1813 - 1873
Livingstone was a curious
combination of missionary, doctor, explorer,
scientist and anti-slavery activist. He spent
30 years in Africa, exploring almost a third
of the continent, from its southern tip almost
to the equator. Livingstone received a gold
medal from the London Royal Geographical for
being the first to cross the entire African
Continent from west to east. He was the first
white man to see Victoria Falls and though
he never discovered the source of the Nile,
one of his goals, he eliminated some possibilities
and thereby helped direct the efforts of others.
Although popular among native
tribes in Africa, Livingstone made enemies
of some white settlers there because he learned
African languages and had an unusually keen
understanding and sympathy for native people
and cultures. In 1843, while settling the
Mabotsa valley, Livingstone shot a lion. Before
it died, however, the lion attacked Livingstone,
costing him the use of his left arm.
In 1865, at age 52, Livingstone
set out on his last and most famous journey.
He soon lost his medicine, animals and porters,
but struggled on almost alone.
At a village on the Lualaba
River he witnessed the slaughter of villagers
by slave traders. The letter he sent home
describing the event so infuriated the public
that the English government pressured the
Sultan of Zanzibar to stop the slave trade.
The pressure was only partially successful.
The trans-Atlantic slave trade, organised
by the Portuguese, had began around 1530.
In 1562 Sir John Hawkins started the English
slave trade, taking cargoes of slaves from
West Africa to the newly discovered Americas.
Find out more about the discovery of Africa
by the Portuguese, and the discovery of the
Americas by Christopher Columbus.
On Nov. 10, 1871 in the village
of Ujiji, on the east side of Lake Tanganyika,
Livingstone encountered Henry Stanley. He
greeted him with his (now famous) comically
understated words: "Dr Livingstone, I
presume?". Stanley had been sent by the
New York Herald Tribune newspaper to help,
but it had taken a year to find him.
With Stanley's supplies Livingstone
continued his explorations, but he was weak,
worn out and suffering from dysentery. Then,
on the morning of April 30, 1872, his two
African assistants found him dead, still kneeling
at his bedside, apparently praying when he
died. They dried his body and carried it and
his papers on a dangerous 11-month journey
to Zanzibar, a trip of 1,000 miles. The natives
buried his heart in Africa as he had requested,
but his body was returned to England and buried
in Westminster Abbey.
MS Encarta Extract:
Dr. David Livingstone (1813-1873), Scottish
doctor and missionary, considered one of the
most important European explorers of Africa,
also pioneering the abolition of the slave
trade. Livingstone was born in Blantyre. After
completing his medical course in 1840, Livingstone
was ordained and sent as a medical missionary
to South Africa. In 1841 he reached Kuruman,
a settlement founded by Scottish missionary
Robert Moffat in Bechuanaland (now Botswana).
In 1849 Livingstone crossed the Kalahari Desert
and became the first European to discover
Lake Ngami. On another expedition (1852-1856),
he followed the Zambezi River to its mouth
in the Indian Ocean, thereby becoming the
first European to discover Victoria Falls.
resulted in a revision of all contemporary
maps. He returned to Britain in 1856 and was
welcomed as a great explorer. In 1866, after
commanding a series of explorations, Livingstone
led an expedition to discover the sources
of the Nile River and explore the watershed
of central Africa. Traveling along the Ruvuma
River, Livingstone reached the shore of Lake
Tanganyika in 1869.
Little was heard from Livingstone during this
period, and his welfare became a matter of
international concern. In 1870 Livingstone
traveled from Ujiji, on Lake Tanganyika, to
the Lualaba River, in present-day Democratic
Republic of the Congo (DRC, formerly Zaire),
becoming the first European to visit that
location. Upon his return to Ujiji, Livingstone
was met by a rescue party led by Henry Morton
Stanley, who is said to have greeted the explorer
with the famous remark, "Dr. Livingstone,
I presume?" Stanley and Livingstone explored
the area north of Lake Tanganyika together.
Later, Livingstone set out alone to continue
his search for the sources of the Nile.
