Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Francis Burton in Africa

Topics: Imperialism, British Empire, Atlantic slave trade Pages: 4 (1274 words) Published: September 23, 2013


Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Francis Burton are two monumental figures in the history of African travel writing. Burton Travelled to Africa in in the mid 1800’s seeking the source of the Nile River, and Roosevelt travelled on a safari in search of big game for the US National Museum at Washington. Both published accounts of their journeys, sharing significant information about the natives, the scenery, and many other factors of their visit. The two authors focused considerably on the elements of the British Empire that was quickly expanding in Africa, the images of tourism on the continent, as well as the conservation of where they travelled. Upon reading Theodore Roosevelt’s African Game Trails, we are provided with a unique insight to the land and the people of Africa, and how they affect his views on empire, tourism, and conservation. Roosevelt quickly makes it apparent that he believes the African people are barbarous savages. Their looks, their cultural ideals, and customs are shed in a most negative and condescending light. He even describes a group’s cultural tradition as a “strange, crippling and pointless punishment”1 that he will never understand. Roosevelt also is quick to assert his belief that the growing British Empire in Africa is a highly beneficial implementation, and his negative view of the people and culture help to display this. He notes in the beginning of his writing, “In the continents new to people of European stock, we have seen the spectacle of a high civilization all at once thrust into and superimposed upon a wilderness of savage men and savage beasts.”2 He continues to explore his idea that it is right for the Englishmen and other ‘white’ men to work heartily together and do scrupulous justice on the natives, since the whites are masterful leaders. He even notes that the newly constructed railroad served as “the embodiment of the eager, masterful, materialistic civilization of today.”3 Essentially, Roosevelt is eager in...
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