The Opening of the Nile Basin edited by E. Toniolo and R. Hill (C. Hurst 16)
It is refreshing to be reminded that not all the exploration of the African interior was spon_sored by the Royal Geographical Society and American newspapers. Livingstone and, to a lesser degree, Krapf have redressed the balance through their books.
This book, a collection of Catholic missionary letters, reports, articles and book extracts, all difficult of access, is a further reminder of the role of .he missionary as explorer and secorder of African geography and ethnography.
It tells us much about the groundwork which was to establish the strong Christian tradition in the Southern Sudan.
The editors have added useful notes and introductiohs to the various texts, which are to the point and unobtrusive, as such editing should be. There is an adequate index: but the book is marred by the lack of a good map. The three which there are are too small — especially the reprints of the 19th century maps — to have any value.
The selections themselves are uneven in quality: some are very illuminating, for example those of Fr Kaufmann and Fr Pedemonte on the exploration of the White Nile.
Most disappointing of all is the extract from the notebooks of Fr Sorur, the first Dinka priest who, by the very fact of his brilliant career, wrote rather distantly of the society which he knew as a youth.
But all in all, this book is a most useful contribution to the source material on Africa, and a tribute to a significant missionary endeavour.
J. R. Newman