Foa, Edouard – French Jewish Explorer of Africa In The Late 1800’s

Edouard Foa

In 1880 Edouard Foa, at 19 years old, left his homeland of France for the wilds of Algeria, where he spent three years mapping the unknown reaches of its rivers. When he came home in 1885, having also explored the French Congo, he was famous, and was decorated with the highest award of the Paris Geographical Society, La Grande Medaille d’Or.

Then he was invited by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and of Colonies to make a crossing of Africa from the Indian to the Atlantic ocean. His main exploration started in Gazaland, a little known part of Mozambique. His caravan had 380 members. But many times he would leave the caravan and make detours on his own, often at risk to his life. He started crossing Africa at the mouth of Zambezi, in 1894. For several months the expedition made its way up the Zambezi. There were long halts when the white men went off shooting big game. Foa ranks as one of the greatest hunters that have ever lived in Africa, something nowadays that we might not feel positive about. With a single gun he managed in two years to kill 30 elephants. Altogether his expedition secured for the Paris Zoological Museum several hundred specimens of African animals, including some that were very rare.
Edouard found that the great Lake Nyassa was wrongly marked on the charts, and he found the source of the Zambezi, a place which geographers had argued about for centuries.
In the effort to reach the great tributary of the Congo, the Kasai, he encountered great difficulties, the bearers refusing to undergo further hardships in the mountain. But he decided to cross the heart of the warlike and untamed Wanyambezi country, a home of cannibals. For 20 days he and his men trekked through the giant Congo Forest. Foa was the first white man to see these particular regions.
Finally, after a five and half months journey by canoe, the expedition reached Stanley Pool, and went on to Gabon, where in Dec. 12, 1897, the crossing of Africa was complete.
Foa wrote a book on hunting, full of excellent yarns, and some other books, His health, however, was broken, so he returned to Africa to seek the sun, but he died at the early age of 39 on June 29, 1901. (source "Rhodesian Jewry and Its Story – by Eric Rosenthal – you can find this document on the internet)


Posted on August 19, 2011, in Explorers and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I read his most famous book on African game hunting and he’s always been my favorite author of Africana (I have a fair collection). One of my reasons being his great respect for the abilities for the native trackers under his employ. I never knew he was Jewish and it’s cool to now know a new aspect of who he was, not just as a hunter but as a person.

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