Wednesday, 11 June 2008

The Father of Africa


David Livingstone was born on March 13, 1813 in Blantyre, Scotland, near Glasgow. He became a doctor and a missionary, and devoted much of his life to exploring Africa. He helped Europeans learn a lot about the continent of Africa.

Livingstone was one of the first Europeans to explore the central and southern parts of Africa. He first went to Africa as a Christian missionary in 1841, when he was 27 years old. He decided that the best way to teach Africans about Christ was to move about and see as many people as he could. That is how he became an African explorer.

He married Mary Moffat in 1845 and she (and later their children) came along with Livingstone on his early explorations. In 1849, he led a group of Europeans across the Kalahari Desert and discovered Lake Ngami. Two years later, he again travelled through the Kalahari with his family.

He continued crossing the continent of Africa during three different time periods: 1852-56, 1858-64, and 1866-73. In 1856, he travelled on the Zambezi River, and became the first European to see the spectacular Victoria Falls. He also became the first European to cross the entire width of southern Africa.

These accomplishments made him very famous in England. He wrote a book about his experiences in Africa and traveled around England giving speeches in 1856 and 1857. Livingstone went back to Africa in 1858 and is credited with the discovery of Lake Nyasa in 1858, the Chilwa River in 1859, and more of the Nile River.

In 1866 David Livingstone went on an expedition to discover more of the Nile River. While on this expedition he was lost and no one heard from him. In 1871, a New York reporter, Henry Morton Stanley, led an expedition to find him. When they found him, Stanley said those famous words, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume."

David Livingstone died in that area in Chief Chitambo's village at Ilala southeast of Lake Bangweulu in Zambia, on May 1, 1873 from malaria and internal bleeding caused by dysentery. He was found on his knees, dead in his prayers at his bedside. (His journal indicates that the date of his death would have been May 1, but his attendants noted the date as May 4, which they carved on a tree and later reported; this is the date on his grave.) Livingstone's heart was buried under a Mvula tree near the spot where he died, now the site of the Livingstone Memorial. His body, along with his personal items and papers, were sent back to England. This journey took almost a full year. He was buried in Westminster Abbey in London in April, 1874.

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