Eduard Carl Oscar Theodor Schnitzer (28 March 1840–23 October 1892)
Emin Pasha – born Isaak Eduard Schnitzer and baptised Eduard Carl Oscar Theodor Schnitzer – led a strange and colourful life – some of it murky – which finally led him to the governorship of Equatoria, the Sudanese province of the upper Nile.
Born in Opole, Silesia into a middle-class Jewish family. His father died when he was aged five and two years later his mother married a gentile. She and her children were baptised Lutherans. Eduard attended Breslau, Königsberg and Berlin universities, qualifying as a doctor in 1864. After some scandal of an uncertain nature, he was disqualified from practice, and left Germany for Ottoman Montenegro where he set himself up again as a physician. He was a natural linguist and soon became fluent in Turkish, Albanian and Greek. He became the quarantine officer of the port, before joining the staff of Ismail Hakki Pasha, governor of northern Albania, in 1870.
Thereafter, he seems to have travelled widely throughout the Ottoman dominions, eventually appearing in Cairo and then Khartoum, where he arrived in September 1875. He adopted the name Mehemet Emin (Muhammad al-Amin), started a medical practice, and turned his hand to zoology and botany. Many of his specimens ended up in several European natural history museums. At this time Charles George Gordon was governor of Equatoria, reporting to the khedive in Cairo, and he appointed Emin to the post of chief medical officer in May 1876. In addition to his medical responsibilities, Gordon despatched him on several diplomatic missions to the south (in what is now Uganda) where he was successful. After Gordon left the Egyptian service in 1880, the khedive made Emin his successor as governor, after which he was universally known as Emin Pasha.
Egypt’s control over Equatoria was, at best, nominal and Emin’s real power extended for only a few miles’ radius around the few outposts where the few thousand Egyptian troops were garrisoned. The khedival government was slack in responding to any of his requests for funds to develop the province, and within months the Mahdist rebellion had cut Equatoria off from the north, while the central African jungles hemmed him in on the other cardinal points. In 1885 General Gordon, who had returned to the Sudan, was killed in Khartoum and Emin and most of his forces withdrew further south, to Wadelai on the upper Nile near Lake Albert. He was still able to communicate with the outside world via Zanzibar and his reports caused an outcry in Europe for his rescue.
This was the height of the European land-grab for Africa, and all eyes were on events taking place in the continent. In 1886, newspaper funding was raised sufficient to equip the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition, led by Henry Morton Stanley. The famous explorer decided not to take the most obvious route from the east coast, instead landing at the mouth of the unexplored Congo River and then cutting off through the Ituri jungle. The trek cost the lives of two-thirds of the expedition.
Stanley eventually met Emin in April 1888, and after a year spent in argument and indecision, Emin was persuaded to leave for the coast. Marching through new country to explore Lakes Edward and George, Stanley and his followers made their way by the south of the Victoria Nyanza, reaching Bagamoyo in 1890. At a reception held in his honour, Emin fell from a second-storey window after mistaking it for an opening onto a balcony. Stanley left him recuperating in hospital, denied his triumphant return to London. On his recovery. Emin Pasha undertook explorations for the German East Africa Company and on one he was killed by slave traders at Kinene in 1892.
© 2010–2016 Reckless Books, England
Eduard Schnitzer a.k.a. Emin Pasha, doctor, naturalist and linguist, roused the world's sympathy when he was cut off by the Mahdist War. Eventually, he was rescued by the explorer Henry Morton Stanley. Their meeting in the middle of Africa in 1888 inspired newspaper artists to a second 'Dr. Livingstone I presume' moment.