Famous explorers in West Africa : chronology




Illustration from "Life and travels of Mungo Park" - Mungo Park, Edinburgh, W. P. Nimmo, 1872. [bibliography]


© Bnf - Gallica

Famous explorer Mungo Park overlapping in the African jungle and seeing a lion.


Expeditions, scoutings or military explorations


V° century B.C.


dot First attempt of Africa's circumnavigatio by Hanno the Navigator, Carthaginian suffet.


dot Foundations of Carthaginian colonies (Kerne on Rio-de-Oro area - Casamance today) ; near Sierra Leone and Cherbo island, the expedition has to go back because of lack of resources.


Periplus of Hanno (translated in a Greek text near 465 from a Punic inscription)

II° B.C.


dot Presumed expedition near African West Coast by Eudoxe de Cyzique (contested by Strabon).


dot Strabo, Geography


dot Abu Obeid Al Bakri visits Gao, Ghana, kingdoms of Do and Malel, and Tadmekka (Es Souk) ;


dot Al Zuhri enters in Mema, first capital of Mali.

dot  Abu Obeid Al Bakri, Kitab al-Masalik wa-al-Mamalik,

(The Book of Routes and Kingdoms) - 1068


dot Al Zuhri

End of XII°-XIV°

dot Many Arab travellers in Mali ;


dot Ibn Battuta lives at Souleymane Keita's court (1352-1353) ; he visits Timbuktu, Gao and writes a relation of his travel : Gift offered to observers : wonders seen in the countries and travels (1357)

dot Abu al Fida, Takuyn al Sûdan (Geography of Black Men countries) - 1321


dot Catalan Atlas called Atlas of Charles V (1339-1370) - Abraham Cresques


dot Al Ûmari,

Routes and glances on Worldwide Kingdoms (1342-1349)




dot Anselme d'Isalguier, a nobleman from Toulouse (France) established himself in Gao and married there a Songhoï princess.


dot 1445 : Expedition of João Fernandez starting from Rio-de-Oro : Sahara exploration during 7 months ; the same year, Luiggi said Alvisse Ca Da Mosto and Genoese captain Uso di Mare, Italian seamen working for the Portuguese king, (Henry the Navigator) discover «Cabo Verde» islands and explore Senegal and Gambia rivers areas.


dot 1446 : (Denis) Dinis Diaz reaches Senegal river mouth : foundation of first Portuguese trading agencies.


dot 1448 : Exploration of African West Coast towards Gambia river by Lançarote (Lancerot).


dot 1460 : Diego Gomez discover Sierra Leone mountain.


dot 1462 : Pedro de Cintra explores « Cabo de las Palmas » coastline (Liberia today).


dot 1470 : Benedetto Dei, merchant from Florence (Italy) goes to Timbuktu.


dot 1486 : Juan Alfonso d'Avaro discovers Benin kingdom.


dot 1487 : Expedition of Pero d'Evora and Gonsalvez Eannes to Tombouctou starting from Senegal.


dot 1486-1488 : Double circumnavigatio of Africa by Bartholoméu Diaz (starting from West) and Pierre de Covilham (starting from Red Sea coastline) ; « Cape of Storms » is discovered and baptized « Cape of Good Hope » by the Portuguese king.



dot Valentin Fernandez, Description of African Coast from Ceuta to Senegal (1507)


dot Alvisse Ca Da Mosto, Portuguese explorer, Navigatio ad terras ignotas or Relation of Travels on African West Coast (1507-1508)


dot Al Hassan Ibn Muhammad Al Wazzan Az Zayyati alias « Jean Leo Africanus » in Sudan.

dot Mahmud Kaati, Tarîk el- Fettash (1520-1591)


dot Leo Africanus, Description of Africa and notable things which are there (1526)




dot 1694 : Andre Brue, administrator of the Royal Senegalese Company ; at Kaïnoura, he builds the stronghold of Saint-Pierre on the borders of Faleme river (1714).


dot Michel Jajolet, Sieur de La Courbe, governor at Saint Louis for the Senegalese Company.


1659 : Stronghold of Saint-Louis by L. Caullier.


dot 1673 : Senegalese Company by Colbert. Senegal is sold to that Company.


The First Journey of Sieur de La Courbe made in Africa Coast (1685)



dot 1719 : Compagnon, mineralogist researcher, explores Bambouk area.


dot Tinstall de la Tour is scouting in Khasso.


dot Estoupan de la Brue, Duliron (1747), Aussenac and Doit (1756) exploring Bambouk.


dot 1779 : Saint-Louis is stormed again to the English by duc de Lauzun. Dumontet, first governor of the colony.


dot 1785-1788: Knight de Boufflers, governor of Senegal.


dot Letters of countess de Sabran and knight de Boufflers (1778-1788)


dot Bosman G., «A New and Accurate Description of the Coast of Guinea» (1721)



dot First expedition of Scottish doctor Mungo Park ; he explores Khasso, Kaarta, Sansanding and reaches Bamako (1795-1797)


dot 1805- 1806 : Second expedition of Mungo Park ; when he attempted to go down the Niger river, he died drowned in the rapids of Boussa.


Mungo Park, Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa- 1795-1796 (1800)



dot 1818 : Gaspard Mollien, clerk of the French navy, explores Galam and Bambouk.


dot 1820 : Leblanc, frigate captain, goes upstream of Faleme river.


dot 1825 : Clapperton, English explorer, from Tripoli, reaches the Niger river.

