"The native tongue abounds very much with liquids."
Translating Mungo Park into a Dream Edition

© Pekka Masonen

"Let us pity the white man!"
Mungo Park sleeping near Segu, 20.7.1796.

These musings are meant for those who are seriously interested in the topic. I only ask you to respect my copyright and follow the good academic manners as they were understood in the past (now irreversibly lost and forgotten). That is, you indicate your source honestly with a proper reference. You may quote the text freely, but I wish you could tell me if you intend to do so; just to satisfy my own curiosity. Notes at the end. Contact: kittekan (at) outlook.com

* * * * *

I first contemplated the idea of translating Mungo Park's Travels in the late 1990s, but I did nothing as I was occupied with my doctoral thesis.[1] Yet I did not give up the idea either. After my academic career ended in December 2012, I was free to focus on things I wanted to do, rather than on things I had to do. I began the translation, but I made the mistake of starting from the first page - and I was disheartened almost immediately. The author's preface is stylistically perhaps the most complicated part of the book. Even if the language represents conventional modern English, the Georgian mannerisms and the author's flourishingly meandering sentences are challenging to a reader who is not a native speaker, together with the old-fashioned grammatical structures and now obsolete expressions.[2}

For the third time, I endeavoured to approach the task in January 2021. Now I had a vision: instead of translating the text literally, I should convey to the reader Mungo Park's message, "the credo of human understanding", as it was once defined by E.A. Ayandele.[3] Thus I edited the original text into a more straightforward and readable narrative, without, however, rendering it falsely anachronistic according to the standards of our own day. Sometimes I had to use shortcuts and omit such minor details which I considered irrelevant or which I could not include in the narrative without blurring the flow. Hence my translation can be labelled an impressionistic interpretation. This time I was "driven by the Devil" - to quote Richard Francis Burton - and I terminated my project by the end of December. The translation came out, as a vanity publication, on 2 February 2022 bearing the title [translated in English]: Travels in the Heart of Africa. Mungo Park's two mission to the Niger in 1795-97 and 1805, according to his own words. Accompanied with Amadi Fatouma's testimony of Mungo Park's death and other documents. Translated into Finnish with a biographical introduction and commentary by [yours truly].[4]

But why in Finnish? Probably for the same reason as Tetsuro Morimoto prepared a Japanese translation[5] and Michał Kozłowski a Polish translation[6], which are usually neglected by those who otherwise remember to mention the partial Hausa translation.[7] No other exotic editions exist, to my knowledge.[8] Though numerous reprints of the Travels are being published continuously - and nowadays the first edition of 1799 is easily available online (e.g. Internet Archive) - they do not necessarily reach the general public; particularly those who do not regularly read in English.[9] And most readers prefer their own language when reading foreign books, if a translation exists (or if they do not know the original language). The choice of language also defined my audience. Instead of the few serious-minded Africanists in my country, my translation is primarily aimed toward readers who may not be well acquainted with the Mande peoples, or the culture and ideologies of late eighteenth century Europe, or the history of European voyages of exploration - but they are intelligent and keen on widening their understanding by learning new things.

From the beginning I understood that a mere translation would be pointless. It should include an erudite commentary which explains to the reader the reliability of Mungo Park's observations, the nature of his opinions, and many other details in the book. Here I must emphasize my profound surprise when I realized that despite his well-established fame, great popularity, and the widespread scholarly interest in his Travels amongst the Africanists and literary critics, there exists no critical edition in any language! The closest one is the edition prepared by Kate Ferguson Marsters and published by Duke University Press in 2000. Unlike most modern reprints, which are often mere facsimile copies of the Victorian editions, Marsters' edition includes the appendices of the first edition of 1799: list of the subscribers[10], the Mandingo vocabulary, and James Rennell's geographical elucidations. Marsters has also added some explanatory footnotes, albeit sparingly.[11] I managed to attach 432 endnotes to the Travels; 158 to the Journal; 32 to Amadi Fatouma's testimony; and 39 to the 'documents'. In this respect, I dare to claim that my edition is unique - though I do not dare to claim that it is the best and most definitive one, nor do I want to pretend to be any sort of authority on the subject.

My decision to produce a critical edition sets my choice of language to a new light. Writing in Finnish means that my commentary is incomprehensible to those international readers who might be interested in my remarks and suggestions. From this point of view, my translation may appear as sensible as "casting pearls before swine". On the other hand, if I had written in English and published my edition abroad, it would now be inaccessible to most readers in my own country. This dilemma affects all those scholars who represent minor languages, although the choice is not always either/or but it can also be, successfully, both/and, as I did in the past. Yet my decision was easy. I do not have such a position or reputation that I could have sold my project to any respectable international publisher, nor have I the necessary resources to carry out serious research over a lengthy time (and no interest at all in publishing an e-book by myself). The outcome become a 'Dream Edition': a book I have always wanted to read, but nobody has ever written it, and thus I had to write it myself [for myself]. I can only hope that my example would encourage those who are better qualified for the task to produce, in English, a comprehensive critical edition of Mungo Park's works, both the Travels and the Journal, and I am content if I am referred to, even passingly, in the preface, in a footnote.

