Heinrich Barth and the Africans
Heinrich Barth in the camp of Sheikh al-Baqqai near Timbuktu
Heinrich Barth was willing to accept other cultures and ways of life, even though from his European vantagepoint he might also suggest improvements. He was no dispassionate observer and expressed his horror at the cruelty inflicted by man upon man, in slave raids, for instance. Above all, however, he viewed European influence in Africa with considerable scepticism and even dreamed of leading a pan-African army to drive the European colonial powers out of Africa. No other African scholar of the time placed himself so unreservedly on the side of the Africans. In the course of his five-year-long journey he won many friends, without whose spiritual and material support his undertaking would not have been possible. Still today African scholars rate Barth and his achievements very highly.
"Wer unter Völkerschaften des verschiedensten Charakters und der verschiedensten Glaubensformen gelebt hat und bei allen in ihrer Weise treffliche Menschen gefunden hat, der wird sich vor der Einseitigkeit der Anschauung menschlicher Lebensverhältnisse bewahren." (Barth 1859)