Mary Kingsley was an odd bird. She had more courage in one bone of her body than most armies did amongst their ranks. She arrived in Sierra Leone in 1893 in full Victorian English fashion. She wore petticoats, sun hats and refused to change into more practical clothes, preferring to cover up completely in the African heat. After all, trousers would be improper.
Meanwhile, she fended off crocodiles during solo canoe trips down rivers, pushed into territories that most other male explorers, and not to mention African men were afraid to wander, and did so with a disarmingly practical sense of personal accountability.
She writes about staying with the Fan Tribe, one of the most feared tribes in all of West Africa. They were known for acts of random murder and cannibalism. Because of this, explorers and rival tribes alike all kept their distance from them. While Mary kept a journal of her travels, which has been compiled into a book that anyone can read, it’s incredible how few know of her travels and exploits around 1800s Africa.