My decision to aim my translation toward the general public naturally defined the contents of my commentary, too. Members of the Mande Studies Association hardly need any explanation for words like fùnɛ, boubou, Guinea worm, or tifinagh[12]; but a non-specialist Finnish reader may not necessarily know what kind of a disease yaws is, or what is the "caste" system among the Mande peoples, or the interesting usage of the word "hundred" [kɛ̀mɛ] in the Bambara language. Also, some of my remarks are culturally dependent. An international reader hardly gets the point when I discuss how the reference to "chameleon's dish" in Shakespeare's Hamlet has been translated in the various Finnish editions of the play [see Travels, 9 September 1796] - but they might find my comparison of "Mandingo" healing practices [Travels, chapter 21] to the Finnish sauna culture interesting.

My commentary focuses on the following three general subject areas.

The first is geography. I wanted to trace Mungo Park's routes, both the first and second journey, on the modern map as exactly as possible. Many of the places he visited are still found rather easily; some require more thorough detective work; while some have simply disappeared a long time ago.[13] His orthography, which is based on English pronunciation, is occasionally problematic, if one is not accustomed to it. I admit that it took a while until I realized that his "Shrilla" is, most likely, present-day Serhelo and "Wawra" present-day Boula. My approach was the same as the nineteenth-century armchair geographers: all my 'elucidations' are based on maps which happened to be available to me, either in print or online, and they were not always the most accurate ones. Considering Park's first journey, I managed to identify perhaps two-thirds of his toponyms in a satisfactory way, though errors are possible; the second journey is more difficult in this respect. There is still room for further study - and if someone can tell me where in the western Sahara is "Zeeriwin-zeriman", I'll buy a drink and more. Here I want to introduce one of my identifications which may have some importance. As Peter Hudson has already suggested, "Simbing" whence Major Houghton sent his last message (dated on 1 September 1791), is not the present Simbi (in Cercle de Nioro du Sahel), though the names match.[14] I suggest that Houghton's "Simbing" is a village called Guinbané, about 10 km from Folongkidé Diawambé to the east-northeast.

The second is language. I have always pondered the question of how well Mungo Park was able to communicate with the Africans he met and whether the African words and expressions in his Travels are correct. My suspicion was once aroused by Maria Grosz-Ngaté's paper, published in 1988, in which she expressed her doubts.[15] The question is justified. Mungo Park arrived in Pisania on 5 July 1795. He realized immediately that he couldn't succeed in his task without being able to speak the language: "My first object was to learn Mandingo tongue, being the language in almost general use throughout this part of Africa." His "Mandingo" actually stands for Gambian Mandinka. As he confesses, he did not master other local languages (e.g. Wolof, Fulani, Soninke); nor Arabic, though he tried to learn it during his captivity amongst the Moors in "Benown" [Binoué] and "Bubaker" [Awkar?].[16] He tells nothing about his method of studying, except that he was assisted by his host Dr John Laidley, a 'gentleman' (slave trader) who had spent several years in the Gambia and knew well the inhabitants and their language. Yet we may assume that Laidley was busily occupied with his own affairs and could hardly offer regular lessons to his guest. Then who was his daily instructor? He also mentions two brothers called Ainsley who were living in Pisania. From other sources we know that one of them, Robert Ainsley, had an African chère amie.[17] She bore him at least a son, Robert Ainsley Jr, who later inherited his father's businesses in the Gambia.[18] Moreover, Mungo Park was ill, "bedridden", for the most of August and September. Truly, how fluently was he able to adopt a foreign language in four months, before he started his journey to the interior on 2 December 1795? Even today it would be a remarkable achievement to learn a new language, at a conversational level, in such a short time.

According to his own words, he was dependent on his interpreter Johnson during the first leg of his journey (until he was captured by the Moors), who often spoke on his behalf, at least to the local potentates.[19] After he managed to flee from his captivity, he was, however, on his own. He had to communicate with the people he met, in order to survive, and this situation must have motivated him to improve his linguistic skills. On the other hand, he was constantly on the move; he hardly spent more than an evening in one place; his occasional travel companions changed all the time; he was tired, hungry, and ill. How on earth he was able to widen his vocabulary and grammar in these circumstances?

I do not suggest that there is something untrue in his Travels. His narrative contains plenty of accurate and detailed information he must have derived from local people on the spot. He evidently could speak with them, even of complicated subjects, but I still doubt whether the conversation was always as eloquent as he lets the reader assume.

I am not a linguist and, therefore, I had to rely on dictionaries - the online BAMADABA for Bambara and David P. Gamble's dictionary for Gambian Mandinka[20] - and on experts who know the Mande languages and they kindly confirmed to me that in general the African words and expressions mentioned in Mungo Park's Travels are sensible and his translations are basically correct, if not always literal. My commentary includes the modern spelling, together with an explanation for the meaning, if necessary, and for the origin of the word, if I was able to trace it. There is, however, still room for a more detailed study and I hope some linguistic will undertake the task of analyzing all of Mungo Park's African words and expressions, including the "Mandingo" vocabulary.

