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British family in frantic search for son believed to be in Nairobi

A British family is looking for their long lost son who they believe could be in Nairobi.

Christian Velten went missing in 2003 after he left his home in England for a six months expedition to Mali to follow in the footsteps of Scottish explorer Mungo Park, who had engaged in an expedition to trace the source of Niger River in the 18th century.

Niger River is the principal river of western Africa. Its source is in southeastern Guinea and runs through Mali, Niger, Benin and Nigeria.


According to his sister Hannah Velten, the young explorer left home on February 2003, aged 28, for the expedition to Mali and has never been heard of for the last 13 years.

Christian Velten. PHOTO |COURTESY

His last contact was through a telephone call he made home in March 2003 while in Kita, Mali, in which he assured the family that he had arrived at his destination and was well.

“He told us that he was in Mali, the city of Kita, and he had found a small shack with phone. He told us of his plans to go to Bamako (the capital city), where he would probably rent a canoe that will help him start his journey of the River Niger,” Hannah Velten told Nairobi News in a telephone interview on Monday.

Six months passed after the telephone conversation, and with no word from their son, the family started worrying.

They engaged the authorities in Mali in efforts to trace Christian’s steps. They made announcements on local radio stations and posted his pictures in the towns and villages. Nothing came out of it.

Hannah Velten with her brother Christian Velten. PHOTO | COURTESY
Hannah Velten with her brother Christian Velten. PHOTO | COURTESY

The frantic search continued for years, mostly focused in west Africa, including the setting up of ‘Searching for Chris Velten‘ Facebook page.


Then early this year, the family was contacted by a Kenyan conservationist who said she had received a friend request on Facebook from someone with the name and profile picture of their missing son.

“How he came to being in Kenya from Mali we do not know. We just want him to know wherever he is that we love him and we hope he is alive and well,” Hannah told Nairobi News amidst sobs.

Christian Velten. PHOTO | COURTESY

But this is not the first time the family received such reports on their son’s whereabouts. In 2005, a woman in Ghana claimed to have seen him in the streets of Accra begging for fare to get back home.

Chris, as his family calls him, is a graduate from the University of Scotland studied Zoology and had travelled to different parts of the world. One such trip was to the Caribbean where he went to study the flora and fauna and was in the process of writing a book.