Scottish explorer William Balfour Baikie lived a short life.
But in it, he packed so much and he became a hero among the Nigerian people more than 150 years ago for his work opening Africa to the Europeans.
A surgeon, naturalist, linguist, writer, explorer and government consul, Baikie was designated as the King of Lokoja by the ruler of the Sokoto Caliphate.
Born 4,000 miles away in Orkney, Baikie mapped and chartered large sections of the Niger River system, as well as the overland routes from Lagos and Lokoja, to the major trading centres of Kano, Timbuctu and Sokoto.
As a naturalist, major beneficiaries of his work included Kew Gardens and the British Museum for the rare and undiscovered plant and animal species.
Yet today, his name is still literally unknown. Author Wendell McConnaha aims to put that right with her new book The King of Lokoja – William Balfour Baikie the Forgotten Man of Africa.
Baikie’s name is so well known in Nigeria, that people in the region still greet white visitors to the region as “Baikie’’.
After studying at Edinburgh University, he was assigned to the Royal Hospital Haslar, where he worked with the noted explorers Sir John Richardson and Sir Edward Perry.
His reputation as a naturalist and the sphere of influence provided by Richardson and Perry, allowed him to enter the elite British scientific community, where he also worked alongside the most famous naturalist of all time, Charles Darwin.
The book takes you through his life, from the early days in Orkney, to medical school and his naval career, all key influences on his life.
The reader can discover the quirks of fate and the aspects of personality which kept he from the recognition he so richly deserved.
With interesting images and maps, this book, which is published by Whittles, is a must for anyone interested in West African history.
Publication date: 4th March 2022
UK Price: £16.99
Format: 240 x 170mm, Paperback
The King of Lokoja – William Balfour Baikie the Forgotten Man of Africa
By Wendell McConnaha
Published by Whittles Publishing
For more information and to purchase a copy of the book, please visit: www.whittlespublishing.com.
Rebecca Hay is an experienced travel writer and member of The British Guild of Travel Writers. Follow her adventures with her family on Twitter and Instagram @emojiadventurer and on Facebook via EmojiAdventurers2.