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Charles John Andersson Posts

Why a blog about Charles John Andersson?

The legacy of Charles John Andersson (born 1827 in Värmland, Sweden – died 1867 in Portuguese Angola) is remarkable but neither well known nor popularised. The dark side of the story is that Charles John Andersson like most of the early European explorers in Africa during this time, paved the way for the ‘Scramble for Africa’ which was  the occupation, division, and colonisation of African territory by European powers during the period of the New Imperialism between 1881 and 1914. During his short lifetime he felt that he had accomplished very little but in fact his accomplishments were numerous and of great historical value:

In 2011 the Swedish King officially declared the sensational news that Charles Johan Andersson was the first European to report the existence of the waterfalls that came to be known as the ‘Victoria Falls’, three years before Dr Livingstone. This fact is proven by the map Charles John Andersson sent from Cape Town to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm. The map, intriguingly, was made in 1852. Dr. Livingstone visited the falls for the first time in 1855. 

Charles John Andersson wrote three classic books, “Lake Ngami”, “The River Okavango” and “Notes on the birds of Damara land and the adjacent countries of the South West Africa”.

He is credited with the naming of the Okavango River in Botswana, having misheard or misunderstood its correct pronunciation by the Ovambo people. The iconic Okavango Delta was listed as the 1000th World Heritage Site in 2014.

He is remembered in history as the first person to map the southwestern regions of Africa and for introducing the British and Swedish to this area of the continent, previously unknown.

He established a big trading station at Otjimbingwe, in todays Namibia which was, during the German occupation, the capitol of South West Africa.

Charles John Andersson was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Lund and posthumously honoured by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. A street in Windhoek is named after him and the also a fish, perhaps a perch, the Oreochromis andersonii.  

But who was he really? In this blog we present exclusive interviews from Sweden, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa with historians, museum directors, his descendants and others. 

The illustrations from Charles John Andersson´s and his father Llewellyn Lloyd’s books are also presented on this website. You will also find new photos and exclusive video interviews of places and people connected to Charles John Andersson. 

So please WELCOME to the blog about Charles John Andersson made by artist Ann Gollifer and journalist Mats Ögren Wanger.


Who discovered the Victoria Falls – Charles John Andersson?

Visit 2018-05-07

At the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences with Karl Grandin, Current Director at the Centre for Historic Science, and And Ann Gollifer.

The Centre for Historic Science at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences is the home of an enormous archive of objects, maps, drawings, and manuscripts. One of these objects is an original 19th century map of the interior of Southern Africa that has marked in place the geographical position of a massive waterfall called “ Mosi Oa Tunya”. This map was sent to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, in Stockholm from Cape Town by Charles John Andersson in 1852. The map was received by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1853 and duly locked away for safe keeping because within the 30 page letter from Andersson that came with the map was a request that the information therein remain unpublished. This was most likely because the map was one copied by Andersson from an original by Livingstone, marked with information that had yet to be verified by physical discovery. Livingstone did not set eyes upon Mosi Oa Tunya until 1855, despite the fact that he knew of its existence and location. He claimed the prize of being the first European to visit the falls and renamed them for his Queen. ‘Mosi Oa Tunya’ which in the Lozi language means ‘resounding smoke’, became the ‘Victoria Falls’. There is no record that Livingstone and Andersson ever met and to this day no one knows how Charles John Andersson came upon the original Livingstone map from which he made his copy.

Andersson never saw the falls himself, but he can be credited with being the first European explorer to send proof of their existence to Europe, two years prior to their physical substantiation by Livingstone to the Royal Geographical Society in London. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences seems not to have realised at the time the significance of the map and it was packed away and most likely, never looked at again. 

