton and Speke.  (Not love, but a duty to my belly make me work for you.) he said as he and others joined Burton and Speke on their quest.

After the discovering of Lake Tanganyika (An African Great Lake. It is the second-oldest freshwater lake in the world, the second-largest by volume, and the second-deepest) Speke found the Arabs repulsive and disliked Burton’s fondness for their clothing and customs, was impatient for a way to pass the time. In  July 1858 Speke took Bombay and a handful of porters to investigate the rumors of another great lake to the north leaving Burton behind.

Six weeks after leaving, he had not only found the rumored lake, naming the hill from where he’d seen it for the Somerset Region and  “Lake Nyanza” he named after  Queen Victoria (Lake Victoria)  On August 3, 1858, he was sure he had done so. He didn’t walk around the lake to make sure the Nile flowed from it, so he never actually saw the river. But Speke interviewed the local population and drew a map of the lake based on their opinions. Burton never agreed with Speke’s theory, he wrote, “before he announced to me the startling fact that he had discovered the sources of the Nile. The fortunate discoverer’s conviction was strong, but his reasoning was weak.” Speke’s HMS Furious arrived in England first. He raced to the Royal Geographical Society and pronounced himself the discoverer of the source. His claim was audacious and unproven, but the world was ready to believe that the source had been found.

Source of the Nile is a mystery 

Sidi Mubarak Bombay

He was the brain behind, David Livingstone, John Hanning Speke, Sir Henry Morton Stanley, and few others discovering, little or nothing about him was mention, and never allowed to visit England. He died in 1885 at the age of 65yrs, he was a great explorer.


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