S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Bertrand, Mr Alfred (geography)

Born: 1856, Place not known.
Died: 18 January 1924, Place not known.

Alfred Bertrand was a Swiss explorer and a member or corresponding member of nine geographical societies in Switzerland, France, Italy and Portugal. At some time he was the president of the Societe Geographique de Geneve. Accounts of his travels, in French, appeared in the publications of this society, dealing with the Straits of Magellan (1888) and China (1893). During 1895-1896 he undertook a journey to the Barotse nation, on the upper Zambesi River in present day Zambia, returning via the Victoria Falls, Matabeleland, the Transvaal, Natal, and the Cape Colony. He published papers on these explorations in geographical journals in Geneve and Paris in 1896-1897, and a book (in French) in 1898. The latter was translated into English as The kingdom of the Barotsi, upper Zambezia: a voyage of exploration in Africa... (with illustrations and two maps), and was published in Cape Town in 1899. A brief account of his travels in Barotseland titled "From the Machili to the Lialui" also appeared in an article by Major A. Gibbons, as part of the latter's own explorations in Zambia, in the Geographical Journal (1897). He returned to Barotseland in 1898-1899, then travelling through present Zimbabwe to Beira. After a world tour with his wife he undertook a third journey to the Zambesi, including a visit to the Victoria Falls, during 1908-1909.

Bertrand also wrote an account in 1899 of the work and travels in southern Africa of the French missionary Francois Coillard. Another paper by him, "Methods of survey employed by the Chilean Boundary Commission in the Cordillera of the Andes", was published in the Geographical Journal in 1900.

List of sources:

Berner, O.T. Schweizer im Einstigen Rhodesien: Biographische Notizen. Basel: Basler Afrika Bibliographien, 1985.

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

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

Royal Society of London. Catalogue of scientific papers. London: Royal Society, 1867-1925.

South African bibliography to the year 1925. London: Mansell, 1979.

Compiled by: C. Plug