The Christian Missionary
Mrs. J.H. Worchester writes in her book, David
Livingstone: First To Cross Africa With The
Gospel, that "as a missionary explorer,
[Livingstone] stood alone, traveling 29,000
miles in Africa, adding to the known portion
of the globe about a million square miles,
discovering lakes N'gami, Shirwa, Nyassa,
Morero and Bangweolo, the upper Zambesi and
many other rivers, and the wonderful Victoria
Falls. He was also the first European to traverse
the entire length of Lake Tanganyika, and
to travel over the vast water-shed near Lake
Bangweolo, and through no fault of his own,
he only just missed the information that would
have set at rest his conjectures as to the
His attempts to abolish the
slave trade, and to supplant it by introducing
Christianity and "legitimate" commerce
to Africa, remained a lifelong ambition, and
he resolutely pursued this crusade until his
After hearing of his death,
Florence Nightingale said: "God has taken
away the greatest man of his generation...."
Livingstone was born on March
13, 1813, in Blantyre, Scotland, where he
spent the first twenty-three years of his
life. His parents, devout Christians, played
an important role in his life by introducing
him to the subject of missions.
As a young man, he worked
in a local mill, but refused any thought of
this becoming his destiny. By the time he
turned twenty-one, Livingstone had accepted
Christ and made up his mind to become a medical
He heard of Robert Moffat,
a missionary to South Africa, tell of the
work going on in Kuruman. Within eighteen
months, he saved enough money to continue
his education. After completing medical school,
he accepted a position with the London Missionary
Society in South Africa. And on December 8,
1840, he set sail for Kuruman.
A Coast To Coast Venture
However, upon his arrival he was disappointed
by the small population of Africans living
in the region. He was determined to reach
a larger population. A year later, he was
granted permission to move 700 miles into
the African interior to establish another
missionary station. Livingstone wasted no
time setting things up at Mabotsa.
In 1845, he returned to Kuruman
where he met and married Robert Moffat's daughter,
Mary. Their marriage lasted eighteen years
and witnessed the birth of four children.
Livingstone often took his
family with him while crossing the African
wilderness. Still, there were many times when
they could not be together. The longest period
of separation was for five years between November
of 1853 and May 1856. Livingstone completed
one of the most amazing journeys ever undertaken
- a coast to coast venture that covered four
thousand miles of unexplored land, most of
which was located along the Zambezi River.
Sorrow And Victory
After an extended visit to England, Livingstone
and his wife began their last journey together.
It was during this adventure that Livingstone
faced the severest trial of his life; Mary
died in 1862 from complications related to
Sorrow and discouragement
plagued Livingstone: "It was the first
heavy stroke I have suffered, and quite takes
away my strength. I wept over her who well
deserved many tears. I loved her when I married
her, and the longer I lived with her I loved
her the more."
After several failed attempts
to set up mission stations in the interior
and along the coast, Livingstone concluded
God was leading him in another direction.
No European had ever ventured into North Africa.
This would be his next goal and his greatest
accomplishment for future missionary work.
The charts and maps he left us changed the
way we view Africa.
"I am a missionary,
heart and soul," wrote Livingstone. "God
had an only Son, and He was a missionary and
a physician. A poor, poor imitation of Him
I am, or wish to be." In this service
I hope to live; in it I wish to die."
No other person has done more to further mission
efforts than David Livingstone. He also raised
in Europe so powerful a feeling against the
slave trade that through him slavery may be
considered as having received its death blow.
Marching inland in 1866,
Livingstone reached Lake Nyasson on August
8 and began journeying north toward Lake Tanganyika.
He wrote: "O Jesus, grant me resignation
to Thy will, and entire reliance on Thy powerful
hand...The cause is Thine. What an impulse
will be given to the idea that Africa is not
open if I perish now!..."
Livingstone was often weakened
by bouts of African fever. Months rolled by
and then years without the outside world knowing
where he was. This is when a New York reporter,
Henry Morton Stanley, accepted the challenge
to "find Livingstone."
On November 10, 1871, Stanley's
caravan, loaded with supplies, reached Ujiji,
Africa. A thin, frail Livingstone stepped
out to meet him as Stanley bowed, took off
his hat, and spoke the now famous words, "Dr.
Livingstone, I presume."
Beloved The World Over
Livingstone was beloved and honored by the
world. Yet when Stanley found him, he was
weak and undernourished. The two quickly began
a friendship. After Livingstone's death, it
was Stanley who diligently worked to see missionaries
serving in the land his friend had opened.
Death came to David Livingstone
on April 30, 1873, after a long illness. His
African companions reported they found him
kneeling beside his bed where he had said
his last earthly prayer. Though his heart
remained in Africa, his body, along with his
belongings - papers and maps - was transported
to Bagamoyo on the coast and then sent to
England, where he is buried in Westminster