Who ´discovered´ the Victoria Falls – Charles John Andersson?
At the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences with Karl Grandin, Current Director at the Centre for Historic Science, and Ann Gollifer.
The Centre for Historic Science at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences is the home of an enormous archive of objects, maps, drawings, and manuscripts. One of these objects is an original 19th century map of the interior of Southern Africa that has marked in place the geographical position of a massive waterfall called “ Mosi Oa Tunya”. This map was sent to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, in Stockholm from Cape Town by Charles John Andersson in 1852. The map was received by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1853 and duly locked away for safe keeping because within the 30 page letter from Andersson that came with the map was a request that the information therein remain unpublished. This was most likely because the map was one copied by Andersson from an original by Livingstone, marked with information that had yet to be verified by physical discovery. Livingstone did not set eyes upon Mosi Oa Tunya until 1855, despite the fact that he knew of its existence and location. He claimed the prize of being the first European to visit the falls and renamed them for his Queen. ‘Mosi Oa Tunya’ which in the Lozi language means ‘resounding smoke’, became the ‘Victoria Falls’. There is no record that Livingstone and Andersson ever met and to this day no one knows how Charles John Andersson came upon the original Livingstone map from which he made his copy.
Andersson never saw the falls himself, but he can be credited with being the first European explorer to send proof of their existence to Europe, two years prior to their physical substantiation by Livingstone to the Royal Geographical Society in London. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences seems not to have realised at the time the significance of the map and it was packed away and most likely, never looked at again.
That is until 2004 when Christer Blomstrand, a Swedish journalist who had been living and working in Botswana, South Africa and Namibia since the 1960s, was commissioned by the Swedish Embassy in Pretoria to search for any ‘ancient’ maps of Africa, in Swedish collections. The Speaker of Parliament in Cape Town, hoped to gather together a collection of old maps for exhibition, that would illustrate how European maps had defined the image of Africa for centuries. Christer contacted Karl Grandin, then Deputy Director at the Centre for Historic Science at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. On his arrival Karl presented Christer with an old cardboard box bound with string and together they opened it. Inside there were two old maps, each made up of many sections of cardboard, pasted onto a thin linen that could be folded neatly in upon itself without obscuring any detail in their folding. This structure was typical of early 19th century maps, made for easy carriage, annotation and editing, throughout journeys that might last months if not years. A letter of thirty pages accompanied the two maps. Charles John Andersson’s signature graced both maps and the letter,and it seemed likely that all three items had been lying inside the box since 1853, quite forgotten.
The first to be opened was a map of the South West of Africa that upon consultation with the Namibian historian, Gunther von Schumann in Windhoek, turned out to be one of the earliest maps of that area in existence. The second was Andersson’s handmade copy of Livinstone’s map bearing the position of the fabulous waterfall ‘Mosi Oa Tunya”.
Artist Joe Rogge did this video inspired by birds at Vänersborg Museum in Sweden.
Narrative for artwork to be exhibited at Vänersborg Museum
Our task for this exhibition is to “deconstruct the image of Etosha as an untouched and timeless wilderness” and to “broaden the historical and contemporary story of the area and provide new inputs and to present a different picture of Namibia than the one currently shown at Vänersborg Museum”.
My research takes as its starting point the 1000 birds of the Eriksson Collection that have been entombed in the museum since 1836 as well as the Andersson map of the area (1853).
The Vänersborg Museum kindly provided a list of the Latin names of the birds and I researched the common names in English. From a cross-section of the total birds, I selected 10 specimens and matched them to their unique call, with the idea to ‘liberate’ the birds through sound.
This has resulted in a conceptual piece that links both audio and visual rendering of sound to the discourse on the perception of the landscape of Etosha from the viewpoint of the visitor and the original inhabitants of the area, the Hai//om.
In the introduction to ‘African Landscapes – Interdisciplinary Approaches’, Michael Bollig speaks of colonial expeditions as being primarily exercises in ‘in-scription’. By framing their enterprises as scientific research, and “putting names on a map and native words on a list…they laid the first and deepest foundations for colonial power” and exercised this power in a “pure and subtle form – as the power to name, to describe, to classify.”
Namibian researcher Ute Dieckmann in her chapter: The Spectator’s and the Dweller’s
Perspectives: Experience and Representation of the Etosha National Park, in the same book, speaks of the landscape of Etosha as being merely “a stage for the daylight and nightly performance of African Animals”, with tourists entirely disregarding the fact that historically and culturally, people and animals are integral to this particular landscape.
She argues that already during the time of the Swedish explorers, “the actual landscape experience was guided by culturally embedded epistemic structures”, and the landscape serving as mere background.
In the same book, Bollig speaks of the appropriation of the northern Namibian floodplain by Galton and Andersson and their erasure of the “autochthonous readings of the landscape through a discourse of blankness” which is in sharp contrast to the perception of the landscape by the original indigenous inhabitants.
For the Hai//om, “the landscape is constituted by a multitude of features (topographical, vegetational, faunistic, and historical in the sense of including humans) organized around a network of paths both of human and wildlife origin,” and “is charged with emotion and personal identities.”
Working from the printed sonograms of the selected birdcalls, I have created 10 pencil drawings that suggest and are reminiscent of landscape. The audio component of the installation contains these as well as generic bird sound as would be found at Etosha.
In conceptualizing this work, the dichotomies in the perception of the landscape by the ‘spectator and the dweller’, restructuring of the landscape through colonial conquest and mapping and the material evidence of these, the Andersson map and the Eriksson bird collection, come full circle.
