This year we shall commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of the legendary explorer Dr David Livingstone and it was with this in mind that Judith and I were invited to visit Zambia and Namibia recently.

We carried with us a beautiful leather-bound photographically reproduced copy of Livingstone’s best selling “Missionary Travels” published in 1857.  This fine volume had been published by Time-Life books and covers his journeys and expeditions up to March 1856.
Dr. Livingstone meets Stanley
David Livingstone, a truly self made man was born at Blantyre near Glasgow and leaving school aged 10, spent 14 years working in a cotton mill.   Strict upbringing in the Church of Scotland led him to become a missionary.  However whilst working long hours at the mill he learned Latin  and Greek from a book mounted in front of his spinning machine.  Later he went on to study theology and medicine becoming a qualified doctor and ordained as a member of the London Missionary Society.

His original intention of working in China was cancelled due to the Opium War so he turned his attention to Southern Africa.  Livingstone’s book describes his early work in the land much of which was still to be explored.  Within months of arriving in Cape Town, he was pressing into unknown territory and during the next 10 years  was constantly on the move nearly dying of thirst, hunger and fever.  However, as a missionary he must be judged a failure, winning only one convert who later lapsed, but as an explorer he was already gaining fame; being awarded a gold medal by the Royal Geographical Society for his part in the discovery of Lake Ngami.  Throughout these years, Livingstone had to contend with predatory Boers and hostile natives.  But perhaps the severest trial came in 1844 when he was mauled so severely by a lion that he almost lost the use of his left arm.

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Thursday, January 10th, 2013