When reading the Travels, one should always bear in mind that it was written afterwards, in Britain. It is not an eyewitness report taken down immediately on the spot. This does not compromise Mungo Park's credibility: the book describes an actual journey to the Niger and back. However, all its content is not based on the author's personal experiences and observations.[21] He relies much on earlier written sources, above all on Francis Moore[22], to whom he refers by name, but certainly on many other writers, too. I have not come across any paper which would discuss in detail his literary sources and their impact, and I could not carry out such a study myself at this stage. Also, all things did not necessary happen in that order and sequence as they are related in the narrative,[23] and the chronology is somewhat inconsistent.[24] The author certainly left much out of his narrative[25] - but he also added much afterwards. Since his original notes are long lost,[26] it is now impossible to identify his omissions and modifications.

We do not know what Mungo Park was like as a note taker, but he was certainly not as meticulous as Heinrich Barth. He refers to his notes a few times in the Travels, stressing their importance, as if to reassure the reader that he is a professional explorer, though he never explains how and when he took down his notes. All we know is that he kept his notes in the crown of his famous hat - and I wonder how thick a bundle of paper it could accommodate. There are some unanswered, practical questions concerning his notes. According to his own words, the Moors took all his valuables, scientific instruments (save a pocket compass he hid in his hut), and cloths. If so, where did he get paper for his notes? Paper was a valuable commodity in the interior of Western Africa, and I doubt that the Moorish "bushreens" would have left him even a single sheet, had they found his stock. How did he write? Did he use a pencil? If not, how did he obtain ink, if he had nothing with which to buy food and fodder? On the other hand, he hardly relied on his memory only when writing the Travels. He certainly made some sort of notes - perhaps dates, placenames, and keywords - but there are also such passages in his Travels which suggest that he could not always decipher his own notes afterwards, nor remember correctly (e.g. his passage from Sibi to "Wonda", on 28 August 1796).

The third subject area of my commentary consists of my general remarks, in which I try to contextualize Mungo Park's observations, experiences, and opinions. It seems to me that the literary critics, who nowadays dominate the study on European travel literature, make too often the mistake of focusing only on the few canonized texts. Moreover, they usually neglect the author's personality and the contemporary historical, cultural, and ideological context, in order to promote their own theories and personal virtues.[27] But if the research always focuses on the same works and the same questions are always asked of them with predictable reliability, what is the significance and applicability of such research? So far, I have not seen any scholarly paper which analyzes the works of Eugène Mage, Oskar Lenz, or Carlo Piaggia, as specimens of the discourse of the 'European colonial project', nor are they ever mentioned even in the footnotes. This shortcoming concerns particularly the papers written on Mungo Park and published since the 1980s. Few, if any, of the critics bother to make any comparative allusions to the works of the earlier, contemporary, or later explorers who describe the same geographical area or the same peoples. However, if Mungo Park's experiences and opinions are set in the relevant context, they do not appear so unique or startling, but rather typical and ordinary. I found the almost contemporary William Gray's Travels in Western Africa[28] as a particularly useful reference work in this respect; as well as accounts by the French explorers and travelers who visited the Soudan occidental before the colonial conquest; for instance, the less famous Paul Soleillet.[29]

As Gary Westfahl expressed the same idea - though his subject is entirely different, his remarks make sense if we replace 'science fiction' with 'travel literature' (italics original):[30]

"Truly, if critics really wish to improve their understanding of literature, they require not new theories, but new data; and in literature, new data mean new texts. In reference to science fiction in particular, we badly delude ourselves if we believe that brilliant new insights can emerge from rereading after rereading of Stanislaw Lem, Ursula K. Le Guin, or William Gibson, no matter how admirable those authors are; rather, we risk becoming like those nineteenth-century astronomers who stared so hard at Mars through inadequate telescopes that they began to believe they were seeing canals."

Here I offer two examples to demonstrate the problems of this narrow and text-focused approach.

When describing the way in which the "Mandingoes" calculate their time [chapter 21], Mungo Park says that they have no specific calendar and years are counted by the number of rainy seasons. Individual years are identified by naming them according to the important events "and I have no doubt that the year 1796 will in many places be distinguished by the name Tobaubo tambi sang, 'the year the white man passed;' as such an occurrence would naturally form an epoch in their traditional history."

Mungo Park's remark may, at first glance, appear as self-centered and typically 'Eurocentric', according to which the 'white man' is always the star of the stage.[31] However, those who are familiar with the nineteenth-century European travel accounts of Western Africa, should know better: Mungo Park is simply stating a fact. Even if most Africans could not fathom the motives of the explorers - "Whenever I spoke of the Niger, or my anxiety to see it, they asked me if there were no rivers in the country (we say) we inhabit?", as William Gray put it[32] - it does not mean that Africans were indifferent to the explorers, nor that they were stupid. The strangers were noticed, and Africans were interested in them. Mungo Park crossed the Atlantic in the autumn of 1797 on board an American slaver bound for Charleston (but abandoned in Antigua as unseaworthy). According to him, there were two men among the slaves who had seen him, while he was in Bundu in December 1795, and many had heard of him. When Heinrich Barth was in Bornu and Hausaland, he encountered several persons who had met either Dixon Denham or Hugh Clapperton and still remembered them well.[33] While in Timbuktu he met people who still remembered well Alexander Gordon Laing's visit in August and September 1826 (René Caillié himself was unnoticed as he was travelling in disguise)[34] and even some old Tuaregs who had apparently seen Mungo Park sailing on the Niger some fifty years ago.[35] According to the French journalist Félix Dubois, Mungo Park was still remembered around Bamako as late as 1895 with the name "Bonciba-tigui" [bònsibatigi], because of his plush beard.[36]

