Yet Another Scot, I Presume. the Unsung Pioneer of East Africa; Explorer: Joseph Thomson Recognition: Thomsons Story Will Be Told on TV

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Byline: Sarah Bruce

POPULAR history hails David Livingstone and Mungo Park as the Scots whohelped open Africa to the world.

But less well known is a stonemason s son from Dumfriesshire who had just asmuch impact.

In his brief life, Joseph Thomson covered 15,000 miles on the continent,befriended the Maasai people and charted the virgin territories of East Africa.

Now the unsung hero is being recognised in a documentary retracing his mostimportant expedition.

Photographer Mike Hacker repeated Thomsons journey to open the Maasaiterritories of East Africa in the 19th century.

The story of his travels from Mombasa in Kenya to Lake Victoria will bescreened this month albeit with the help of all-terrain vehicles.

Mr Hacker said: I found out about what Joseph Thomson had done and I becamecompletely obsessed with the story.

This mans achievements were immense. He came 15 years after the romantic era ofHenry Stanley and David Livingstone but what he did was as good as, or better,than what they managed.

He travelled through a notoriously dangerous piece of country and he didnt doit aggressively or with violence. From his distinctly unexotic b i r t h inPenpont, D u m-friesshire, on Valentines Day, 1858, Thomson was obsessed withtravel and discovery.

His inquiring mind took him to Edinburgh University to study geology andnatural history and he then begged his way on to his first Royal GeographicalSociety (RGS) expedition to East Africa in 1878.

Thomson became expedition leader at the age of 21, after the death of hissuperior, and returned to Britain a hero. …