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In 1795 Mungo Park, a twenty-four year old surgeon, set out from the Gambia to trace the course of the Niger, a river of which Europeans had no first-hand knowledge. Travels in the interior districts of Africa is his Journal of that extraordinary journey. He travelled on the sufferance of African rulers and soon came to depend for his survival on the charity of African villagers. Before he reached the Niger, he endured months of captivity in the camp of a Moorish chief. Yet throughout his travels, Park maintained a remarkable empathy for African societies and beliefs. He recorded what he saw as accurately as he could, and without presuming European superiority.

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