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date: 28 November 2020

Speke, John Hanning locked

1827–1864 British explorer who was the first European to discover the correct source of the Nile River.
  • Ari Nave


Born in Bideford, Devon, England, John Hanning Speke began serving in the British Indian Army at age seventeen. After serving in Punjab, he explored the Himalayas and then took a leave from the army to hunt in Africa.

In 1855 Speke accompanied explorer Richard Burton to Somaliland (present-day Somalia). When their party was attacked by Somalis, Burton was wounded and Speke was captured and stabbed eleven times, bringing the expedition to an abrupt end. In 1856 the two men met again in Zanzibar and headed for the Great Lakes region of East Africa, determined to find the source of the Nile River.

By the time they reached Lake Tanganyika in February 1858 Burton was too ill to continue so Speke although also sick went on alone He arrived in July on the shores of Ukerewe a vast body of water that he renamed Lake Victoria When local inhabitants told ...

A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.

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