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Berthe Cabra facts for kids

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Cabra Graphic
The Graphic (1907) on Madame Cabra's travels

Berthe Cabra née Gheude de Contreras (27 June 1864, Berchem – 26 January 1947) was a Belgian married to Commander Alphonse Cabra of the Belgian army with the claim to be the first European woman to travel across Africa from west to east over land between 1905 and 1906.

Berthe Cabra
Cabra c. 1900

Berthe was the daughter of Jean-Martin Gheude and d'Euphrosyne d'Alcantara de Contreras. She married Alphonse Cabra on 25 April 1901 and travelled with him across Africa. The mission was to delineate the boundary between the Belgian Congo and the French colonies. King Leopold II allowed Berthe to accompany Alphonse despite his reluctance. The couple left Brussels on 10 April 1905 and travelled from Napoli aboard the Margraff and reached Mombasa in East Africa. They used the railway line to and crossed Lake Victoria using the SS Sybil. They then moved to the foot of Stanley Falls and then down the Congo river to Matadi and finally Boma reaching in October 1906.

The also collected artefacts during the trip which are part of the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren. The trip earned fame for Madame Cabra and she was a famous figure in the newspapers. The couple settled in Berchem where Berthe died on 26 January 1947.

Cabra received the Chevalier of the Order of the Crown in 1925, Knight of the Order of Leopold in 1926 and the Congo commemorative medal in 1929. In 1932, she founded a scholarship of 50,000 francs at the Colonial University of Antwerp.

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