All the same, it is well possible and quite plausible that the year 1796 was identified in Kamalia, and in many other places, at least for a period, as the year the white man passed.[37]

My second example concerns the famous scene in the Travels which describes the Moorish wedding customs [10 April 1796]. Mungo Park witnessed the celebration, but he got tired and withdrew into his hut. When he was about to go to sleep, an elderly woman entered with a bowl in her hand. She communicated to him (how?) that it was a present from the bride. Then she suddenly "discharged the contents of the bowl full in my face". According to him, it was "the same sort of holy water which, among the Hottentots [Khoikhoi], a priest is said to sprinkle a new married couple". He does not state his source for this information, but it could have been Anders Sparrman, according to whom the "holy water" was human urine.[38] He took it at first as an insult, but the woman communicated to him (how?) that it was "a nuptial benediction from the bride's own person, and which, on such occasions, is always received by the young unmarried Moors as a mark of distinguished favour."

The anecdote is puzzling: does Mungo Park mean that the bowl was full of urine - or does he merely suggest that the act itself was similar to the practice among the "Hottentots"? The first interpretation has now become an established fact among modern writers, and particularly in the United States, and its popularity is based on the explanatory footnote in Kate Ferguson Marsters' edition of the Travels [on page 156]. Marsters, for her part, relied on the biography of Mungo Park written by the Scottish novelist Lewis Grassic Gibbon (aka James Leslie Mitchell, 1901-35) and published in 1934.[39] Yet Gibbon was no Africanist, nor any expert on the Moorish culture. Moreover, he was no admirer of Mungo Park, whom he constantly calls in his book "the dour young prig in the blue coat".[40] According to his contemporaries, Mungo Park was "reserved" and taciturn amongst people he did not know well, but nobody ever regarded him as dour, prig, or prude.

I am not so convinced of Gibbon's interpretation,[41] though the image of an imperious white explorer wiping his face clean from urine and pompously believing that he was blessed may appear exciting, according to the standards of our own day. It is, of course, possible that the liquid was urine and the woman intended to offend Mungo Park - but why would she have wanted to do so and pretend that her act was a mark of "distinguished favour"? After all, he was allowed to participate in the wedding festivities and according to his own words, the Moorish women were not as hostile towards him as the men were, though their curiosity was occasionally "very troublesome". On the other hand, it is hard to accept that such a habit - throwing a bowl of urine on a guest's face - really existed among the Moors of the western Sahara. I have not found any modern publication describing the traditional wedding practices of the Moors, or the Tuaregs, which mentions such a practice. And more specifically, I cannot believe that any Muslim ceremony could include human or animal excrement. And why the bride would have aimed "a distinguished favour" at Mungo Park, who was a prisoner and a despised infidel (unless she was the young beauty whom he had earlier selected to inspect whether he was circumcised[42]). I cannot say what really happened, but I hesitate to make too spicy deductions. It seems to me that in this case Mungo Park's story may not be entirely true. A similar case is his anecdote of the "wild hog" which the Moors first incited to attack him and later accommodated in his hut [Travels, 12 March 1796]: I seriously wonder what animal it really was (an aardvark perhaps?) and what actually took place?[43]

Finally, I hope some scholars will take on the task of publishing a comprehensive critical edition of Mungo Park's correspondence. Also, that someone would satisfy my curiosity by publishing, either online or in print, the "Lost manuscript of Mungo Park" fabricated by Richard Adams Locke in 1838 and printed in his newspaper The New Era.[44]


1. The Negroland Revisited. Discovery and Invention of the Sudanese Middle Ages, Helsinki 2000: The Finnish Academy of Sciences and Letters [Humaniora 309].

2. Yet I was able to decipher one obscure word better than a native speaker. During his second journey, Mungo Park and Alexander Anderson were prowled by invisible and strange beasts (lions actually) and these animals expressed a sound which resembled "a hiss like the fuf of a cat" [12 August 1805; italics mine]. John Whishaw, who edited The Journal of a Mission to the Interior of Africa, in the Year 1805 for publication (London 1815: John Murray), added a footnote, in which he confirmed that the original text truly reads like this, as if there were something wrong. However, fuff is an ordinary Scottish expression which means the same as "puff", but it refers also to the hissing sound of an angry cat. As there are so many English editions of the Travels and the Journal, all with different pagination, I refer to the original texts by date or chapter. My method is clumsy indeed, but it works in all cases.

3. African Exploration and Human Understanding. University of Edinburgh 1972 [The Mungo Park bi-centenary memorial lecture delivered under the auspices of the Centre of African Studies, on Thursday, 2nd December 1971].

