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Who was David Livingstone?

Updated on December 3, 2016

David Livingstone (1813-1873), was born at Blantyre in Scotland; from the age often, he worked in a cotton factory, but educated himself so that he was able to study medicine. In 1840 the London Missionary Society sent him out to Bechuanaland in South Africa, where he worked for ten years as a missionary, often accompanied on his journeys by his wife and children. He then made up his mind it was his duty to open up the unexplored interior of Africa, alone except for native porters and guides. In 1852- 6 he crossed Africa from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, tracing the course of the Zambezi River and discovering the Victoria Falls. In 1858-63 he explored eastern and central Africa, discovering Lake Nyasa and seeing for himself the disastrous effects of the slave trade carried on by the Arabs.

His third great expedition lasted from 1865 to 1873, when he traveled vast distances in search of the sources of the Nile; he suffered from fever and many hardships and, in Europe, was given up for lost until dramatically discovered at Ujiji by H. M. Stanley. By this time his health was ruined and soon after he had set out on yet another expedition his servants found him dead. They carried him and his journals 1,000 miles to Zanzibar and his body is buried in Westminster Abbey. Livingstone's travels, made known to the public through his books, aroused enormous interest and convinced Europeans that great opportunities awaited the white man in Africa. Livingstone himself hoped that his journeys and writings would lead to the spread of Christianity and to the stamping out of the slave trade. Though he took a paternal attitude towards the Africans, he loved and respected them and believed that they would soon be able to take their place in the modern world.


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