The Speke Monument is one of Uganda’s most elegant monuments. It is located in the Ugandan village of Bukaya and it lies on the West Bank of the river Nile. The Speke Monument commemorates John Hanning Speke, an early white explorer who discovered River Nile. In the year 1856, Sir John Hanning Speke and his partner, Sir Richard Burton embarked on a journey to East Africa in quest of the Great Lakes, that were claimed to lie in the middle of the African continent. This monument marks the spot from where Speke stood to behold the “Mighty Nile”. His visit to this magnificent spot was followed by a celebrated telegram to London. “The Nile is settled!” was its triumphant content. With this telegram John Hanning Speke, a British soldier, claimed his slot in the books of history as the first European to reach the Source of the Nile.
The search for the Source of the Nile had been a Victorian Obsession as it was of utmost strategic importance for the British Empire to control the source of water for the Egyptian protectorate. Egypt being extremely dry and arid, relies almost 100% on the waters of the Nile not only as a water source, but also for its rich nutrients feeding Egypt’s agricultural lands during the annual floods. Without the Nile, Egypt would very quickly be brought to its knees. It was therefore paramount to secure the headwaters of this mighty river.
Expedition after expedition was sent out, many a man joined with high hopes of fame and fortune as success was often rewarded with lands, money and knighthood. Most expeditions however ended in abysmal failure as the terrain proved treacherous not to mention the millions of malaria-infested mosquitoes swarming in the swamps of Southern Sudan.
Eventually Speke and Burton set out to approach the Source of the Nile from the southern route. It was this journey that brought them to the Southern shores of Lake Nalubaale, which Speke conveniently renamed Lake Victoria after Queen Victoria of England.
By the way did you know that Victoria Forest Resort is named after Lake Victoria?