4. Tutkimusmatkoilla Afrikan sydämessä. Mungo Parkin kaksi retkeä Niger-joelle vuosina 1795-97 ja 1805 hänen itsensä kertomana. Liitteenä Amadi Fatouman todistus Mungo Parkin kuolemasta ja muita dokumentteja. Suomentanut sekä johdannolla ja selityksin varustanut Pekka Masonen, Tampere 2022: Mala Fide [366 pages; illustrated, maps, index, bibliography; ISBN 978-952-94-5758-8]. My edition includes Mungo Park's Travels (1799) and Journal (1815); Amadi Fatouma's testimony extracted from Isaaco's Journal (1814/1815); several extracts of Mungo Park's letters from Africa published by John Whishaw (Journal, 1815); Lieutenant Martyn's letter from Sansanding published by Kenneth Lupton (Mungo Park the African Traveler, Oxford University Press 1979); Mungo Park's letter to an unknown relative from Sansanding published by E. Geoffrey Hancock and Alwyne Wheeler ("An Addition to the Archival Record of Mungo Park (1771-1806), African Explorer." Archives of Natural History, 1988, 15:3, pp. 311-15); two poems: "Woman!" by George Crabbe and "The Negro's Lament for Mungo Park" by P.M.J. (Paul Moon James, 1780-1854; the poem was published first in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine in 1819 [vol. 6, issue 32] and later in his collection Poems, London 1821); an extract from Richard and John Lander, Journal of an Expedition to Explore the Course and Termination of the Niger: with a Narrative of a Voyage down that River to Its Termination (London 1832: John Murray, 2 vols) concerning Mungo Park's "lost" diary of 1805 [see vol. II, pp. 12-13]. I had to omit the letters of George Scott, the draftsman of the second journey, which he sent from the Gambia to his father. They were published in October 1905 in Transactions of the Hawick Archaeological Society. This publication is by no means 'difficult', but the Covid-19 related travel restrictions prevented me from visiting Great Britain (in the year 2021). This unhappy situation also explains the contents of my bibliography, though it does not justify any of my errors.

5. マンゴ・パーク ニジェール探検行 河出書房新社 [Mango Pāku, Nijēru tanken-kō, Tōkyō 1978: Kawade Shobō Shinsha].

6. Podróże we wnętrzu Afryki, Warszawa 2007: Dalavich Press.

7. Mungo Park mabudin kwara: labarin tafiyarsa ta farko da ta karshe, by Nuhu Zariya, Zaria 1948: Gaskiya Corporation [reprinted 1962]. This is an indirect account, rather than a translation, of his two journeys to the Niger. See the review by G. P. Bargery (Africa. Journal of the International African Institute, 1948, 18:4, p. 316).

8. As it is well known, the first French and German translations of the Travels appeared already in 1799; followed by Dutch and Swedish translations in 1800; and an Italian in 1816. It is surprising that the first Spanish translation appeared as late as 1991 (by Graziella Baravalle; cf. note 11 below) - and more striking is that, according to the online catalogue of the Portuguese National Library, there is no Portuguese translation. However, besides the complete translations, there are many indirect accounts in various languages. The first Hungarian description of the Travels appeared as early as 1799; and a Polish description in 1805 (cf. note 6 above). I wish someone would prepare a comprehensive list of the various English editions of the Travels, covering at least the nineteenth century, and of the various translations, including the indirect accounts. The task is not easy - but not so dull as it may appear. Such a study would help us to establish better Mungo Park's influence.

9. For instance, Kate Ferguson Marsters' edition of Mungo Park's Travels (2000) is available only in two [!] university libraries in my country. Though both are open to all readers, the general public seldom ventures in academic premises.

10. The list is by no means insignificant and uninteresting, but it proves how fashionable the book was when it was published. The list contains the names of 25 libraries and 355 subscribers, of whom 20 were women. Several illustrious people are included: peers, politicians, abolitionists, socialites. To me, the most intriguing is "Miss Whitehead" who, however, is unlikely the same person as the notorious "Bank Nun" (aka Sarah Whitehead) who held her daily demonstration in front of the Bank of England in the 1820s, though she could have been (see Rebecca Nesvet, "The Bank Nun's Tale: Financial Forgery, Gothic Imagery, and Economic Power", Victorian Network, 2018, no. 8, pp. 28-49).

11. Cf. the latest Spanish translation by Susana Carral Martínez, Viajes a las regiones interiores de África, Barcelona 2008: Ediciones del viento.

12. During his captivity amongst the Moors, Mungo Park met a "bushreen" or a Muslim scholar who showed him some of his books [chapter 12]. One of them was written in "Kallam il Indi, or Persian". I suppose that this refers to the Persian calligraphy (nastaliq), rather than to Persian language. Moreover, the scholar "assured to me that he could read the writings of the Christians: he showed me a number of barbarous characters, which he asserted were the Roman alphabet". To Mungo Park, these characters were "unintelligible". I suppose that this is one of the earliest European references to the tifinagh script used by the Tuaregs. Had the "barbarous characters" been Cyrillic or Greek letters, he would certainly have recognized them - and why on earth would a Muslim scholar in the western Sahara have possessed books written in Coptic or Ge'ez? My reasoning is supported by an anecdote given by Heinrich Barth. He once presented his European books to some Tuaregs who considered the Latin letters like their own tifinagh script (Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa; Being a Journal of an Expedition Undertaken under the Auspices of H.B.M.'s Government, in the Years 1849-1855, London 1965: Frank Cass [Centenary Edition in three volumes], vol. II, p. 416).

