Chirton resident David Baker is helping to establish a historical trail in the African bush in honour of his great great grandfather, Sir Samuel Baker, who discovered one of the significant sources of the River Nile.
Mr Baker, 74, and his family are working with Julian Monroe Fisher, an explorer and anthropologist, to establish the 360-mile trail in South Sudan and Uganda, named after Sir Samuel and his wife, Lady Florence Baker.
The project has the support of authorities in Uganda and South Sudan and its aim is to encourage tourism.
Sir Samuel was a British explorer, naturalist, engineer and big game hunter in Victorian times.
In 1861 he and his second wife, Florence, a white Hungarian who he rescued from a slave market in Vidin, Bulgaria, set off on an expedition to find the sources of the Nile.
It was a difficult and dangerous journey but three years later they discovered a lake in western Uganda, one of the great sources of the Nile, and named it Lake Albert after Queen Victoria’s late Prince Consort.
Overlooking Lake Albert is Baker’s View, named after Sir Samuel.
Travelling up the river, Samuel and Florence came across a mighty waterfall and named it the Murchison Falls, after Sir Roderick Murchison, the president of the Royal Geographical Society.
After returning to England in 1866, Samuel Baker was knight-ed and awarded the gold medal by the Royal Geographical Society for his achievement.
Between 1869 and 1873, Sir Samuel was governor general of Equatoria, having been appointed by the Sultan of Egypt with the express intention of suppressing the slave trade along the River Nile.
David Baker said: “The trail is very exciting. My great great grandfather was an extraordinary man. In the late 1850s and 1860s the source of the Nile was a mystery and a whole lot of explorers wanted to find it. It was almost like going to the moon.”
Mr Baker, a risk analyst and a former RAF officer, visited the trail at the beginning of this year and said it was “extraordinary and really amazing” to be at the sights his great great grandfather had discovered.
In January the Ugandan section of the trail will be opened, coinciding with the 150th anniversary of Sir Samuel Baker’s expedition.
David Baker and his brother, Christopher, who lives in San Franciso, will be in Uganda to set up markers for the trail.
They consist of information boards and at each location they will have quotes from Sir Samuel Baker’s diaries relating to the locations and give a sense of Sir Samuel and Lady Florence’s observations and discoveries.
Also next year the Royal Geographical Society will be holding an exhibition to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Sir Samuel Baker discovering Lake Albert.