At Llewellyn Lloyd´s tomb at Västra Tunnhem in Sweden
Llewellyn Lloyd died in 1876 and his tomb, erected by his grandson Sir Charles Llewellyn Andersson in 1905, is situated at Västra Tunhem in the Vänersborg Kommun.
Sir Charles Llewellyn Andersson, Charles John Andersson’s son helped raise, serve in and later commanded the South African Light Horse Regiment and after the occupation of Johannesburg, during the Boer war of 1899-1902, returned to civilian life, assisting the military administration as a Justice of the Peace. He was a prominent figure in the mining and financial world of Johannesburg in the early 1900s, amassing a fortune from speculation and an exceptional accountancypractice. He built the Dolobran House in Johannesburg as his family seat in South Africa in 1906, a year after paying for the erection of his grandfather’s tomb in Västra Tunhem, Sweden. In 1919 he travelled to the border between South West Africa and Portuguese Angola, in search of his father’s grave and was shown the site by ‘Cocky’ Hahn, the grandson of Carl Hugo Hahn. Twenty years later in 1939 he commissioned a stone and cross to be raised on the gravesite that was then enclosed by an iron paling.
Due to the inaccessibility of the site on the boundary between what is now Namibia and Angola, and the war that ensued in Angola, any recorded visits to the gravesite of Charles John Andersson throughout the 20th century were singular. But in 2007 Namibian Historian, Gunter von Schumann and his wife Julia, Swedish Journalist Christer Blomstrand and Lena Johansson Blomstrand, Charge de Affaires of the Swedish Embassy in Namibia, and Pastor Shekutaamba Nambala, from Ondangwa on the Namibian side of the border visited the site, guided by Sarafina Tuningeni a resident of Ongonga, the nearest settlement to the site on the Angolan side of the border. Her knowledge of its whereabouts had been handed down to her from her parents.
In 1830 Lloyd rented the manors of Rånnum, where he lived with his young son Charles John Andersson.
A conversation between artist Ann Gollifer and Peter Johansson, the head of the Vänersborgs museum.
When the British nobleman Llewellyn Lloyd moved to the Vänersborg area in Sweden in 1830, it was salmon-fishing in the Göta Älv that attracted Lloyd. He rented the manors of Rånnum and lived there for some years with his young son, Charles John Andersson. Lloyd became a famous explorer in Sweden and his son Andersson became an even more famous explorer in southern Africa. Both published several books describing the exotic worlds they encountered on their travels. Lloyd recorded his impressions of Swedish landscapes and people and C.J. Andersson those of southern Africa.
Steve Dyer on Hugo Hahn
Carl Hugo Hahn (1818–1895) was a German missionary and linguist who worked in South Africa and South-West Africa for most of his life. In September 1864, Charles John Andersson sold all his business in Otjimbingwe to the Rheinische Missionsgesellschaft, represented by Carl Hugo Hahn.
Carl Hugo Hahn is known for his scientific work on the Herero language.
Steve Dyer is a South African music composer, performer, conceptualiser, director and producer. He is also the great, great, grandson of Emma and Carl Hugo Hahn.
Steve began composing music at 10 and he taught himself to play the guitar at 11. He grew up in Pietermaritzburg, listening to his parents’ collection of Classical, European LPs and to the sounds of the street, maskandi musicians and kwela on the radio. He gained first class honours from Natal University for a Bachelor’s degree in musical performance, majoring in saxophone and flute. He left South Africa for Botswana refusing conscription and became involved in the ‘Symposium for Cultural Resistance’ hosted in Gaborone in 1982. He became part of an exile music scene that included Hugh Masekela and Jonas Gwangwa. Steve moved to Zimbabwe in 1988 and formed the group Southern Freeway. In 1990 he joined the Amandla Cultural Ensemble of the ANC on a 7 week tour to Japan. On this tour he met his future wife Refiloe Mabaso, a performer, dancer and singer with Amandla. Throughout his career Steve has consistently produced music with the other talents surrounding him as well as his own solo works. He played a major role in the Mahube project of 1997, the first substantive Southern African music collaboration. He produced the seminal work ‘Tuku music’ as well as 4 other albums with Oliver Mtukudzi. Steve’s life and work is epitomised by the new world musical ‘Colour me human’ that he conceptualised, directed and performed and which was nominated for 5 Naledi theatre awards: Best ensemble, music score, music director, choreographer, animation/AV. His music is his truth, and through this truth he continually works towards a sentient existence that is inclusive, creative and all encompassing.
Otjimbingwe – once the capitol of Namibia
In April 1860 Charles John Andersson bought the Walvis Bay Mining Company’s interests at Otjimbingwe and set up a large trading centre there. In the same year Andersson married Sarah Jean Aitchison and together they settled in Otjimbingwe, on the bank of the Swakop river.
Antje Otto from the National Museum in Windhoek
Antje Otto from the National Museum in Windhoek talks about Charles John Andersson and his wife Sarah Jane Aitchisons mirror from their home in Otjimbingué in Damaraland.
Gunter Von Schumann about Charles John Andersson
We travelled to Windhoek to interview Gunter Von Schumann, librarian at the Namibia Scientific Society. In this interview Gunter talks about Andersson’s legacy with reference to the controversial map marking the Victoria Falls made in 1852 and also his collection and cataloguing the of birds of southwestern Africa.