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The Richard Lander Medal


In 2004 the British Expedition to Nigeria celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Richard Lander, commissioned the Royal Mint to produce a unique coin to mark the anniversary and to present to the Emir of Borgu at the commencement of their river journey. Expedition member Simon Hendra , played a significant part in the design and procurement of the new coin (shown right).

The idea of presenting a new medal to the Emir of Borgu to mark both, the Anniversary and start of our venture, was linked to Richard Lander's gift of a Silver medal to the King of Boosa, in exchange for two canoes in which to continue their historic journey.
As the years passed, that original medal which had been provided by the African Association (now the Royal Geographical Society) for the Lander brothers to use at their discretion and for probably such a purpose has been treasured within the Kingdom of Borgu. The medal was a George 111 North American Indian Peace Medal and originally used in diplomatic relations with Indian Nations.
The silver medal was subsequently converted into a ring and is only ever worn by the Emir of Borgu at his Coronation Ceremony. To this day within the walls of the Royal Palace in New Bussa there is a special place which contains portraits and some photographs of the various Emir's over the last two hundred years wearing this precious Lander ring. This wonderful preservation of that unique part of Nigeria's history is a testament to the people of Borgu and of course is part of our own history of exploration.

Fig.1: Commissioned medal; struck by Royal Mint in 2004


Fig 2: Emir of Borgu wearing original Lander ring (1950's)



Fig 2 is a photograph taken from the book The Indomitable Servant by Mercedes Mackay and was believed taken during the 1950's. When I first took a copy of this image to New Bussa in 2002 during the Recee and gained access into the Royal Palace, the acting Emir stated that the photograph was originally taken in front of the old Palace walls in Old Bussa. This town is now under water due to the construction of the Kainji Dam in the Seventies.

Fig.3: Close up of Lander Ring (2004)

Fig.4: Rear of medal now worn smooth (2004)

On the reverse of the medal, which in Fig.4 is now worn smooth, was originally an elaborate coat of arms, with a lion and unicorn either side representing the medieval house of Plantagnet. Beneath the coat oof arms was the abbreviated French motto- ‘Dieu et Mon Droit’- ‘God, and my right’.



Fig 5: Steve Dunstone presenting The Emir of Borgu with Silver Expedition medal


Fig.6: Simon Hendra with Lander Ring


At the start of our 2004 River Niger Expedition, my team and I were given a memorable 'send-off' from the people of Borgu. Several hundred people had gathered in the local Square together with various stalls displaying items and artefacts from their history. It was here I had the pleasure of presenting HRH Dr. ( Sen.) H. Dantoro, CON. Kitoro 111, Mai Borgu, Emir of Borgu Kingdom our new Silver Expedition medal to commemorate the transaction between the Lander brothers and his great Anscestor and the 200th Anniversary since Richard Landers birth. This was a very special moment for me as Two years earlier on our initial recee, I had this very vision of the start of our river journey together with such a presentation in front of excited local people. For that vision to become a reality in every way was a very moving experience for me and one I shall always treasure.


Fig.7: Team photograph after presentations

Fig 8: Dave Haining with many ‘friendship boxes’ of educational supplies;
packed by Children from various UK schools.


2009

Five years after the completion of the expedition, I was invited back to Nigeria to officially open a new IT centre at the Richard Lander Primary School in New Bussa. This was the school I had the honour of twinning with the Richard Lander School in Truro and invited to Re-name the School in 2004. In addition, I was also invited to Delta State to open the new Richard Lander Museum in Assaba. Clearly these were two significant events which were a direct result from our 2004 expedition and readily accepted the invitation.

I had also been approached by my friend and founder member of the Expedition Society of Nigeria Sam Touyo to consider hosting a conference on ‘’Expeditions and Tourism in Nigeria: The Potential’’ to be held at the Royal Geographical Society in London. This was also an ideal opportunity to honour some Special individuals whom have made a significant contribution to our earlier expedition and also within their community. It was agreed that the conference would be held on the 19th August 2009.