That is until 2004 when Christer Blomstrand, a Swedish journalist who had been living and working in Botswana, South Africa and Namibia since the 1960s, was commissioned by the Swedish Embassy in Pretoria to search for any ‘ancient’ maps of Africa, in Swedish collections. The Speaker of Parliament in Cape Town, hoped to gather together a collection of old maps for exhibition, that would illustrate how European maps had defined the image of Africa for centuries. Christer contacted Karl Grandin, then Deputy Director at the Centre for Historic Science at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. On his arrival Karl presented Christer with an old cardboard box bound with string and together they opened it. Inside there were two old maps, each made up of many sections of cardboard, pasted onto a thin linen that could be folded neatly in upon itself without obscuring any detail in their folding. This structure was typical of early 19th century maps, made for easy carriage, annotation and editing, throughout journeys that might last months if not years. A letter of thirty pages accompanied the two maps. Charles John Andersson’s signature graced both maps and the letter,and it seemed likely that all three items had been lying inside the box since 1853, quite forgotten. 

The first to be opened was a map of the South West of Africa that upon consultation with the Namibian historian, Gunther von Schumann in Windhoek, turned out to be one of the earliest maps of that area in existence. The second was Andersson’s handmade copy of Livinstone’s map bearing the position of the fabulous waterfall ‘Mosi Oa Tunya”.


At Llewellyn Lloyd´s tomb at Västra Tunhem in Sweden

Visit 2018-04-16

Llewellyn Lloyd died in 1876 and his tomb, erected by his grandson Sir Charles Llewellyn Andersson in 1905,is situated at Västra Tunhem in the Vänersborg Kommun. 

Sir Charles Llewellyn Andersson, Charles John Andersson’s son helped raise, serve in and later commanded the South African Light Horse Regiment and after the occupation of Johannesburg, during the Boer war of 1899-1902, returned to civilian life, assisting the military administration as a Justice of the Peace. He was a prominent figure in the mining and financial world of Johannesburg in the early 1900s, amassing a fortune from speculation and an exceptional accountancypractice. He built the Dolobran House in Johannesburg as his family seat in South Africa in 1906, a year after paying for the erection of his grandfather’s tomb in Västra Tunhem, Sweden. In 1919 he travelled to the border between South West Africa and Portuguese Angola, in search of his father’s grave and was shown the site by ‘Cocky’ Hahn, the grandson of Carl Hugo Hahn. Twenty years later in 1939 he commissioned a stone and cross to be raised on the gravesite that was then enclosed by an iron paling.

Due to the inaccessibility of the site on the boundary between what is now Namibia and Angola, and the war that ensued in Angola, any recorded visits to the gravesite of Charles John Andersson throughout the 20thcentury were singular. But in 2007 Namibian Historian, Gunter von Schumann and his wife Julia, Swedish Journalist Christer Blomstrand and Lena Johansson Blomstrand, Charge de Affaires of the Swedish Embassy in Namibia, and Pastor Shekutaamba Nambala, from Ondangwa on the Namibian side of the border visited the site, guided by Sarafina Tuningeni a resident of Ongonga, the nearest settlement to the site on the Angolan side of the border. Her knowledge of its whereabouts had been handed down to her from her parents.


In 1830 Lloyd rented the manors of Rånnum, where he lived with his young son Charles John Andersson.

Visit 2018-04-16
A conversation between visual artist Ann Gollifer and Peter Johansson, the head of the Vänersborgs museum. 

When the British nobleman Llewellyn Lloyd moved to the Vänersborg area in Sweden in 1830, it was salmon-fishing in the Göta Älv that attracted Lloyd. He rented the manors of Rånnum and lived there for some years with his young son, Charles John Andersson. Lloyd became a famous explorer in Sweden and his son Andersson became an even more famous explorer in southern Africa. Both published several books describing the exotic worlds they encountered on their travels. Lloyd recorded his impressions of Swedish landscapes and people and C.J. Andersson those of southern Africa. 


Charles Darwin connections to Charles John Andersson and his father Llewellyn Lloyd

Few people know that Charles Darwin corresponded with the bear-hunter Llewellyn Lloyd, an Englishman who settled in Vänersborg in the 1820´s. In Darwin´s books, there are numerous references to Lloyd´s zoological studies in western Sweden.