Adam R., New journey in the Interior Africa during 1810-1814 (1846)


Gray William, Voyage dans l'Afrique occidentale : pendant les années 1818, 1819, 1820 et 1821, depuis la rivière Gambie jusqu'au Niger.



dot Rene Caille in Timbuktu in April 1828.


dot Duranton, in mission with Grout de Beaufort and Montesquieu then Tourette scouting in Kasso.


Rene Caille, Relation of a travel to Timbuktu and Jenne (1830)




dot Anne Raffenel, Navy chief commander, with Janin et Potin-Patterson (trader) carries out 2 expeditions in Kaarta (1842-1843 et 1842- 1847).


Anne Raffenel, Travel in Western Africa, including exploration of Senegal (1856)



dot 1854-1861 : Faidherbe, appointed as governor of Senegal then, governor of High- Senegal in 1863 to 1865.


dot 1857 : Faidherbe unloaded at Medine, flies on help to Paul Holle, Chief commander of Medine's stronghold, besieged : liberation of Medine.


dot German explorer Heinrich Barth in Timbuktu in September 1863.


dot 1864-1866 : mission of lieutenant Mage and doctor Quintin (ordered by Faidherbe) towards Amadou in Segou.


dot 1878-1879 : mission of Paul Soleillet. He arrives at Segou in 1878 then comes back to Bakel (1879).


dot 1879-1880 : scouting missions by Zweifel, Moustier, lieutenants Pietri, Jacquemart, Monteil, Marchi and Jovin.


dot 1880 : Austrian explorer Oskar Lenz at Timbuktu and Nioro.


dot 1879-1881: mission of Gallieni in Mali : beginning of French colonial conquest.


dot Barth H., Travels and Discoveries in Septentrional and Central Africa during years 1849 to 1855 (1855)


dot Mage E., From Senegal to Niger. Relation of the scouting travel of MM. Mage and Quintin in West Sudan from 1863 to 1866 (1868)


dot Morifignang Diabate, composes Keme BouremaThis song tells about Fabou (Faboli) Daboloba Toure, so-called Keme Birama who was the younger brother of Samory Toure... Read more.

1881- 1898


dot 1883 : Borgnis-Desbordes, Chief Commander of the High-River, takes Bamako, after his arrival 3 years ago.

dot 1883-1888 : Colonel Boileve, Chief Commander of the High-River then Combes, (1884-1885), then colonel Frey (1885-1886), and Gallieni (1886-1888).


dot 1887 : military mission of Davoust, navy lieutenant (Froger howitzer).


dot 1887 : scouting mission of Caron, navy lieutenant.


dot 1887-1889 : Binger, French explorer, visits Bamako, Sikasso, Kong, Bobo-Dioulasso and Mossi areas.


dot 1890 : peaceful and humanitary missions of Deves-Chaumet and doctor Crozat.


dot 1888-1895 : Archinard, Chief Commander of the French Sudan. Stormings of Segou, Koniakari (1890) and Bissandougou (1891); «pacification» of Toucouleur Empire of El Hadj Omar.


dot 1891 : military missions of Jaime, then captain Quinquandon with Crozat and lieutenant Marchand. Marchand stays at Sikasso bargaining a treaty with Tieba.


dot 1891 : mission of Monteil towards Say.


dot 1892-1894 : military expeditions of Bonnier against SamoryThe story of Samory is told by the epic song Keme Bourema. That song tells about Fabou (Faboli) Daboloba Toure, so-called Keme Birama who was the younger brother of Samory Toure... Read more..


dot 1895-1899 : Colonel de Trentinian, governor of the French Sudan.


dot 1896 : scouting mission of Hourst, vessel lieutenant : exact drawing of Niger river's map.


dot 1897: military mission of lieutenant Wirth.


dot 1898 : Storming of Sikasso by colonel Audeoud (May). Capture of Samory's camp at Guemou and his arrestation (September).

dot Gallieni, A Journey to French Sudan (High-Niger and Segou area), 1879-1885 (1885) - Two campaigns in Sudan, 1886-1888 (1891)


dot Soleillet P., Journey to Segou (1887)


dot Bechet E., Five years in French Sudan (1889)


dot Colonel Frey, West Coast of Africa (1890)


dot Peroz, In Sudan, war and missions memories (1889) - In Niger. Stories of campaign - 1891-1892 (1895)


dot Binger L.G., From Niger river to Guinea Gulf (1891)


dot Quinquandon F. History of the Manding warcraft and tradition. The Traore in Kenedougou... (1892)


dot Jaime, From Koulikoro toTimbuktu with howitzer le Mage (1894)


dot Tellier G., Nearby Kita. A Sudanese study (1898)


Bah Djaly, jèlía jèlí (plural, jèlílu) is a bard, loremaster, and praise-singer in the Manding areas whose functions are story-telling, speaking about lineages, singing and playing music as he want and hear it... Read more. of the king Abdou N'DiayeThis song is dedicated to Abdou Ndiaye (1850 ? -1925). Abdou Ndiaye was a Muslim trader, a trader quickly especially in the slave trade, initially installed at Bougouli in the Middle Casamance... Read more composes an epic eponymous song in glory of his djatiguia (d)jatigui is a patron or a family ; in honor of him (them), in exchange for benefits and a certain material comforts, the griot should use to sing, at will, his praise and eulogy of his clan... Read more..

Synthesis of :
- Konare Alfa Omar & Adam, Les grandes dates de l'histoire du Mali, passim [bibliography]
    - De Benoist Joseph-Roger, Le Mali, p.35 - 77 - 84 - 85 [bibliography]



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