Go Back Report # 1325




Dear Editor,

     Thought you might be interested in this passage I came across in Mary Kingsley's Travels in West Africa (London, Virago Press, 1982, from a turn-of-the century original edition), p. 254. Ms. Kingsley was on an 18951 exploration at Lake Ncovi between the Ogowe and Rembwe rivers, then in the region of the Niger Protectorate and Gabon, when she went out at night alone to bathe and canoe on the lake waters. Then:          

     “...I saw a strange thing happen. Down through the forest on the lake bank opposite came a violet ball the size of a small orange. When it reached the sand beach, it hovered along it to and fro close to the ground. In a few minutes another ball of similarly colored light came towards it from behind one of the islets, and the two waver to and fro over the beach, sometimes circling round each other. I made off toward them in the canoe, thinking — as I still do — they were some brand new kind of luminous insect. When I got onto their beach, one of them went off into the bushes and the other away over the water. I followed in the canoe, for the water here is very deep and, when I almost thought I had got it, it went down into the water and I could see it glowing as it sunk until it vanished in the depths. . ."


     Later, on asking the natives in this very remote region, they explain it as an "Aku" — a devil. There is no further explanation or discussion of the incident.

     I'd tend to dismiss it as an insect too, except for its underwater dive. Ms. Kingsley is an eminently practical, matter-of-fact, not in the least fanciful observer and a highly intelligent and perceptive travel writer. This incident recalls other "tiny UFO" oddities of the sort reported by Fort and others.  
     One more point: the use of the word "aku" in West Africa — there's the same correspondence noted in other vocabulary to similar terminology in Polynesia (and elsewhere???). One might speculate about possible widespread dissemination of the same or similar names for spirits in prehistory. But that's really getting into deep waters!

Robert Coltman

S. Chelmsford, MA

Reference for the above text is: MUFON UFO Journal, #218, June 1986, p. 16.



UFOCAT URN – NONE   MUFON UFO Journal, #218, June 1986, p. 16


Africa – Gabon

Ogowé River      Latitude 00-49-00 S, Longitude 009-00-00 E (D-M-S)

Lake Ncovi         Unable to find coordinates. See text below Note 1.

Rembwe River    Unable to find coordinates.

Reference: http://geonames.nga.mil/ggmaviewer/


Note 1: Regarding the date, from my editor –H J-

     If you look at Chapter VII in Travels in West Africa [URL below], under the heading Tuesday, July 23rd, Kingsley writes about being left in peace at about 11:30 p.m. Then, not being able to sleep, she gets up at 12:40 [which would be July 24]. She goes out in her canoe, has the sighting, and is back in her hut by 3:30. Then her text goes on to Wednesday, July 24th, starting at 5:30.


     In Chapter VII of Travels in West Africa, author Mary H. Kingsley states, “Geographical research in this region is fraught with difficulty, I find, owing to different tribes calling one and the same place by different names…” At the end of Ch. VII one of her notes says:


19 Since my return I think the French gentleman may have been M. F. Tenaille d’Estais, who is down on the latest map (French) as having visited a lake in this region in 1882, which is set down as Lac Ebouko. He seems to have come from and returned to Lake Ayzingo — on map Lac Azingo — but on the other hand “Ebouko” was not known on the lake, Ajumba and Fans [two West African tribes] alike calling it Ncovi.

Reference: http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/k/kingsley/mary/west/chapter7.html


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