Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A dearth of African names on Mt. Kilimanjaro

Africa's highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro, has a lot of non-African names. In fact someone unfamiliar with the mountain who glances at the glacier names on the mountain's map can be mistaken he is observing a map of a European summit.

Rebmann Glacier is named after German explorer and missionary, Johann Rebmann who first reported seeing the snow-capped mountain rise above the African plains in 1848. Hans Meyer has a memorial on Mt. Kilimanjaro in recognition of being the first European to reach Mt. Kilimanjaro's summit. Furtwängler Glacier is named after Walter Furtwängler who, with Siegfried König, were the fourth to reach the summit in 1912. There are several other glaciers with non-African names: Credner, Drygalski, Ratzel, Decken, Heim, and Balleto.

A section of Furtwängler Glacier as seen from Crater Camp.
Even when they ran out of names, some of glaciers are combinations of English words: there is a Northern Icefield and a Southern Icefield.


When Hans Meyer reached the summit in 1889 he was accompanied by nine porters, a guide, a cook, and two local headmen. None of them is known by name, but it is believed that one of them was Yohani Kinyala Lauwo who died in Marangu on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro in 1996 at an estimated age of 125 years.


Apparently there is a place on Mt. Kilimanjaro named after him: Yohana's Notch. But I have difficulty finding its location on any map. Which could be a good reason to rename one of those "polar" icefields (Northern Icefield, and Southern Icefield) after him.

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