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In February 1864 as Sir Samuel and Lady Florence Baker travelled from M’Rooli (near Masindi) southwards along the river Kafu, they must have passed close to the site of the present town of Hoima. They were weakened by fever but still determined to search for the source of the Nile. Samuel Baker describes their progress “The marsh, although deep, was so covered with thickly matted water-grass, that a natural floating bridge was established.

It was impossible to ride or to be carried over this treacherous surface; thus I led the way, and begged Mrs. Baker to follow me on foot. I looked back to see if my wife followed close to me, when I was horrified to see her standing in one spot, and sinking gradually through the weeds, while her face was distorted and perfectly purple. Almost as soon as I saw her, she fell, as though shot dead. In an instant I was by her side; and with the assistance of eight or ten of my men, I dragged her like a corpse through the yielding vegetation, and up to our waists we scrambled across to the other side, just keeping her head above the water.

She was laid gently upon her litter, and we started forward on our funeral course. I was ill and broken-hearted, and I followed by her side through the long day's march over wild parklands and streams, with thick forest and deep marshy bottoms; over undulating hills, and through valleys of tall papyrus rushes, which waved over the litter like the black plumes of a hearse. In her drawn and distorted features I could hardly trace the same face that for years had been my comfort through all the difficulties and dangers of my path. Was she to die? Was so terrible a sacrifice to be the result of my selfish exile?......

I was watching the first red streak that heralded the rising sun, when I was startled by the words, "Thank God," faintly uttered behind me. Suddenly she had awoke from her torpor, and with a heart overflowing I went to her bedside.” Florence was still delirious and weak but did not die. Incredibly they did not turn back but struggled on to the point where they finally saw the sight of the great Lake Albert, lying like a mirror before them. What courage and iron determination they had.

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