During May 2009, I returned to New Bussa accompanied by my friend Tim Awoyemi and Mark Loades. It is the custom on arrival to conduct a Courtesy call to the Emir of Borgu in the Royal Palace, which of course we were happy to oblige. It was good to see this remarkable man again who though quietly spoken has such power and commands the respect of his people. Sitting elevated on his throne wearing his impressive robes, we all discussed the plans for our visit over the next seven days. Also present during the audience was Andy Uwejeyan, our Sponsor and close friend of Sam’s; Andy would play a signicant part in future events.
During this audience with His Royal Highness, he said to me’’ When Richard Lander first presented the silver coin to my Ancestor, it came with a silver chain, sadly over the years the chain was lost and the coin turned into a ring. If you should care to replace the chain, then the coin shall again be worn around the neck’’
This was a significant gesture by The Emir who clearly wanted to recognise my contribution within his Kingdom. He was prepared to end the existence of the Lander Ring; no future Emir’s would proudly wear this over sized ring during their Coronation but instead on a silver chain around the neck. I felt quite ‘humble’ at this symbolic gesture by this Great man and happy that my efforts had pleased the people of Borgu. To alter this ring was changing history and indeed history linked to Richard Lander, I had mixed views about such an alteration and sought advice from several expedition members. After some consideration, I decided to ‘offer’ the silver chain to the Emir as this was his symbolic gesture and one I felt I should honour.

Our journey continued down to Delta State where we arrived at the home town of my friend Sam Touyo, whom had arranged a Courtesy call on The King of Asaba or The Asagba of Asaba, a wonderful man whom I had  the pleasure of meeting at the conclusion of the 2004 expedition.  During this audience, my guests and I were invited to The Lander Brothers Anchorage Museum, situated on the banks of the River Niger at 10am precise, the following day. With little explanation, I assumed this was going to be the ‘Grand Opening’ of the new Richard Lander Museum and built by the construction Company of Andy Uwejeyan. The following day, we arrived at the venue at 10am exactly, where I saw hundreds of people had been waiting: some seated in the shade beneath large canopy’s, children dressed in traditional Nigerian costume stood either side of a winding path which lead towards a new building with a huge blue ribbon wrapped around its middle. The entire place appeared immaculate; freshly painted walls and cut grass transformed the museum since my last visit Five years earlier.


Fig 9: Minister of Tourism, Asagba of Asaba & Steve Dunstone open the New Richard Lander Museum at The Lander Brothers Anchorage in Asaba, Delta State.
As I walked past the Council of Chiefs and VIP guests, still absorbing the excitement in the air, I was surprised to see The King of Asaba seated in the middle looking at me with a broad smile. This was highly unusual as protocol dictates the King should always arrive last. Again on this trip, I felt quite humble and rather emotional at being honoured by such a distinguished Royal Father. He rose to his feet and walked towards me inviting me to walk along side him and along the new pathway lined either side by children dressed in brightly coloured costumes. As we walked, the children, threw freshly picked‘pettles’ into our pathway as we continued towards the rather impressive new Richard Lander Museum. I was invited to hold the ribbon as the Minister of Tourism cut the ribbon as the cameras flashed. The King invited me to be the first to enter, which I did and received a truely wonderful surprise. In 2004, my team and I had agreed to donate our boat ‘’Goodwill’’ to the youth of Nigeria, in the hope that our journey would be repeated and help unite the people from two very different regions of Nigeria. There was some doubt whether the boat would be stolen, lost or destroyed by making such a donation. In Five years, I had received little news concerning the fate of ‘’Goodwill’’ until I walked into that door of the new Museum where proudly raised on several concrete plinths in the centre of the building was our boat ‘’Goodwill’’! I could scarcely believe my eyes as I walked around the boat staring in disbelief as The King of Asaba entered with various Government officials.




Historically, in this region of Nigeria, history has been passed down through generations by word of mouth and not by the written word, only in recent years is this beginning to change and the Richard Lander Museum is a symbol of that transition. I had some framed laminated copies of our Expedition brochure brought from the UK and for display within the Museum, never considering our boat would be an exhibit.
I returned home feeling a different person following that visit; I had been honoured by some important people in their own right and I now had to return such hospitality in Four months time at the Royal Geographical Society.




