Lake Tanganyika

[Extracted from PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY, VOL. III., 1881, pp. 41-2.]

 

Lake Tanganyika.—Mr. E. C. Hore writes to ns as follows regarding the still unexplained phenomenon of the long-continued rise of the waters of this lake, and the reopening of the Lukuga outlet which he was the first to witness two years ago:—

"No real reports," he says, "are to be obtained anywhere on the lake more reliable than those at Ujiji. These reports go to show that when Cameron was here, a marked rising of the lake waters had already been observed, and that it continued from that time up to about two years ago, when the surface was eight feet higher than in Cameron's time. From that date (i.e. two years ago) I have observed that the waters are gradually retiring, and this at a very regular rate, except during the rains (when, however, there is no rise). Three months ago the Arabs agreed in telling me, 'Now the lake is the same as when Cameron was here.' The partly submerged palm-tree on which I had fixed a water-gauge was then just left dry, and the Arabs told me that Cameron used this tree as a target, and that it was then just at the water's edge. Now all my observations and the reports I hear lead me to believe that the lake has been gradually rising for years, and that it rose until it burst open the Lukuga obstruction, first oozing through in small quantities, as when seen by Cameron. That the waters should now rush through the Lukuga instead of gently overflowing, is probably due to the first burst having eroded a deeper channel; for, according to the geological nature of the Lukuga gap, so will the waters cut a deeper and deeper chasm, or eventually find a permanent level, and gently flow over a rocky sill. I cannot think that there could have been, just before the late bursting of the Lukuga, any more than a mere trickle of water through the obstruction there, and that of periodical occurrence and of but small account as a drainage of the lake. But what is still unaccounted for is this: before the time of Cameron's visit this periodical rising must have been infinitesimal, if any, compared with that of the few years immediately preceding the bursting of the Lukuga, or we must do away with the ancient character of the lake. I am convinced that the lake never (or at any rate, for very many years) was at such a height as it was two years ago. This is quite apart from any geological evidence of a different state of things in remote ages. And I cannot [p.42] believe that the lake has always been rising at this rate. Now, how is it that this enormous quantity of water could rise so quickly in spite of that evaporation which has (as is supposed) been sufficient for ages to maintain it almost at a level. A succession of extraordinary rainy seasons, of which we have no evidence, would not account for it. I can bear testimony to an enormous evaporation, but how is it that the waters suddenly gained upon the evaporation as they had never before done?"

Mr. Hore seems disposed to connect the changes of water-level with earthquake movements. At the time of writing (September 13th, 1880) the house in which he resided was shaking with earthquake, as it had been for several days before that date. He says, "The shocks cause the whole house to vibrate; the roof, a structure of beams, poles, and reeds, covered with earth, creaking like a huge basket." Some years previous, according to one of his Arab informants, there occurred an extraordinary disturbance of the lake waters, a long line of broken water being seen, like a reef, bubbling, and reeking with steam. The next morning all was tranquil, but the shore was strewn with masses of a substance resembling bitumen, specimens of which Mr. Hore had secured to bring with him to England.—Mr. Hore has sent home to the London Missionary Society an excellent map of the southern end of the lake, plotted during his cruise last spring in the Calabash, Latitude by stars N. and S. was observed at twelve different places, and the coast-line between them laid down by compass bearings.

 

ADDENDUM

EXPLORER AND MISSIONARY.

Captain Edward Coate Hore (whose death at Hobart was recently announced), was a well-known African explorer and missionary. He came of an old Cornish family, and was born at Islington on July 23, 1848. He was educated privately at Cambridge. Apprenticed at the age of 16 to the owner of a London ship, he visited nearly every part of the world, serving m more than 21 different vessels, from the small coasting schooner to the first-class mail steamer. He passed through all the grades—apprentice, able seaman, boatswain, third, second and chief officer, and master. Captain Hore was appointed in March, 1867, to. the London Missionary Society's pioneer expedition in Central Africa. He lived on the shores of Lake Tanganyika for about ten years, first at Ujiji, then at Numikorio, and subsequently at Kavala island. He surveyed the 1000 miles coastline of Lake Tanganyika in a little log canoe, and discovered the Lukuga to be the true outlet of the lake, m 1884 Captain Hore returned to England to report upon his work, in 1882 he took the sections of a steel lifeboat from Saadani to Ujiji. He finished the building of the steam yacht, the Good News, on Lake Tanganyika in 1888. He received a gold chronometer from the Government of the French Republic for assistance to the late Abbe Debaise, and in 1890 was awarded the Cuthbert Peek grant from the Royal Geographical Society. Captain Hore was the author of "Tanganyika: Eleven years in Central Africa." He also contributed to various journals articles descriptive and defensive, of the conditions and rights of the natives of Central Africa, for whom he had deep sympathy. The captain accepted a call to further work in the mission field in 1894, and was appointed chief officer of the steamship John Williams for the London Missionary's work in Polynesia. He retired from the sea a few years ago.