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Keith Johnston 1844-1879 Death of a Cartographer - in darkest Africa Mike Shand, University of Glasgow.

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Presentation on theme: "Keith Johnston 1844-1879 Death of a Cartographer - in darkest Africa Mike Shand, University of Glasgow."— Presentation transcript:

1 Keith Johnston Death of a Cartographer - in darkest Africa Mike Shand, University of Glasgow

2 Cartographer; Geographer; Explorer Born:1844, Edinburgh, Scotland Died:1879, Behobeho, East Africa Aged: 34 Cause of Death:Dysentery Died while leading the Royal Geographical Society East Africa Expedition from Zanzibar to Lake Nyasa.

3 MapsAtlases Globes

4 1860- Cartographer with Johnstons, Edinburgh (age 16) Superintendant of Maps Stanfords, London Cartographer with Perthes, Germany (age 23) Elected Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society Head of Geographical Dept., Johnstons, London Assistant Curator and Draughtsman to the R.G.S Cartographer, Surveyor and Explorer, Paraguay Independent Cartographer/Geographer London Leader of R.G.S. East Africa Expedition (age34).

5 John Hanning SPEKE Henry Morton STANLEY David LIVINGSTONE Richard BURTON

6 Slave Trade Ivory Trade


8 The cumulative labour involved in mapping is well described by Stanley, referring to his journey to rescue Emin Pasha : Mine (mapping) have cost me more labour than the note-taking, literary work, sketching and photographing combined. In the aggregate, the winding of the three chronometers daily for nearly three years, the 300 sets of observations, the calculation of all these observations, the mapping of the positions, tracing of rivers, and shading of mountain ranges, the number of compass-bearings taken, the boiling of the thermometers, the records of the varying of the aneroids, the computing of the heights, and the notes of temperature, all of which are necessary for a good map, have cost me no less than 780 hours of honest work, which, at 6 hours per day, would make 130 working days The general methods of survey employed are succinctly described by Speke thus: My first occupation was to map the country. This is done by timing the rate of march by watch, taking compass bearings along the road, or on any conspicuous marks - as, for instance hills - and by noting the watershed - in short all topographical objects. On arrival in camp every day ascertaining, by boiling a thermometer, of the altitude of the station above the sea level; of the latitude of the station by the meridian altitude of a star taken with the sextant; and of the compass variation by azimuth. Occasionally there was the fixing of certain crucial stations, at intervals of 60 miles or so, by lunar observations, and distances of the sun from certain stars for determining of the longitude by which the original timed - course can be drawn out with certainty on the map by proportion.

9 Map by J H SPEKE 1858

10 Among African explorers Keith Johnston was distinguished by being both a trained cartographer and professional geographer of considerable repute, despite his relative youth. According to David Livingstone in 1872 Keith Johnston knew more about the catchments of Central Africa than the great explorer himself RGS president Sir Bartle Frere stated that Keith Johnston drew most of the fine wall maps in illustration of our Evening Meetings and also some of the best maps in our Journal

11 London Suez Canal Aden Zanzibar Keith Johnston & Joseph Thomson Depart: London 14 Nov 1878 Arrive: Zanzibar 6 Jan 1879 Zanzibar


13 Old British Consulate Dhow Harbour Plaque on Old British Consulate

14 Memorial window and brass plaque in Zanzibar Cathedral dedicated to Keith Johnston in Zanzibar Cathedral dedicated to Keith Johnston Zanzibar UMCA Cathedral built by Bishop Steere, 1879

15 Keith Johnston (Leader) Joseph Thomson Chuma Makatubu The caravan departed Zanzibar on 18 May 1879 with 150 porters & 5 donkeys

16 Zanzibar Lake Tanganyika LakeNyasa

17 MAIN AIMS OF THE EXPEDITION (as instructed by the Royal Geographical Society) To establish a Route from Dar es Salaam to Lake Nyasa (and possibly onwards to Lake Tanganyika) To Survey and Map the Route taken To examine the mountains NE of Lake Nyasa To make observations on geology, meterology, natural history and ethnology To obtain information on the inhabitants and products To enquire into the practicability of constructing and maintaining a telegraph line


19 ChronometersSextant AneroidBarometer PrismaticCompass

20 (Transcribed with explanatory notes by James McCarthy, 2001) Old Consulate, Zanzibar Geog. (Equador). To Bishop Steeres with Mrs Kirk. Read exercises to end of verbs. Mrs K and girls at Mbweni. To lunch with Dr Robb to meet Mr Wakefield. Dr Robbs meteorological observations for past 5 years. Rainfall averages about 60 inches greatest in April a second smaller maximum in Nov. Dec.

21 May 19 Dar-es Salaam Watches set at together. 17 m. fast of mean Zanzibar time on 14 May. After mustering men at 6.30 and serving out ammunition to the 23 carbine men and 20 Enfields were all ready to start. By 12 oclock the greater part of the caravan was despatched, drum beating and flag flying in front. May 24 Mkuranga-Liwela Morning dull - heavy rain at 5.0am Left Makuranga at 7.10 bearing SSE. Passed a marshy stream east delay 10 minutes repacking donkeys go in jungle SbyW grass and trees …… May 25 Liwela No march today …… very heavy rain tent flooded …… Drew out map of route from Dar es Salaam to Liwela at half inch to one mile. No observations possible. The caravan left Zanzibar on 18 May 1879 with 150 porters & 5 donkeys

22 May 29 Mkamba NO MARCH TODAY Dull morning, night cloudy with slight rain OBSERVATIONS Crux for latitude 7d26m30s; lower limb of moon for time May 30 Mkamba NO MARCH TODAY More rain. Steamy night Keith Johnston and Joseph Thomson go on shooting trip for hippo to nearby lake. Trip involved wading waist and armpit deep in marsh and returning in heavy rain. MAPPING - travelled 19 miles since last Sunday May 31 Mkamba NO MARCH TODAY Very wet morning everything damp Wet night bad rheumatism in back This was the beginning of the fatal dysentery that killed Keith Johnston.

