AUTHOR: Vautier Golding
WHAT TERRITORY WAS EXPLORED AND WHEN? From the mid 1840’s until his death in 1873 David Livingstone explored the unmapped interior of Africa. He searched for the source of the Nile and Congo Rivers and was the first European to see Mosi-oa-Tunya Waterfall, which he renamed Victoria Falls.
WHO DID THE EXPLORING? David Livingstone was born to a struggling Scottish family and worked long hours in a cotton mill beginning at the age of ten. He was an avid reader with a deep interest in nature, science and theology. By sheer determination he was able to study medicine and partake in missionary training. He longed to be a missionary in China but because of a war there he was sent to South Africa instead. Upon finding South Africa humming with missionaries he decided to go into the untapped interior of Africa for potential converts.
HOW WAS THE TRIP? He dealt with numerous encounters with wild animals, including attacks by a lion and a rhinoceros. Livingstone also endured drought, fever and transportation hardships. The deadly tsetse-fly feasted upon many of his beasts of burden, once killing his entire team of oxen within moments while they were pulling his wagon. Dehydration was a threat on a Kalahari Desert expedition while a leaky boat was a constant irritation on his Zamesi River expedition. He was witness to the evils of the slave trade with natives being bought or captured by the Portuguese and the Arabs. He would befriend a tribe of Africans and upon returning to their village years later find it decimated and empty, cleaned out and burned down by slavers. He once witnessed this very atrocity first hand.
WHAT WAS GAINED? When back in England, Livingstone wrote and lectured on the horrors he witnessed in relation to slavery. He awakened in his countrymen and others around the world a desire to put an end to this wicked activity. He advocated trade of natural resources along Central Africa’s natural commercial highway, the Zamesi River, as a replacement to slavery. He helped countless natives with his medical skills and other know-how, teaching them how to irrigate for instance. He mapped central Africa and opened it up for settlement. But most of all he was a good and kind influence. He was not sent to Africa “to get ivory and gold and slaves but to give a good message of wisdom, and to set men free.”
First published over a century ago, this books describes Livingstone as having a wonderful gift for finding his way into the hearts of men.
Activity: I’ll bet Dr. Livingstone would rock at this game! Test your African geographic knowledge here.