Fig10: Centre stage: The ‘Goodwill’ boat takes pride of place inside the Richard Lander Museum


The Lander Medal returns to England


Fig 11 & 12; The New Lander Chain at the
RGS on 19th August 2009
Two weeks prior to the Conference at the RGS, I receive a telephone call from an unknown man who knew Sam Touyo and requested to meet me after work. Later that day, I went to the O2 Arena as arranged and met a man called Tony whom presented me a plastic container with Arabic writing on and said The Emir of Borgu had asked him to personally hand this box to me in London. I opened the container to reveal the original Lander Ring. The weight of responsibility immediately enveloped me and thought of the possible consequences should I lose this most treasured item. I had two weeks to transform this item from a ring to be worn in a clasp and around one's neck fit for a King!
My work colleague Mark Loades recommended a renown Jeweller called George Collins based in Royal Tunbridge Wells. I contacted him immediately and drove down to the historic Town of Tunbridge Wells. George Collins was as excited about this commission as I was and I knew he would do this task justice. I left the ring in his safe hands.
On the 19th August 2009, I hosted a conference on Expeditions & Economic Growth in Nigeria at the Royal Geogaphical Society which was attended by prominent VIP guests from Nigeria, which included The Emir of Borgu ; The King of Asaba; Sir Mike Okiro: Inspector General of Police of Nigeria; Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan.

The day concluded with a reception dinner still within the walls of the RGS and I requested the services of ex MP Jaques Arnold to kindly present some awards to our guests in recognition to assistance given to my expedition and within their own community. However, the significance and historical importance of the final presentation to The Emir was the highlight of the evening. The Lander medal had finally returned home to the RGS formerly the African Association after nearly 200 years
.
Fig 12


At the end of an exhausting and warm day, I had the pleasure of overseeing the final presentation to the Emir of Borgu whom would now receive the new Lander Chain from Jacques Arnold. As he presented the presentation box to HRH The Emir of Borgu he opened the two small doorways revealing the Lander Chain, a smile crept over his face, I could tell he was pleased.

I was pleased the conference had been a success and thought the final presentation would provide a fitting conclusion to the events of the day but I should never underestimate the gestures from The Emir. After he had received the Lander Chain he made a memorable speech to the dinner guests, at its conclusion he made an announcement which astonished both my Nigerian friends and myself. He invited me to return to New Bussa in Four weeks time to the First Borgu Gani Festival to be turbaned as a Chief in the presence of The President of Nigeria and thousands of people. I would be given the title of Mabudi of Borgu ( Key) This was clearly completely different from a previous turbanning ceremony I was given on the banks of the River Niger at Jebba in 2004, as several of my Nigerian friends rose to their feet and came to congratulate me, again I felt rather humble but delighted.
Special thanks should go to George Collins for his fine work on the Lander Chain together with Tim Awoyemi whom financed its commission.

Fig.13; Jacques Arnold presenting HRH The Emir of Borgu
the new Lander Chain at the RGS on the 19th August 2009

History of the Lander Medal

When I first saw the Lander Ring inside the Royal Palace in New Bussa, I noticed T.WYNN inscribed around the outside edge of the medal. Later researched established that this was the engraver at the Royal Mint Mr. Thomas Wyon Junior, whom was responsible for the engraving of this George 111 North American Indian Peace Medal.
Mr.Thomas Wyon Junior was born in Birmingham in 1792; at the age of 14 he was apprentice to his Father, who by then had obtained the appointment of Chief Engraver of Seals. Thomas Wyon Junior joined the school of Sculpture of the Royal Acadamy, where he obtained two silver prize medals. While only 16 he engraved his first medallic die in 1809, and in 1810 and again in 1811 was awarded the gold medal of the Royal Society of Arts. In the latter year he was appointed Probationer Engraver of the Mint and given the work of making the dies for the famous Bank of England and Bank of Ireland tokens. Finally on 13th October 1815 he was appointed, at the age of 23, Chief Engraver to the Mint. It was obvious that a genius at this particular type of work had been discovered, and like many , he packed a great amount oof work in to a short life, since he died of consumption at Hastings in September 1817.