13. See the case of "Kootacunda" in Richard Owen, Saga of the Niger, London: Richard Hale, p. 45.

14. Two Rivers. Travels in West Africa on the Trail of Mungo Park, London 1991: Chapmans, p. 118.

15. "Power and Knowledge. The Representation of the Mande World in the Works of Park, Caillié, Monteil, and Delafosse." Cahiers d'Études africaines, no. 111-112, pp. 485-511.

16. There are, however, some scenes in the Travels that suggest that he conversed directly with the Moors. One is the humorous occasion in the chapter 10 when a group of Moorish women entered his hut to inspect if Christian men were circumcised. Mungo Park "thought it best to treat the business jocularly" and he "observed to them" that he was willing to offer "ocular demonstration" to one of them, the most beautiful, to whom he would point: "The ladies enjoyed the jest, and went away laughing heartily." I wonder how did he communicate all this to the "ladies" - simply by gesturing, or did some of the women know "Mandingo"? Or was his servant Demba present, although he is not mentioned in the text? Demba did not speak Arabic either, but he knew Soninke, which was familiar to some of the Moors. Also, many of the slaves of the Moors spoke "Mandingo" and they acted sometimes as interpreters for Mungo Park.

17. For "chère amie", see señora Camilla in the Travels [2 December 1795 and 9 June 1797].

18. F. Mahoney, "Notes on Mulattoes of the Gambia before the mid-nineteenth century." Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana, 1965, vol. 8, pp. 120-29.

19. According to Mungo Park, Johnson spoke English well: he had spent several years as a slave in Jamaica and England, before he returned to the Gambia as a free man.

20. Intermediate Gambian Mandinka-English Dictionary. San Francisco State University 1987: Department of Anthropology [Gambian Studies 21].

21. For further discussion on the authorship of the Travels, see Charles W.J. Withers, "Geography, enlightenment and the book: authorship and audience in Mungo Park's African text", in: Miles Ogborn & Charles W.J. Withers (eds), Geographies of the Book, Farnham 2010: Ashgate, pp. 191-220.

22. Travels into the Inland Parts of Africa: Containing a Description of the Several Nations for the Space of Six Hundred Miles up the River Gambia, London 1738. Compare, for instance, Mungo Park's description of the "bar of iron" [in chapter 2] and the causes of slavery in Africa [chapter 22] to the relevant passages in Moore's work.

23. At Silla, the terminus of his first journey, he claimed to have collected from the Moorish and black traders "all the information I could, concerning the further course of the Niger eastward". Considering that he arrived in Silla in the late afternoon [29 June 1796] and "remained until it was quite dark, under a tree, surrounded by hundreds of people", it is not plausible that he had an opportunity to interview the traders in depth, before he left Silla in the following morning "about eight o'clock". He probably collected the information he gives in the end of chapter 16 in many other situations, and he added it in this context to justify the reader his decision to turn back to the west (for the location of Silla, see Hudson 1991, p. 192). Similarly, all the information on "Mandingoes" given in chapters 20-23 is hardly collected during his stay in Kamalia, as he claims, but it includes many details he had learned in the Gambia already before his departure for the interior or taken from Francis Moore.

24. I wonder how well Mungo Park was able to maintain his sense of time during his first journey, as nobody could rectify him, if he lost a day or two. The dates before his captivity amongst the Moors are probably correct: he gives, for instance, the right date for the beginning of Ramadan (11 March 1796), though he could also have obtained this information afterwards when he was writing his Travels. On the other hand, his date for 'Īd al-'Aḍḥā is vague: it is first referred to on 9 June and again on the 12th and the 19th but the exact date for the festival is not given (16 June 1796). I suspect that his dates, after his captivity, are less accurate. The most significant inconsistency concerns his arrival on the Niger: the correct date is 21 July - not the 20th, as he states. He wakes up on the 20th in "Doolingkeaboo" [Dolonguebougou] and arrives in the evening in a small unnamed village near Segu. It is the following morning, that is the 21st, when he finally sees "with infinite pleasure" the river. Then he proceeds to Segu, but he is not allowed to enter the city. He is directed to a small unnamed village nearby where he should wait for further instructions. The day is still the 21st. In the village, he is rescued by a kind-hearted woman who invites him to stay in her hut where "the female part of her family" perform the famous song: "Let us pity the white man...". The next day is the 22nd; not the 21st, as it is given in the Travels. According to his own words, he spent three nights in this village, but he does not tell who accommodated him the next two nights and whether he was treated equally well. A more curious error takes place when he is heading towards Kamalia in September 1796. On the 15th he reaches "Dosita" [exact location unknown] where he stays for two days. On the 17th he arrives in "Mansia" [Balamansaya] where he spends the night. He leaves the village in the following morning and arrives about two o'clock in Kamalia. The date should be the 18th but it is given in the Travels as the 16th. This could be a printing error - the handwritten 18 can be easily read 16 - but it is not corrected in any of the later editions (the next date mentioned in the text is 19 December, so the error does not really matter). I suppose that it is was the author's own lapse. All the same, the reader should take the dates given in the Travels with a grain of salt, and I would write merely that Mungo Park reached the Niger in late July 1796. The strangest chronological error occurs in the Journal: there is an entry for 31 April 1805! This is not a printing error, nor a mistake introduced by the editor (John Whishaw), as the previous entry is for 30 April, and the following for 1 May, and all these entries describe separate events.

