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GORDON Alexander Leng

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Biography GORDON Alexander Leng
Lang was born in Edinburgh (Scotland). In 16 years he was hired in the British army and served in Sierra Leone-British colony in West Africa. In 1820 he was a lieutenant and served as adjutant to the governor-general of West Africa. Solve the problem of the Niger and visit the mysterious Timbuktu was a dream of his life. However, he submitted the command in 1821, a draft research expedition to Timbuktu was rejected.

At this time the ruler of the country Mandingo led civil war with one of their principal chiefs. The war dealt a severe blow Trade Sierra Leone. Governor-General, wishing to improve matters, sent an embassy to the camp Mandingo. The head of the embassy was appointed Leng. At the same time requesting him to get acquainted with the economic situation of the country and its geography.

During this visit, Lang found that many people from the tribe has Sulima and gold and ivory. This led him to suggest to invite the Governor to undertake a study of the country, lying to the east of Sierra Leone. The plan was approved by Lang.

The journey began in April 1822 and lasted for several months. April 16 Leng Rokelle sailed down the river and soon arrived at Rokon, the main city of the country Thiemann. Like other travelers in Africa, . Lang had a long dispute regarding payment for the right of passage for any territory and haggling with porters, . but due to its hardness, he was able to protect themselves from extortion Negro chiefs,
. Our road lay through Tom Lang, . have never seen a white man, . continue through Balandeko, . Roketchnik, . Mabung, . located on the other side fairly wide river, . which runs north of the river Rokelle, . and, . Finally, . Ma, Yossi - the big city on the border Thiemann,

Traveler learned of the existence in these parts of a secret society "purra". In Koranko Leng visited Ma-boom, then Kufulu, where he met a favorable reception, crossed the foothills Koranko and stopped in Simeri. Here Leng visited Tongolele source - the river, which flows into Rokelle, and left Koranko, came to earth Suliman. Leng visited Semb, rich and populated city, and finally arrived in the main city Suliman - Falabu, whence, as he was told, was only three days' journey to the source Djoliba (Niger).

The Sultan expressed his special respect. He called many units of troops and gave them to review. Lang used the festive mood and asked the Sultan's permission to visit the origins of the Niger. Sultan objected, citing the danger of this enterprise. But, seeing that the traveler insists, and, having decided that "his heart was weary of the water, gave permission Leng. But in less than two hours, as permission had already been canceled.

Few days later Leng allowed to visit the source of the river Rokelle (Sala-Congo): its course no one has yet investigated. Leng vysyaschuyusya seen at a distance of about 40 kilometers uphill Loma - the highest summit Leone-Liberian array and the whole of West Africa to the west of Cameroon, on the opposite side of the mountain, according to information it received, and took the beginning of Niger.

"I pointed out - he wrote Leng, - a place where begins Niger. It is located, apparently, at an altitude of about 1600 feet above sea level (on the same, on what at the time I was standing), because the origins Rokelle, according to my measurements are at a height of 1400 feet. Konkodongore the exact position and altitude at which I was myself (the first - on the basis of measurement by calculating the second), I easily found the coordinates of the mountain Loma. It is unlikely that I was very wrong in assuming that the origins of the Niger are at 9 б╟ 25 'north latitude and 9 б╟ 45' west longitude,.

September 17 Leng moved back to Sierra Leone.

Trip Lang was important: he opened the country, which has not yet penetrated no European. He described its natural wealth, manners and class residents. At the same time have been studied over the origins of Rokelle and first obtained accurate data on the origins of the Niger. Lang's book "Travels in the country Thiemann, Kuranko and Sulima in West Africa" was published in London in 1825.

In the same year, Leng, already in the rank of major, led a British expedition, which was intended to Timbuktu. In the interval between its two research voyages Lang has visited the Gold Coast and took on the duty participation in the war against the British African state Ashanti.

The man who discovered the mystery of Timbuktu, waited Prize in 3000 and 10,000 francs, established by the Geographical Society of England and France. Lang had intended to enter in Timbuktu from the Atlantic coast, but the higher-ups was chosen "Mediterranean" alternative route.

June 17, 1825 Leng sailed for Tripoli. From there he went on a journey across the Sahara. After going to Tripoli from the northern edge of Fezzan, the expedition moved out west for a new European way - through the oases of Ghadames and Ain-Salah. Having lived in Ain-Salah from November 1825 until January 1826, reached the oasis of Tuat Leng, whence he intended to go to Timbuktu, Djennц╘, or bypass Lake Debo, to visit the region Melly. Then he wanted to go back, get to Sokoto, visit the Lake Chad and try to go to the Nile.

However, when the caravan, joined by Leng, left Tuat, he was attacked by Tuareg. One of the expedition members was killed, severely injured himself Leng. Soon dysentery claimed the grave all the rest of his companions. Despite all that, Lang was able to complete the difficult and dangerous crossing of the Sahara and to join August 13, 1826 in the city of his dreams - Timbuktu. Obviously, he was the first European after Benedetto Dei (1469), which came there voluntarily.

In Timbuktu Leng has been gradually recovering from the wounds. His recovery was slow, but thanks to letters of recommendation, brought from Tripoli, and committed the care of his master patient had not been harassed by local residents.

After examining the details of Timbuktu, Leng, the night went to Cabra to see Djoliba (Niger). Lang did not want to go back to Europe through the Great Desert, and hoped to visit Jenny and Him, and then go to the French settlements on the Senegal. In a letter to the British Consul in Tripoli, dated September 21, 1826, Leng said that he intends to move to Segu in the upper reaches of the Niger. It was the only letter written by him from Timbuktu, and the last, which was generally received from him.

Five days after Lang left Timbuktu, to his caravan joined a fanatical Islamist, Sheikh Hamed Ould Habib, chief of the tribe zauat. Under the pretext that the Leng though without permission entered the territory of this tribe, he was seized and offered to accept Islam. Lang refused and said that he preferred death defection. On the spot on the orders of Sheikh Leng was strangled by two slaves, and his body thrown into the wilderness. All expedition materials disappeared.

In 1930, after more than 100 years after the death of Lang in Timbuktu, on the wall of the house where he lived, was strengthened by a plaque with the inscription: "Major Alexander Gordon Lang, the 2 nd West Indies Regiment, the first European who has reached Timbuktu .

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