NEAF Saturday Seminar series | Lecture 2 | Maree Browne, Afternoon Tea in Khartoum
NEAF Saturday Seminar series | Lecture 2
25 May 2019
Afternoon Tea in Khartoum
Khartoum in the mid-Nineteenth was a meeting ground for explorers searching for the source of the Nile. This group included the Speke and Grant expedition, the Pethericks and Sam Baker. Within this expat group were two women, largely ignored in the classic recounting of the exploration of Nile. These two are discussed in these lectures. The first is the Dutch heiress and friend of the Dutch royal family, Alexandrine Tinne and the second a Transylvanian orphan, Florence Szasz, bought/rescued from an Ottoman slave market by the English explorer, Samuel Baker. Alexine Tinne led a largely female group, albeit supported by large numbers of Turkish soldiers and local staff, along the Nile as far as Gondokoro and into the Bahr-el-Ghazal.
On this journey she was accompanied by the German explorer, Theodor von Heuglin. They collected botanical and ethnographic specimens whilst extensively recording their journey. Alexine supplemented her records with photos, some of the earliest of this region of Africa. She was an accomplished photographer and had a studio and dark room installed on the steamer she hired to be the base of her explorations.
Living in Khartoum at the same time is our second explorer, Sam Baker’s lover and later wife, Florence Szasz. Theirs is one of the great love stories of this period but it is far more. Florence had been reared in a harem in Vidden and here she learnt the Dinga language and about the land of this tribe, a tribe that occupied the banks of the Nile south of Khartoum. She also spoke and read Arabic. Her great protector and teacher was Ali, a eunuch slave removed from his Dinga homeland on the Nile and taken into service of the Ottomans.
Their stories interlock briefly during their stays in Khartoum but then diverge, one onto a settled old age in rural England, the friend of the future Edward the Seventh and his wife, the other to be murdered in the Sahara while exploring the overland route from Tripoli to Timbuktu via Lake Chad.
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