Joseph Thomson named the mountain range after the Society’s President in 1884, Lord Aberdare. Aberdare’s first session in the (Presidential) chair at a Society lecture evening (November 1880) had been on the occasion of Joseph Thomson’s paper on the Society’s East African Expedition. The ‘scramble for Africa’ continued as a major theme throughout his Presidency (1880-1887).
When Thomson later gave his account ‘Through the Masai country to Victoria Nyanza’ (evening meeting of 3 November 1884 – reported in the Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society and Monthly Record of Geography, New Monthly Series, Vol. 6, No. 12, Dec. 1884, pp. 690-712), he described encountering “… a magnificent range of mountains. As this range had no name I have taken the liberty to give it that of our respected President…” (p.704). In fact, of course, the range already had a name; ‘Nyandarura’ – the word for a traditional rack for drying animals skins and hides, which the range resembles.