25. Mungo Park admitted to Walter Scott that he had omitted such details and "circumstances" which he considered irrelevant to the public, as they were related "solely to his own personal adventures and escapes". His experiences amongst the Moors were likely more austere than they are given in the Travels. Walter Scott kept his mouth shut and he never revealed what his friend had confessed to him (Lupton 1979, p. 72).

26. It is not known, when the notes disappeared, but it apparently took place in an early phase. When John Whishaw was writing his biographical essay on Mungo Park, which he included in his edition of the Journal, he contacted Park's family, siblings, and friends, as he wanted to consult the notes of the first journey. They all replied that they did not have any Mungo Park's papers in their possession. It is possible that they spoke the truth. Perhaps Mungo Park himself destroyed his notes after the Travels was published, as he thought they were now unnecessary. Or did they want to protect his reputation [cf. note 25 above]? If this is the case, then why were the notes destroyed (and by whom?) - considering that his relatives have cherished various memorabilia and documents related to him to this day (Hancock & Wheeler 1988). The disappearance of Mungo Park's original journal of his second journey is even more mysterious. It was brought from Sansanding to the Gambia by Isaaco in early 1806 and delivered to London, where it was kept in the Colonial Office, before it was given to the African Institution for publication. The journal apparently disappeared shortly after the edition prepared by Whishaw was published in 1815. If the journal was handed over to Mungo Park's family, why did they not preserve it? If it was returned to the Colonial Office, why was it not archived? Equally strange is the disappearance of the original Arabic text of Isaaco's Journal. Isaaco returned to the Gambia in September 1811 and handed over his journal to Governor Charles Maxwell, who had it translated locally. The English translation was sent to Lord Liverpool, who was then the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, and it was first published in November 1814 by Thomas Thomson in the Scottish periodical Annals of Philosophy (vol. 4, issue 23, pp. 369- 85). According to Thomson, Isaaco's journal was first translated from Arabic into Wolof, from Wolof to French, and finally from French to English; in his letter to Lord Liverpool, Maxwell says merely that it was written in Arabic and translated into English "by a person resident in Senegal". The translation was also incorporated in Whishaw's edition of Mungo Park's Journal. The texts are not identical: Whishaw has altered some of the personal names and toponyms, as well as edited the text here and there. As the original English translation is also lost, it is now impossible to know how faithful the two printed versions are to Isaaco's Arabic text. It is understandable that Maxwell wanted to know as soon as possible what Isaaco had learned about Mungo Park's fate, but why was the journal not given later to any qualified Arabist to translate? The leading British Orientalist William Ouseley was then in Persia but Samuel Lee, for instance, was available in Cambridge.

27. Cf. Adam Jones, "Drink Deep, or Taste Not: Thoughts on the Use of Early European Records in the Study of African Material Culture", History in Africa, 1994, vol. 21, pp. 349-70. For a practical example of the research on travel literature, see Jamie Bruce Lockhart, "In the Raw: Some Reflections on Transcribing and Editing Lieutenant Hugh Clapperton's Writings on the Borno Mission of 1822-25", History in Africa, 1999, vol. 26, pp. 157-95.

28. Travels in Western Africa, in the Years 1818, 19, 20, and 21, from the River Gambia, through Woolli, Bondoo, Galam, Kasson, Kaarta, and Foolidoo, to the River Niger. London 1825: John Murray.

29. Voyage à Ségou 1878-1879, rédigé d'après les notes et journaux de voyage de Soleillet par Gabriel Gravier, Paris 1887: Challamel aîné.

30. Islands in the Sky. The Space Station Theme in Science Fiction Literature, second edition, revised and updated, San Bernardino CA 2009: The Borgo Press [I.O. Evans Studies in the Philosophy and Criticism of Literature 15], p. 28.

31. Scott J. Juengel, "Mungo Park's artificial skin; or the year the white man passed." The Eighteenth Century, 2006, 47:1, pp. 19-38.

32. Travels in Western Africa, p. 349.

33. One of them was the Fulani scholar 'Abd el Káder dan Taffa who became Barth's close friend. Barth describes their first meeting more vividly in a letter he sent from Hausaland to William Desborough Cooley in London on 6 May 1853 (British Library, Add 32117, Miscellaneous letters, etc. 1594-1854) than in his book [1965, III: 136]. According to Barth, he had as a young man "harassed" Hugh Clapperton and his Jewish servant Jacob Deloyice with inquisitive questions about their religion. For Clapperton's description of their meeting, see Dixon Denham, Hugh Clapperton & Walter Oudney, Narrative of Travels and Discoveries in Northern and Central Africa in the Years 1822, 1823, and 1824, London 1826: John Murray, 2 vols [see vol. II, pp. 249-50].

34. Travels through central Africa to Timbuctoo and across the Great Desert to Morocco Performed in the Years 1824-1828, London 1830, 2 vols. [reprinted Frank Cass 1967]; see vol. II, p. 310.