In 1859 the book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life was published in London. Never has a scientific publication revolutionized the scientific establishment in that degree.

The author, Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England, in the year of 1809. At early age, he showed a keen interest in natural science, mainly geology and zoology. In 1831 he was given the opportunity to accompany the ship The Beagle on a five-year circumnavigation. The scientific research that the young Darwin made during that trip would much later prove to be of fundamental importance for his scientific theory.

Inspired by economist Thomas Malthus´ (1766-1834) ideas about population-growth, Darwin developed in the 1840´s a theory of species destruction or alteration. Destruction or alteration would, according to these thoughts, depend on the individual´s ability to survive in different environments with respect to individuals´ different properties – the survival of the best adapted. The individual characteristics arose by chance while the environment decided which properties or individuals would survive and were able to have offsprings. After a long series of generations, new species or varieties could develop. The theory was launched in 1858 in the Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society, and was developed in the mentioned book the following year.

Darwin´s theories on the origin of species caused a fierce debate, especially between science and the church. When Darwin published The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex in 1871, his theory of natural selection was already on its way to conquer the world of research.

As an interesting fact, Darwin corresponded with both Charles John Andersson as his countryman Llewellyn Lloyd Vanersborg. In particular, he became interested in Lloyd´s studies of the Swedish ornothology. In The Descent of Man Darwin has numerous references to Lloyds works. Charles Darwin died in Downe, England, in 1882.

Reference source
Vänersborgs museum


Steve Dyer on Hugo Hahn

Steve Dyer is a South African music composer, performer, conceptualiser, director and producer. He is also the great, great, grandson of Emma and Carl Hugo Hahn.

Steve began composing music at 10 and he taught himself to play the guitar at 11. He grew up in Pietermaritzburg, listening to his parents’ collection of Classical, European LPs and to the sounds of the street, maskandi musicians and kwela on the radio. He gained first class honours from Natal University for a Bachelor’s degree in musical performance, majoring in saxophone and flute. He left South Africa for Botswana refusing conscription and became involved in the ‘Symposium for Cultural Resistance’ hosted in Gaborone in 1982. He became part of an exile music scene that included Hugh Masekela and Jonas Gwangwa. Steve moved to Zimbabwe in 1988 and formed the group Southern Freeway. In 1990 he joined the Amandla Cultural Ensemble of the ANC on a 7 week tour to Japan. On this tour he met his future wife Refiloe Mabaso, a performer, dancer and singer with Amandla. Throughout his career Steve has consistently produced music with the other talents surrounding him as well as his own solo works. He played a major role in the Mahube project of 1997, the first substantive Southern African music collaboration. He produced the seminal work ‘Tuku music’ as well as 4 other albums with Oliver Mtukudzi. Steve’s life and work is epitomised by the new world musical ‘Colour me human’ that he conceptualised, directed and performed and which was nominated for 5 Naledi theatre awards: Best ensemble, music score, music director, choreographer, animation/AV. His music is his truth, and through this truth he continually works towards a sentient existence that is inclusive, creative and all encompassing.


Gunter Von Schumann’s assessment of Charles John Andersson’s historical legacy


Visit 2018-01-19
Interview with Gunter Von Schumann from Windhoek about Charles John Andersson

We travelled to Windhoek to interview Gunter Von Schumann, librarian at the Namibia Scientific Society. In this interview Gunter talks about Andersson’s legacy with reference to the controversial map marking the Victoria Falls made in 1852 and also his collection and cataloguing of the birds of southwestern Africa.


Otjimbingwe – once the capital of South West Africa

Visit 2018-01-23
In April 1860 Charles John Andersson bought the Walvis Bay Mining Company’s interests at Otjimbingwe and set up a large trading centre. In the same year Andersson also married Sarah Jane Aitchison, his Cape Town landlady’s daughter  and together they settled by the river in Otjimbingwe.