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Number: 3977
Continent: Africa
Region: East
Place Names: Kenya, Uganda, Kisumu, Mombasa
Year of Origin: 1913
Title: Mombasa-Victoria (Uganda) Railway and Busoga Railway.
Language: English
Publish Origin: Southhampton
Height: 49.7
Width: 80.0
Units: centimeters
Size Class.: Medium
Scale: 1 : 1,500,000
Color Type: Outline Color
Images of this map are not yet available.
Cartographer: Geographical Section, War Office UK
Engraver: Ordnance Survey Office
Publisher: Geographical Section, War Office UK
Other Contributors:
Northernmost Latitude: 2.0
Southernmost Latitude: -4.7
Westernmost Longitude: 30.0
Easternmost Longitude: 40.5
Measurement Notes: on map
Notes: [Dasa Pahor and Alex Johnson source] A very rare, authoritative map of the Mombasa-Uganda Railway, the project that connected the Indian Ocean to Lake Victoria and started the creation of modern Kenya and Uganda, made by the British War Office and predicated upon the best surveys' it appeared on the eve of World War I, when the railway was a target of German General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck's raids. At the Berlin Conference (1884-5), whereby the European powers divided Africa amongst themselves into colonial holdings, Britain was awarded what is today Kenya and Uganda. Uganda became a British Protectorate in 1894, while what would become Kenya (in 1920) was known as the East Africa Protectorate. The East Africa Protectorate was home to the stellar natural harbour of Mombasa (the protectorate?s first capital), as well as millions of acres of glorious, but undeveloped (at least by European standards) ranchland in the interior, while Uganda was a lush and verdant land that Winston Churchill would later describe as the ?Pearl of Africa?. T he problem was that the interior, even a little way inland from the Indian Ocean coastline, was almost inaccessible. Even short journeys took many days through rough country inhabited by sometimes inhospitable locals and plagued by tropical diseases. To consolidate Britain?s hold upon its new realm, in 1890 the colonial authorities completed the Mackinnon-Sclater Road, a 970 km-long ox cart road that ran from Mombasa all the way across the protectorate to Busa, on Lake Victoria. However, while this represented a major improvement, it would not suffice to ensure commodious transportation and the maintenance of imperial authority. In December 1891, Captain James Macdonald commenced a survey for the route of a proposed railway from Mombasa to Lake Victoria. Macdonald and his men trekked almost 7,000 km of trails across the country, leading to the first mapping of the interior of what is today Kenya. They settled upon the ideal route for the railway, and authorization, funding and technical support from Britain followed. Construction of the Mombasa-Uganda Railway, often simply known as the ?Uganda Railway?, commenced in 1896, and by 1901 the 1,060 km route from Mombasa to Kisumu, on Lake Victoria, was completed. From Kisumu, a steamship ferry system was established to facilitate transportation to Uganda and other points on the lake. In the coming years, the Bugosa Railway was bult in Uganda, along the Victoria Nile, from the port of Jinja to Namasagali. T he railways utterly transformed Uganda and the East Africa Protectorate, unlocking the interior to development. Nairobi, founded as a railway depot in 1899, at a malaria-free elevation of 1,795 metres, grew rapidly, becoming the place most favoured by the British in the colony. It was made the protectorate?s capital in 1907 and eventually grew to be the commercial and cultural centre of East Africa (today it has a population of over 4.5 million). The railways also allowed Britain to rush troops into the heart of Africa, maintaining their authority in what was an inherently unstable land, home to restless indigenous nations and coveted by rival European powers. During World War I, whereupon East Africa was major theatre, the Uganda Railway played a central role. In the early days of the conflict, the brilliant guerilla fighter, the German General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, shocked the British by invading the East Africa Protectorate from German East Africa (Tanganyika), striking and temporarily disabling the line at several points. The British thus had to dedicate scarce manpower to repairing the line, which remained vital to their ability to move troops and defend their frontier. As the war dragged on, the conflict moved further south, taking the railway and the East Africa Protectorate out of danger. In the coming years, the Mombasa-Uganda Railway system was substantially expanded, with branch lines and an extension around the top of Lake Victoria, eventually connecting to the Ugandan capital of Kampala. The system continues to operate to the present day (but generally running on a new set of tracks on slightly different routes), playing a major role in the economy and society of East Africa. The Present Map in Focus Importantly, the present map was that which was used by senior British commanders in East Africa, as well as politicians at Westminster, to provide the authoritative strategic overview of the battle theatre in the region during the early days of World War I. T he map shows what is today?s southern Kenya and much of Uganda with great accuracy, predicated upon the best available surveys. The protectorates are shown divided into provinces, with the region?s dramatic topography clearly expressed, with the mountains expressed by hachures. Innumerable towns and villages are marked, along with hundreds of trekking paths traversing the countryside. T he route of the Mombasa-Uganda Railway, expressed as a bold black line, is shown to snake across the southern band of the East Africa Protectorate, from Mombasa up to Kisumu, on Lake Victoria. Normal stations along the line are labelled with dots, while ?Head Quarters Stations?, including the East Africa Protectorate?s capital, Nairobi, are noted as double dots. The map also charts Captain Macdonald?s initial route for the railway, realized in 1892, as well as marking telegraph lines. Steamship routes are delineated on Lake Victoria, including the critical connection between Kisumu and the Bugosa Railway in Uganda. A Note on Editions and Rarity T he present work superseded various earlier maps of the Mombasa-Uganda Railway, including those published by the War Office. As best as we are aware, the map was issued in three editions, in 1913 (as here), 1916 and 1918. All editions of the map are very rare. We can trace only 3 institutional examples of the present 1913 first edition, held by the British Library; Biblioth?ue nationale de France; and the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin. Moreover, we cannot trace any sales records for any other examples, in any of the three editions. References: British Library: Cartographic Items Maps MOD GSGS 2687; Biblioth?ue nationale de France: GE C-4347; Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin: Kart. C 16724/64; OCLC: 124158001, 921705728, 1237630441.
Last updated: Feb 4, 2022