“For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.” —Acts 18:10
Sickness Plagues the Niger Expedition,
September 4, 1841
est Africa has long been known as “the white man’s graveyard,” and for obvious and deadly reasons—fatal tropical diseases have plagued Europeans along those coasts for five hundred years. Until modern times, to visit a trading post, fort, naval port of call, or missions station along the central African Atlantic shore, risked acquiring fevers, parasites, hostile natives, and diseases for which the white man had neither immunity nor reliable cure. Nevertheless, Europeans were willing to risk all to acquire slaves for the Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and English colonies in the Americas.
The Niger Expedition of 1841: the Soudan, Albert and Wilberforce
Protestant missionaries began tentative evangelistic efforts among the tribes of West Africa beginning in the early 19th Century, and suffered the same hardships and diseases long endured by the traders and military men who docked along the Atlantic seaboard of the Dark Continent. When the movement in England to put an end to the slave trade finally reached fruition—primarily under the direction of aggressive and influential Christians and the organizations they formed for the purpose—practical steps were taken to make good the new policies of the British government. In 1840, three streams of Christian British concern, established missionary endeavor, humanitarian relief and reform, and abolition of the slave trade came together in an unprecedented expedition up the Niger River, sponsored and financed by the English government in conjunction with private ministries and interests.