Henry Stanley is usually remembered as the American newspaperman who, on first meeting the Scottish explorer, Livingstone, deep in the African interior, greeted him with ‘Dr Livingstone, I presume?’ Yet Stanley was a distinguished explorer in his own right. In 1874 he returned to Africa to explore the Luabala River which Livingstone believed formed the headwaters of the Nile. He followed the course of this river, forcing his way through thickly wooded country west of Lake Tanganyika to prove that it was, in fact, the headwaters of the Congo (now Zaire). In August 1876 he began to follow the river as it flowed to the Atlantic. It was to prove a fantastic journey. Day after day he was attacked by unfriendly tribes. On one occasion his own few craft were attacked by a fleet of fifty-four war canoes. It was led by a huge canoe with forty paddlers on either side, and altogether there were two thousand Africans. Stanley’s men opened fire with their muskets and the attackers were forced to break off the action and retreat. Finally, after losing his European companions and 170 native followers, Stanley reached the trading station of Boma and three days later gazed out over the Atlantic Ocean. He had solved the mystery of the Congo after 4,800 km of exploration.
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