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Day 41: Bamako to Djenné

Ségou, Mali 
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The river at Ségou, where Mungo Park, having nearly lost his life many times, became the first Westerner to confirm that the Niger flowed west to east.
Michael Palin - SaharaThe expedition that finally solved the riddle was inspired not so much by religion or commerce as scientific curiosity. The African Association, founded in London in 1788, charged the young Scotsman Mungo Park with the task of discovering, once and for all, 'the rise, the course, and the termination of the Niger'.

Park and his expedition started inland from Gambia in June 1795. After extraordinary misadventures, terrible hardships and considerable dangers, they reached the town of Ségou over a year later.

Mid-afternoon, 204 years later, I've reached Ségou, after a four-hour drive from Bamako, and I'm standing on a soft sand beach with a copy of Mungo Park's journal, Travels into the Interior of Africa, open at his entry for 20 July 1796.

'As I was anxiously looking around for the river, one of them called out, geo affili (see the water), and looking forwards, I saw with infinite pleasure the great object of my mission - the long-sought-for, majestic Niger, glittering to the morning sun, as broad as the Thames at Westminster, and flowing slowly to the eastward.'
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  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 41
  • Country/sea: Mali
  • Place: Ségou
  • Book page no: 126

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