Making Salt and gathering food supplies for a boat trip up Lake Albert N’Yanza

After discovering Lake Albert N’Yanza, the Bakers camped near Vacovia, a village next to the lake, in order to prepare boats and supplies for their trip down the lake to the White Nile. As usual, Baker’s descriptions are graphic, as are his detailing of food and produce.

His descriptions of salt production are similar to those already posted, helping to verify the critical importance of salt as both an enterprise as well as part of an extensive trade network.

Baker – The Albert N’Yanza, Great Basin of the Nile

Vacovia was a miserable place, and the soil was so impregnated with salt, that no cultivation was possible. Salt was the natural product of the country; and the population were employed in its manufacture, which constituted the business of the lake shores–being exchanged for supplies from the interior.

… I went to examine the pits (near the lake, in which salt is made): These were about six feet deep, from which was dug a black sandy mud that was placed in large earthenware jars; these were supported upon frames, and mixed with water, which filtering rapidly through small holes in the bottom, was received in jars beneath: this water was again used with fresh mud until it became a strong brine, when it was boiled and evaporated.

Making salt in early Burundi – similar throughout Africa

The salt was white, but very bitter. I imagine that it has been formed by the decay of aquatic plants that have been washed ashore by the waves; decomposing, they have formed a mud deposit, and much potash is combined with the salt.

At Eppigoya the best salt was produced, and we purchased a good supply–also some dried fish; thus we had already purchased large supplies.

Our livestock bothered us dreadfully; being without baskets, the fowls were determined upon suicide, and many jumped deliberately overboard, while others that were tied by the legs were drowned in the bottom of the leaky canoe.

Sir Baker in Lake Albert N'yanza.  Source:


About dianabuja

With a group of BaTwa (pygmy) women potters, with whom we've worked to enhance production and sales of their wonderful pots - fantastic for cooking and serving. To see the 2 blogs on this work enter 'batwa pots' into the search engine located just above this picture. Blog entries throughout this site are about Africa, as well as about the Middle East and life in general - reflecting over 35 years of work and research in Africa and the Middle East – Come and join me!
This entry was posted in European explorers, Explorers & exploration, Health, Samuel W. Baker and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Making Salt and gathering food supplies for a boat trip up Lake Albert N’Yanza

  1. Pingback: Wild Rice, Salt, and Navigation on Lake Tanganyika: 19th Century and Now | DIANABUJA'S BLOG: Africa, The Middle East, Agriculture, History and Culture

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