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Recommended Reading 1
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Black Tie International - Recommended Reading
Crossing the Heart of Africa


 
“Crossing the Heart of Africa:

 

“Crossing the Heart of Africa:
An Odyssey of Love and Adventure”


This is a true-life love story and a tale of famous exploration.
Dashing and handsome British explorer,
Ewart Grogan  
 was the first man to traverse the entire continent of Africa –
 all for the woman he loved.

 

Julian Smith in Rwanda with gorilla

Julian Smith in Rwanda with gorilla

 


Ewart Grogan was one of the most swashbuckling and controversial figures of African colonial history. A gentleman adventurer in the Elizabethan tradition, it was once said of him that he belonged to a type who either ended up buried in Westminster Abbey-or hanging from a yard-arm.

As one of twenty-one children of Queen Victoria's Surveyor-General, Grogan had to confront the question of whether to sink or swim early in life. He chose to follow the example of his headstrong Irish forebears, and swim. By the age of twenty-one he had: already been elected the youngest ever member of the Alpine Club; been sent down from Cambridge for his predilection for practical jokes; walked out of the Slade School of Art; and had become a veteran of the 1896 Matabele War, during which he served in Cecil Rhodes' personal escort.

In order to recover from his experiences as a "bloody trooper", Grogan took a sea voyage to New Zealand, where he fell in love with Gertrude Watt. But Gertrude's stepfather was not impressed by Grogan's credentials and told him that if he wanted her hand in marriage he had better prove himself. Grogan responded to this challenge with characteristic flamboyance, declaring that he intended to be the first man totrek from Cape Town to Cairo.

Having already completed the first leg of the trek (from Cape Town to Beira) during the Matabele War Grogan returned to Beira in February 1898 to start the 4,000-mile second leg to Cairo.

It was an expedition which called for the greatest powers of endurance, bravery and resourcefulness. Grogan  was bedeviled by ill-luck and the continual threat to their well-being posed by wild animals, successive bouts of malaria and dysentery, over-attentive Baleka cannibals, and the theft of vital pieces of equipment.

In early 1900 Grogan returned to London a hero. He became the youngest man ever to address the Royal Geographical Society, and later in the year published the best-selling account of his trek, From The Cape to Cairo, before embarking on a lecture tour of America. In October, having proved his mettle, Grogan married Gertrude.

After serving in Lord Milner's elite "Kindergarten", the body charged with the post-war reconstruction of South Africa, Grogan became one of the pioneer white settlers in Kenya. There he and Lord DeIamere vied with each other as to who could do the most to further colonization. Grogan's contribution was colossal. It included founding the country's timber and building materials industries, stocking its first trout, building its first deep-water port, and being one of its largest sisal growers. His foresight was so great that it was widely said of him that he was fifty years ahead of his time. In politics he was always to the fore as a public speaker and economist, and he served with distinction in World War I, earning the DSO.

After more than 60 years of usually controversial prominence in Kenyan public life, Grogan died unnoticed in Cape Town in 1967, aged 92. Asked in later life to reveal the secret of his longevity, Grogan replied, "to smoke very heavily, drink and eat very little, and not take anything in life too seriously".

 



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