1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Serpa Pinto, Alexandre Alberto de la Rocha

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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 24
Serpa Pinto, Alexandre Alberto de la Rocha

SERPA PINTO, ALEXANDRE ALBERTO DE LA ROCHA (1846-1900), Portuguese explorer in Africa, was born at the castle of Polchras, on the Douro, on the 10th of April 1846. Entering the army in 1864, he served in Mozambique, and in 1869 took part in an expedition against tribes in revolt on the lower Zambezi. In 1877 he and Captains Capello and Ivens of the Portuguese navy were sent on an expedition to south central Africa. The explorers left Benguella in November 1877 for the interior, but Serpa Pinto soon parted from his colleagues, who went north, while Serpa Pinto continued east. He crossed the Kwando in June 1878, and in August reached Lialui, the Barotse capital on the Zambezi, where he received help from the Rev. F. Coillard which enabled him to continue his journey down the river to the Victoria Falls, whence he turned south, arriving at Pretoria on the 12th of February 1879. He was the fourth explorer to traverse Africa from west to east, and was the first to lay down with approximate accuracy the route between Bihe and Lialui. Among other rewards the Royal Geographical Society of London awarded him (1881) the Founder's medal. The account of his travels appeared in English under the title How I crossed Africa (2 vols., London, 1881). In 1884 he attempted, with less success, the exploration of the regions between Mozambique and Lake Nyasa. Appointed governor of Mozambique in 1889, he organized an expedition with the object of securing for Portugal the Shire highlands and neighbouring regions, but the vigorous action of the British agents (John Buchanan and H. H. Johnston) frustrated this design (see Africa, § 5). Shortly afterwards Serpa Pinto returned to Lisbon and was promoted to the rank of colonel. He died on the 28th of December 1900.