My African Journey
After observing French Army maneuvers in September, Churchill traveled through Italy to Vienna, Syracuse and Malta, where he was “installed in much state” in the palace of the Grand Masters of the Knights of Malta. Then the cruiser Venus was placed at his disposal for travel to Cyprus and Africa.
From Nairobi, he traveled north, partly on the Nile, visiting Omdurman where he’d fought 12 years before, and Khartoum, where his manservant Scrivings died suddenly of food poisoning. This startled WSC, who realized “. . . how easily it might have been me.”
Though thousands of miles from home, Churchill never left the limelight. Punch published an article, “Winston Day By Day,” and colleagues followed his journey in the press. He kept in touch with his mother and brother Jack, and inundated the Colonial Office with correspondence, much to the chagrin of permanent undersecretary Sir Francis Hopwood, who warned Lord Elgin: “Churchill is most troublesome… and will I fear give trouble as his father did.” (London would have been more upset if it had known that WSC, as he wrote confidentially to Jennie, was involved in a plan to extend the jurisdiction of the Empire without consulting Elgin.) He also was permitted to write directly to King Edward VII about his experiences.
On his return to London, Churchill was guest of honor at an 18 January 1908 dinner of the National Liberal Club, which he harangued skillfully and at great length. His topic was ostensibly his African journey, and the prospects for Britain’s vast new dominions in East Africa. But in reality his speech signified his return to the domestic political wars, into which he plunged with happy vigor.