35. Ibid., vol. II, p. 340 ja 400.

36. Tombouctou la mystérieuse, Paris 1897: Flammarion, p. 364-65.

37. This is exactly the way, in which Mungo Park's arrival in Segu in late July 1796 is treated in Maryse Condé's historical novel Segu (French original Ségou, 1984): it represents merely an event which fixes the beginning of the novel at a certain point in time. He is not mentioned by name; he utters no words; he is just a stranger who arouses people's interest to come and marvel at him, including some of the protagonists of the novel. In general, the influence of Mungo Park's Travels is profound in this novel. Another example is the Roots (1976) by Alex Haley who often quotes the Travels verbatim. And the third is, of course, T.C. Boyle's 'historical' novel of Mungo Park, Water Music (1993) - though personally I consider his portrayal of Africans disturbing. Again, an interesting topic for a scholarly paper would be to analyze Mungo Park's influence on, and his treatment in, the fiction, art, and popular culture (though there is, rather surprisingly, no movie of him; the Nigerian Mongo Park is a different story). I have managed to find some curious musical references: while Korede Bello's hit Mungo Park (2017) may be familiar to some scholars, the song Toubabo Koomi (aka Land of the White Cannibals) (1994) by the American sludge metal band Acid Bath is perhaps more esoteric. The latter song takes its name from the Travels: according to Mungo Park, the Africans believed that the land beyond the Atlantic, where the slaves were taken, was inhabited by cannibals of gigantic size called "Koomi" [chapter 21]. I wonder if any other European explorer of Africa has inspired the performers of modern popular music as much (though there is an American hardcore punk band called Bula Matari).

38. "My host and hostess, who twenty years before had lived nearer to the Cape, viz. at Groot Vaders Bosch told me they believed the report, that a master of the ceremonies performed the matrimonial rites, by the immediate conspersion of the bride and bridegroom with his own water, was not without foundation; but that this was practiced only within their craals, and never in the presence of any of the colonists. My Hottentots, whom I frequently questioned upon this subject, chose neither to confess the fact, nor absolutely to deny it, so that probably this usage is still retained in some craals." A Voyage to the Cape of Good Hope, towards the Antarctic polar circle, and around the World: but chiefly to the country of the Hottentots and Caffres, from the year 1772 to 1776. London 1785, 2 vols [see vol. I, p. 357]. The Swedish original, Resa till Goda Hopps-Udden, södra Polkretsen och omkring Jordklotet, samt till Hottentott- och Caffer-Landen Åren 1772-1776, was published in 1783 (Stockholm).

39. Niger: The Life of Mungo Park, Edinburgh: The Porpoise Press; see p. 139.

40. George Shepperson, "Mungo Park and the Scottish Contribution to Africa." African Affairs, 1971, no. 280, pp. 277-81. When describing Mungo Park's relationship with his servant Demba, Gibbon (op.cit., p. 50) likens them with much sarcasm to the protagonists of Cervantes: "Demba, the Sancho Panza to Mungo's Quixote." His allusion does not work: Mungo Park was no knight-errant, nor was Demba his down-to-earth sidekick. What about Johnson, the interpreter - what would be his role? Ginés de Pasamonte, perhaps?

41. I have not checked all the biographies written about Mungo Park, but it seems to me that Gibbon is the first (and only) author who makes this interpretation (cf. Lupton 1979, p. 68). The late Victorian biographers, Joseph Thomson (Mungo Park and the Niger, London 1890: George Philip and Son) and T. Banks Maclachlan (Mungo Park, Edinburgh 1898: Oliphant, Anderson & Ferrier), do not mention this scene at all; in general, both are shy when describing his encounters with African women. See also Peter Brent, Black Nile. Mungo Park and the Search for the Niger, London 1977: Gordon & Cremonesi; and Mark Duffill, Mungo Park. The West African Explorer, Edinburgh 1999: National Museums of Scotland.

42. See note 16 above.

43. Mungo Park is strikingly indifferent when describing African animals in the Travels, and he never bothers to explain what the "wild hogs" or "wolves" he saw were like. Apart from the iconic species (lion, elephant, hippo, giraffe, crocodile, ostrich), he does not mention wild birds, monkeys, snakes, or lizards at all. Although his competence as a scientific observer was based on the six new species of fish he had recognized in Sumatra, he says nothing about African fish, except that they are either big or small, tasty or not. Richard Trevor Wilson has identified most of the plants mentioned in the Travels: "The Botany of Mungo Park's Travels in Africa, 1795-1806." Asian Journal of Geographical Research, 2019, 2:1, pp. 1-19 [open access publication, DOI: 10.9734/ajgr/2019/v2i130075].

44. Richard Adams Locke is best known for his "Great Moon Hoax" of 1835. This later hoax was less successful, and it is forgotten by all biographers of Mungo Park: not necessarily because they considered the story too trivial, but probably because they did not know of it (cf. Kate Ferguson Marsters, op.cit., p. 9). Some modern writers refer to the story in other contexts but cursorily (e.g. Matthew Goodman, The Sun and the Moon. The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York, New York 2008: Basic Books). What intrigues me is the contents: how far the "lost manuscript" corresponds with Amadi Fatouma's testimony and whether the author exploited other existing sources, or did he rely solely on his own imagination - and why Locke thought that he might gain fame in the United States by publishing Mungo Park's "lost" journal, when the Lander brothers had already proven it to be lost? And how did Locke explain to his readers that he had received the manuscript?

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