23 Not untypical examples of camplife and travel as encountered by the expedition

24 June 9 Boma in jungle Unable to move today after very bad night obliged to keep bed June 10 Boma in jungle Unable to go on severe dysentery. Night wet and miserable. June 11 Boma in jungle Still unable to move. Set a sort of hammock made to carry me tomorrow. June 12 2nd Boma Still very unwell was carried out by Chuma and Sululu on hammock at 7.30 …WbyS …… carried at a sort of jog …… in great pain. Turned out more dead than alive. 7.27sw 739sw 7.49sw 8.2wsw 8.7wsw 815w …… (Thomsons bearings) June 13 June 13 No entries for Friday 13 June June 14Last entry in dairy by Keith Johnston Expect mail June 14 Last entry in dairy by Keith Johnston Expect mail

25 Extracts from RGS report by Joseph Thomson June 15 Kimkumbi, River Rufiji A long weary march brought us to the banks of the Rufiji. June 20 Behobeho From the forest we emerged into glorious Behobeho, a haven of peace and plenty. Johnston became gradually weaker from that date and was unable to stand. June 27 Behobeho On the night of June 27 Keith Johnston suffered dreadful pain and passed into an insensible condition, at 4.15 on 28 June he died.

26 …… on the day we arrived at Behobeho our leader was moved into a hut constructed for him, ……. only too clearly was death stamped on his face

27 50 miles

28 Search based on: Written descriptions of the gravesite German map showing gravesite location Recorded latitude and longitude values plus values extracted from German map

29 Joseph Thomsons description of gravesite at Behobeho and his route map from the Rufiji river to Behobeho Keith Johnstons grave lies at the foot of a large tree festooned with graceful creepers, under an arbour of dense evergreen bushes, a few feet to one side rises a sharp conical ant-mound, about 12 feet high. His name and date of death are carved on the bark of the tree. Bago the chief of the village has undertaken to keep the place clear of vegetation.

30 William Beardalls description of the gravesite at Behobeho and his sketches of the grave and Behobeho village, Keith Johnstons grave The village of Behobeho The grass hut built for Mr Johnston and in which he died, is still standing. He is buried about 25 yards off, under a big Inkuyu tree, which stands just inside the belt of jungle surrounding the village. His initials and the date of death are cut in the bark of the tree. I have found since that the natives had cleaned the grave.

31 The matter of a permanent gravestone was referred to Parliament, the family, the Royal Geographical Society and to British Consul John Kirk in Zanzibar. As a result, a large desk-shaped slab of Swedish granite was chosen to form the gravestone and engraved as follows: Keith Johnston Died Here At Behobeho 28 June Aged 34 » In Deo « It is later reported that the slab was too heavy to be carried and was cut into sections. It then took 100 porters 1 year to carry the gravestone sections to Behobeho Dr Williem Schmidt, German Commissioner, visited the Keith Johnston grave in 1890 resulting in a wooden cross and a fence being erected around the grave.

32 TRANSLATION Johnstons grave is situated on the valley bottom of the Behobeho stream, some 100 metres west of the route of 22 July, right in the middle of a small open stand of trees, consisting of marvellous old trees Bergassor Bornhardt, German explorer and geologist, visited the Keith Johnston grave and Hatambulo (Mt. Johnston) in 1897

33 Bornhardt plucked 2 leaves from the tree next to the grave of Keith Johnston in 1897 and they were later given to the RGS in a letter from German cartographer Richard Kiepert (also a specialist in mapping Africa they would have met when Johnston studied in Germany). The letter also records the grave at Latitude 7° 38 South Longitude 37° 49 East

34 Only map which actually shows the gravesite of Keith Johnston. Scale 1:300,000

35 Methodolgy: 1.Plot gravesite location on modern 1:50,000 map using latitude/longitude. 2.Use image processing software to match scanned old and modern maps. 3.Use known points to create similar triangles and graphically fix location.

36 Problems: 1.Longitude inaccurate by 9 km. 2.Old maps unable to be scanned flat due to the curved atlas binding. 3.Known points not well enough defined for accurate geo-references.

37 Solutions: 1.Combine all 3 methods to create a best fit of the location within 2kms 2.Use 1:50,000 map and GPS to locate the search area with transects 3.Look for fig trees and anthills together

38 1:50, :50,

39 Laptop with ArcView GIS Serial Data Cable Garmin Etrex GPS Unit

40 Behobeho Rufiji River Sand RiversLodge

41 Travel to Behobeho

42 Some of our neighbours at Behobeho

43 Base camp on the Behobeho sand river and our search area

44 1:50,000 map 1982 Behobeho River 1km

45 500m GPS Tracklog at Behobeho

46 GPS Waypoints at Behobeho

47 GRAVESITE : General location of gravesite identified within 2 Location of site transferred to maps and GIS datasets. GPS co-ordinates established for landmarks at the location. The basis for a further search has been established. KEITH JOHNSTON : The information gathered on Keith Johnston and the references relating to the East Africa Expedition of 1879 has now been added to the knowledge of the Selous Conservation Programme and its newly updated Bibliography

48 PROPOSALS : Conduct new search with game warden & park staff Search in October during dry season conditions Consider a controlled burn of undergrowth FUTURE PLANS : Find the grave and record accurate GPS co-ordinates Photograph gravestone and arrange its restoration Rename Hatambulo as Hatambulo (Mt Johnston) for use on future maps Complete route from L. Nyasa - L. Tanganyika - Zanzibar WATCH THIS SPACE

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