S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Green, Mr Frederick Joseph (exploration)

Born: 1830, Canada.
Died: 4 May 1876, Heigamhab, near Swakopmund, Namibia.

Frederick Joseph Green, hunter, explorer and adventurer in Botswana and Namibia, came to South Africa in the eighteen-forties with his father, Robert Green, and his brothers Charles Alexander and Henry. In 1850 he undertook his first trip into Botswana, accompanied by his brother Charles, travelling to Kolobeng (west of Gaberone) and northwards to Shosong (just west of Mahalapye). In the following year he travelled to Lake Ngami with two companions and on the way met David Livingstone*. He then penetrated west and south-west of the lake as far as Ghanzi before returning to Winburg, Orange River Sovereignty (now the Free State) in March 1852. Later that year he set off again with Charles to Shosong and further north, then to Lake Ngami where he remained for some time. The next year he explored and hunted north of the Botletle River and again visited Lake Ngami. Early in 1854 he proceeded to Hereroland in present Namibia and travelled westwards to Walfish Bay - only the second European, after C.J. Andersson*, to take this route. He met Andersson in Cape Town in June 1854 and formed a partnership with him. Returning to Walfish Bay by sea in September he fell ill and in March 1855 met J.A. Wahlberg* there. They travelled together to Ngamiland and up the Thaoge River, a stream on the western edge of the Okavango delta. They reached Andara in October 1855, the first Europeans to do so from the south.

After Wahlberg's death Green returned to Cape Town in December 1856. He wrote a lengthy paper, "Narrative of an expedition to the north-west of Lake Ngami, extending to the capital of Debebe's territory, via Souska river, hitherto an unexplored portion of Africa", which he published with the help of Henry Hall* in the Eastern Province Monthly Magazine (1857, pp. 252-257, 316-323, 385-392, 533-543, 595-601, and 661-669). Green soon returned to Walfish Bay with Andersson and in April 1857 set out for Ovamboland and the Kunene River. However, a local chief refused his party, which included the missionaries C.H. Hahn* and J. Rath, passage to the Kunene. The three wrote an "Account of an expedition from Damaraland to the Ovampo in search of the River Cunene", which was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society (1858, Vol. 2, pp. 350-354). Furthermore, in September 1857 Andersson described Green's travels in Damaraland in a letter to Henry Hall, who had it published in the Cape Monthly Magazine (1858, Vol. 3, pp. 197-209) under the title "Discovery of a fresh-water lake and a struggle for life on the plains of Ondonga". Green later also wrote "Narative of a journey to Ovampoland", describing his and Andersson's explorations, for the Cape Monthly Magazine (1860, Vol. 7, pp. 302-307, 353-363).

Andersson sent him out to buy ivory in 1858 and with his brother Charles he travelled to Lake Ngami and on to western Matabeleland. On his return he met James Chapman's* party at the Nossob River in July 1859. He visited Ovamboland and the Okavango River again in 1861. During the Nama-Herero War in 1863 he and Andersson took part in several campaigns on the side of the Hereros. In the winter of 1865 he went on a hunting trip to the Kunene River. He had married miss Stewardson the previous year and she became the first European woman to visit Ovamboland. Their daughter Mary was born at Ondonga on 4 November 1865. He returned to Otjimbingwe in 1867, but his movements during the next six years are not known.

After a visit to Cape Town Green returned to Walfish Bay in April 1876. He died of an abscess of the liver the next month. Like Andersson he was a leading pioneer of Namibia and Botswana, particuarly of the upper Thaoge River, the central Kunene, and the upper Chobe. A strong and brave man, he is reputed to have shot at least 750 elephants - more than any other hunter.

List of sources:
Dictionary of South African biography, Vol. 2, 1972.

Hall, A.L. A bibliography of South African geology to the end of 1920. Pretoria: Geological Survey, Memoir No. 18, 1922.

Mendelssohn, S. South African bibliography. London, 1910.

Rochlin, S.A. Henry Hall: Pioneer South African cartographer and litterateur. Africana Notes and News, 1961, Vol. 14, pp. 251-265.

Tabler, E.C. The life of Frederick Green. Africana Notes and News, 1953-1955, Vol. 11, pp. 35-42.

Tabler, E.C. Pioneers of South West Africa and Ngamiland, 1738-1880. Cape Town: Balkema, 1973.

Wilmsen, E.N. The Okavango River: Charles John Andersson's search for a water route to the Atlantic. Namibia Scientific Society Journal, 2005, Vol. 53, pp. 79-102.

Compiled by: C. Plug