Sidi Mubarak Bombay
Sidi Mubarak Bombay (1820–1885) was an African guide who participated in numerous expeditions by 19th century British explorers to East Africa. Without doubt, he the greatest explorer-guide of Africa in the 19th Century. His remarkable leadership and organization skills helped many European explorers to 'rediscover" Africa and make the ludicrous claims that they had first discovered existing African-named geographical landmarks which they renamed with European names of themselves, their sponsors and rulers. However, Sidi, to date has no monument erected and places named after him
He was a waYao, born in 1820 on the border of Tanzania and Mozambique and as a young boy was captured by Arab slavers. His captors made him march to the slave market in Kilwa, where he was sold in exchange for some cloth, never again to see his family. Next he was sailed on a dhow to the Gujarat area of India. His owner gave him the slave name of ‘Mubarak’. Bombay lived as a slave in India many years and learned Hindi. He was emancipated after his owner died, and returned to Africa.
In Africa, Bombay met John Hanning Speke, who asked him to join his expedition to find the source of the Nile River. Bombay and Speke communicated with each other in Hindi, as it was the only language both of them understood. Bombay was well regarded by the British explorers; in the words of Burton, "The gem of the party, however, is one Sidi Mubarak, who has taken to himself the agnomen of 'Bombay.'" Between 1856 and 1876, Bombay participated in expeditions by Speke and other English explorers, including Richard Francis Burton, Henry Morton Stanley and Verney Lovett Cameron. When Stanley went in search of David Livingstone, Bombay was appointed chief of the caravan. In 1873 Bombay walked across the continent of Africa from the East coast to the West Coast.
His role in exploration was recognised by the Royal Geographical Society of London, which presented Bombay a silver medal in 1876 for his assistance to Speke as they strived to find the source of the Nile River. However, he was never invited to England. Bombay died in Africa in 1885 at the age of 65.
- Burton, Richard Francis. Zanzibar: city, island, and coast, Volume 2, page 179. London: Tinsley Brothers, 18 Catherine St., Strand, 1872.
- Royal Geographic Society. Unlocking the Archives: Sidi Mubarak Bombay