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In May 1863 Sir Samuel and Lady Florence climbed up from the Latooka plain to the high ground of Obbo. The Obbo chief Katchiba gave them a great welcome commencing with a dance. Sir Samuel writes “About a hundred men formed a circle; each man held in his left hand a small cup-shaped drum, formed of hollowed wood, one end only being perforated, and this was covered with the skin of the elephant's ear, tightly stretched. In the centre of the circle was the chief dancer, who wore, suspended from his shoulders, an immense drum, also covered with the elephant's ear. The dance commenced by all singing remarkably well a wild but agreeable tune in chorus, the big drum directing the time, and the whole of the little drums striking at certain periods with such admirable precision, that the effect was that of a single instrument. The dancing was most vigorous, and far superior to anything that I had seen.” During their long stay in the Obbo region, Chief Katchiba became a firm friend of the Bakers. Sir Samuel writes:

“Now, Chief Katchiba was not a good walker, and his usual way of travelling was upon the back of a very strong subject, precisely as children are wont to ride "pic-a-back." He generally had two or three spare men, who alternately acted as guides and ponies, while one of his wives invariably accompanied him, bearing a large jar of beer, with which it was said that the old chief refreshed himself so copiously during the journey, that it sometimes became necessary for two men to carry him instead of one!”

Sir Samuel so trusted the wise old chief that he left Lady Baker in his care to go off on hunting expeditions . Returning “I found my wife looking remarkably well, and regularly installed at home. Several fat sheep were tied by the legs to pegs in front of the hut; a number of fowls were pecking around the entrance, and my wife awaited me on the threshold with a large pumpkin shell containing about a gallon of local beer.” Sir Samuel was delighted, especially after a journey of 30 miles in the boiling sun. The rains and the flooded rivers had prevented their progress south but by early January it was reported that the river Assua was passable and so they set off again.


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