Ugandan History | Henry Morton Stanley and Uganda ‘Pearl of Africa’

Posted January 9, 2011 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Featured ~ 6,661 views


By Jonathan Musere | The original reference to Uganda as the “Pearl of Africa” seems to have began being strongly attributed to Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill during the past three to four decades in Uganda. In reality, the

“Pearl” that the world most significantly associates Spencer-Churchill with, is Pearl Harbor. A handful of literature displays that Spencer-Churchill did refer to Uganda as “Africa’s pearl.” But he certainly was not the origin of the term “Pearl of Africa,” one which may even have been uttered before Churchill was born. Churchill was born in 1874.

The late 19th Century and early 20th Century colonial literature overwhelmingly attributes Uganda ‘the Pearl of Africa’ to Henry Morton Stanley. Many consider Stanley the most significant early explorer of Africa. Stanley chronicled his extensive journeys and observations in remarkable detail. It would seem that Churchill, who did not traverse Africa as extensively as Churchill, actually borrowed a lot of what he wrote on Uganda from Henry Stanley.

A handful of quotations fuel the evidence on Henry Morton Stanley.

James Home Morrison (page 171) writes : “On November 15, 1875, a remarkable letter appeared in the Daily Telegraph. …written by Stanley in Uganda. …Stanley speaks of Uganda as ‘the Pearl of Africa’ (in The Missionary Heroes of Africa, Negro Universities Press, 1922).

In the article, “Uganda” in Proceedings of the Royal Colonial Institute, Volume 25 Captain W. H. Williams states, “…their descriptions…led to…Uganda being looked upon as a…fairyland. …is it any wonder that England came to think that the Pearl of Africa was a jewel of great price? (1894: 105).

George S. Mackenzie, on page 23, states: “‘The Pearl of Africa,’ as Uganda has been…named by Mr Stanley…first brought to notice in Europe by the celebrated travelers Speke and Grant” (“The Troubles of Uganda,” in Fortnightly Review, Volume 52, 1892).

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