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In January 1864 Sir Samuel and Lady Florence Baker travelled from Fort Patiko southwards towards Gulu and the Karuma Falls on their arduous journey in their search for Lake Albert, one of the main sources of the river Nile. Samuel Baker wrote “There was no wood for fires, neither dung of animals; thus without fuel we went supperless to bed. Although the sun was painfully hot during the day, the nights were so cold that we could hardly sleep. For two days we marched through high dry grass, (about ten feet). On the following day our guide lost the track; a large herd of elephants had obscured it by trampling hundreds of paths in all directions. I led the way on foot from the hour we left Patiko as the men had more faith in my steering by the compass than they had in the local guide.” There is no record in Samuel Baker’s writing of a place called Gulu but we know from the route that he recorded so carefully that he must have passed very close by where you now stand.

Later, in March 1872, Samuel described the barbaric behaviour of the slavers in this area, who not only were merciless in treatment of those they captured, but also destroyed the vast herds of cattle on which people lived. “The treacherous ruffian gave an order to his brigands at sunset. They were to be under arms an hour before daybreak on the following morning, to set fire to the adjacent villages of their generous hosts, and to capture their large herds of cattle, together with their women and children…… It must be remembered that at least a thousand, and sometimes double that number of slaves, are prisoners in each station along the Nile. All these must be fed; not only oxen, but all the breeding cows and young calves are killed without the slightest reflection. No country can support such wilful waste; thus after many years of ravage, this beautiful province has become almost barren of cattle.”

As they overcame the slavers, Sir Samuel and Lady Florence Baker freed the slaves, grew crops and protected the cattle but lasting damage had been done by this evil trade in human beings. It was a terrible time which sadly has been repeated by evil people again and again in this beautiful land.

The Sir Samuel and Lady Florence Baker Historical Trail is supported by the following partners:

For further information contact:
Julian Monroe Fisher FRGS FI'00


copyright Julian Monroe Fisher 2013-2016