The Quest for the Secret Nile by Guy Yeoman - review by Christopher Ondaatje

Christopher Ondaatje

Riddle of A River

The Quest for the Secret Nile


Chaucer Press 192pp £20

The manuscript of this book was incomplete when the author, Guy Yeoman, died in 1998. It is by far the best thing ever published on the sources of the Nile and goes a long way to finally disproving the accepted but erroneous theory that John Hanning Speke found the origin of the Nile when he ‘discovered’ Lake Victoria in 1858. The lake is not the source. It is, however, one of the two great reservoirs for that river, the other being Lake Albert.

The Nile’s headwaters belong, in Yeoman’s words, to ‘a huge network of lakes, rivers, swamps, mountains, forests and vast savannah plains’ which were, before European explorers entered this part of Africa, ‘home to many separate kingdoms and cultures’. Only recently have outsiders penetrated these lands, which, despite the damage done

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

RLF - March

A Mirror - Westend