In text, image and video this website hopes to assemble a picture of the 19th century Swedish explorer, amateur naturalist, ornithologist, hunter and trader, Charles John Andersson, who was born in Värmland, Sweden in 1827 and who died on the Namibia/Angola border in 1867 at the age of 40.
Over the course of two year Mats Ögren Wanger, journalist and documentary film-maker and visual artist, Ann Gollifer, have travelled together in Botswana, Namibia, South Afrcia and Sweden in search of the people and places that hold the memory of this man. They have met with historians and archivists in Windhoek and visited Otjimbingwe in Central Namibia, trading post and home of Charles John Andersson in the mid 1860s. They have visited the Okavango and Lake Ngami in Botswana, the illusive water courses and rivers that defined his dogged explorations. They have visited the Dolobran House in Johannesburg, family seat of Andersson’s descendants in South Afrcia and consulted the National Archives in Cape Town, meeting with both Charles John Andersson’s and Hugo Hahn’s fourth generation grandchildren. They have travelled to Vänersborg in Sweden to see the museum collections and archives there and visited four of the childhood homes that Charles John Andersson shared with his father Llewellyn Lloyd.
“In answer to the question, “why spent all this time and energy on Charles John Andersson?”, we would say that we have made an attempt to better understand what kind of men drove pre-colonial exploration and subsequent colonial exansion in Africa through the study of one individual’s story, while understanding that his particular gaze was stained by his time and prejudices just as is, our own.”
Ann is a British- Caribbean visual artist who has lived and worked in Southern Africa since 1985, and is a permanent resident of Botswana. She uses photography and writing to inform her practice as a painter and print-maker. She has written and had published four books about the people and places in which she has lived and worked. Her work is coloured by her mixed heritage and a life lived in search of a sense of belonging and the concept of home.
Mats Ögren Wanger is a Swedish journalist, author and documentary film-maker based in Stockholm and is best known for his political debate books. Mats lived in Botswana in his late teens and early twenties, and that experience has shaped his life, work and interests since then. He continues to travel regularly between Europe and Africa researching projects and filming.
Both Ann and Mats found that the Charles John Andersson story resonated with their own experiences as non African residents-visitors in Southern Africa. They found parrallel and disonance that both connected with and jarred against their own histories. Only 170 years separates Charles John Andersson’s life experience with theirs. And as they travelled in search of this particular man they found that those years at times seemed to contract in on them and at other times to expand away. When Ann realised that her close friend and collaborator, composer and musician, Steve Dyer was a direct descendant of Hugo Hahn, Charles John Andersson’s confidant and eventual rival at the Otjimbingwe Trading Station, the years contracted. When she read Charles’s John Andersson’s books she discovered a man, sometimes capable of a self-deprecating humour and one who often felt awe in the face of the beauty and vigour of Africa’s wilderness and wildlife. But at the same time she discovered a man who enjoyed shooting animals as much for game as for necessity. He could describe the majestic beauty of a lion and then take aim and shoot it. It seems he was a terrible shot and left uncountable numbers to die painful and pointless deaths when he miss fired and then was unable to track the animal to its end. By all accounts Charles John Andersson was an insufferable snob and a self righteous prig. He viewed most of the African peoples he met as ignorant savages.
He served European science by mapping the land and collecting and recording its flora and fauna and was part of a wave of men that anticipated the expansion of European Colonialism in all its brutality throughout Africa for the next century.
“We look with fresh eyes and from our own perspective upon this history as we try to understand and mend the global inequalities and social injustices that are the outcome of that legacy.”
Ann Gollifer is a visual artist resident in Botswana since 1985. She was born in British Guiana in 1960. her Mother is Warao-Arawak, Amerindian from the Barima-Waini district of Guyana and her father is English from the county of Essex.
Mats Ögren Wanger is a Swedish journalist, author and documentary film-maker based in Stockholm, Sweden. He was born in 1969 and is best known for his political debate books.