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Paul Graetz website

Across Africa by automobile

Bwana Tucke-Tucke 100 years Africa-Crossing

This is a short abstract of the first transit of southern Africa undertaken by the German pioneer Paul Graetz by automobile from 1907 - 1909.

Map of the first crossing of Africa by automobile

In 1907 first lieutenant Paul Graetz terminated his service for the royal army. During his term of service his duty was to build a road for motor vehicles from the coast to the border where he was stationed.

During this time all heavy materials were transported by the black locals on their heads which not only meant a loss of time but also enormous strains during constant heat, torrential rains, some ice cold nights and the ever luring danger of contracting malaria or blackwater.

During his military service in East Africa the young lieutenant became convinced that the transport problems in Africa could only be solved through the use of motorised vehicles.

Hence he started working on the idea to cross the continent from east to west by car. A fantastic idea, but it bore risks, obstacles and dangers.

There were no road maps and the distances given were measured in ‚hours on horseback“. Part of the country was invested by the deadly Tsetse fly and by mosquitos. There were no gas stations but plenty of waterless stretches. All previous attempts had failed and both men and beast had fallen victim to the Tsetse fly.

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