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Sidi Mubarak Bombay

Sidi Mubarak Bombay (Source: Unlocking the Archives)

The waYao are an ethnic African tribe based across the countries of Mozambique and Tanzania. In the early 19th century, a young waYao boy - the subject of this short tale - was captured by Arab slavers and later sold in a slave market. His new "owners" transported him by boat all the way to Gujarat in India where he was given the name of Mubarak and forced to work. The young slave lived in India for a number of years and learned to speak Hindi. Eventually, when his owner died, he was given his freedom and found his way back to his homeland.

In Africa, Mubarak - now calling himself Sidi Mubarak Bombay - met the British explorer John Hanning Speke and established a rapport as both of them could speak Hindi. Speke asked Mubarak to accompany him on his search for the source of the river Nile (along with famed explorer, Richard Burton). The expedition discovered two of the Great Lakes of Africa - Lake Tanganyika and Lake Victoria - with the latter identified as the source of the Nile. He was awarded a silver medal in 1876 by the Royal Geographic Society of London and later also offered a pension in recognition of his efforts.

Bombay later also served as a protector and guide for other explorers including David Livingstone and Henry Morton Stanley. He was also the caravan leader during Stanley's famed expedition to locate Livingstone.

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