Thursday, July 9, 2015

Meeting David Livingstone

A few days ago, I received a note from my son:
Re: Meeting Dr. Nelson
“Last night I accompanied Pastor Matt on a pastoral visitation for one of the senior members. Since it was the same place I was last November, I had a brief tour. Shown the exact spot where I had seized, it was actually within a stone's throw of the Emergency entrance. I viewed the actual room where I was treated on arrival...and had a brief opportunity to meet Dr. Nelson, who had been assigned to my case on ER arrival. My wrist band said, “Dr. Hilal Abboushi”, but he was the assigned internalist after ER revival. And, of course, there was a cardiologist involved.
But it was Dr. Nelson who actually saved my life.”

When I read the foregoing, my immediate memory flash was about... 
Meeting Dr. Livingstone!
What do I know about him? Not Much!
Now, my interest was piqued as I recalled the greeting
that has long been remembered over the years.

Dr. Livingston, I presume?”
asked Henry Morton Stanley
as he met this man...unheard of and unseen for four years,
…supposedly 'disappeared' off the planet.

Early Life: David Livingstone was born 19 March 1813, in the mill town of Blantyre, Scotland in a tenement building for workers of a cotton factory along the banks of the Clyde River. At the age of 10, he was employed in the cotton mill. He and his 12-year-old brother worked 12 to 14 hour days as 'piecers' (tying broken cotton threads on the spinning machines). He was a student at the Charing Cross Medical School from 1838-40; his courses covered...medical practices , midwifery and botany.

His father, Neil, was a Sunday School teacher and a tea-totaller who handed out Christian tracts on his travels from door to door as a tea salesman. He read extensively books on theology, travels and most missionary enterprises. Understandingly, young David became a very avid reader; however he enjoyed scouring the countryside for animal, plant and geological specimens in local limestone quarries. David's deep interest in nature and science
led him to investigate the relationship between religion and science.

At Anderson's College in Glasgow, he attended Greek and theology lectures. Then later, at London Missionary Society for missionary training. Livingstone hoped to go to China as a missionary, but due to the First Opium War in1839, he was encouraged by the LMS missionary, Robert Moffat, that African slave trade might be destroyed through the influence of 'Legitimate Trade' and the spread of Christianity. Livingstone, then focused his ambitions on South Africa.

Exploration of Southern and Central Africa: Livingstone was one of the first Westerners to make a transcontinental journey across Africa. His motto, inscribed in the base of the statue dedicated to him at Victoria Falls was: Christianity, Commerce and Civilization…which would form an alternative to the slave trade which was still rampant in Africa at that time. It was the abolition of African slave trade ~ his primary motivation. To him, the key to achieving these goals was the navigation of the Zambezi River…a Christian commercial highway into the interior. He returned to Britain to try to garner support for his ideas ~ and to publish a book on his travels which brought him fame as one of the leading explorers of the age. With the help of the Royal Geographical Society, Livingstone was appointed as “Her Majesty’s Consul” for the east coast of Africa.

Zambezi Expedition: The British Government arranged to fund Livingstone’s idea and he returned to Africa as head of the Zambezi Expedition to examine the natural resources of southeastern Africa to open up the River Zambezi. Unfortunately, it turned out to be completely impassable to boats past the Cahora Bassa rapids: a series of cataracts and rapids that Livingstone had failed to explore on his eastern travels. The expedition lasted from March 1858 until the middle of 1864.

The River Nile: In January, 1866, he returned to Africa, this time to Zanzibar from where he set out to seek the source of the Nile…identifying Lake Albert on Lake Victoria as the source (which was partially correct as the Nile ‘bubbles from the ground, high in the mountains of Burundi’ (halfway between Lake Tanganyika and Lake Victoria).

The year 1869, began with Livingstone finding himself ill while in the jungle. He was rescued by Arab traders who gave him medicines and carried him to an Arab outpost.

Geographical Discoveries: He discovered for Western science, numerous geographical features such as Lake Ngami, Lake Malawi and Lake Bangweulu…in addition to Victoria Falls and the course of many rivers, especially the upper Zambezi. The farthest north he reached (the northern end of Lake Tanganyika), was still south of the equator. He did not penetrate the rain forest of the River Congo any further downstream than Ntangwe near Misisi.
Livingstone was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society of London
and made a Fellow in the Society with which he had a strong association the rest of his life.

Stanley Meeting: Livingstone completely lost contact with the outside world for 6 years and was ill most of the last 4 years of his life. Henry Morton Stanley, who had been sent to find him by the New York Herald newspaper in 1869, found Livingstone on November 10, 1871 in Ujiji on the shores of Lake Tanganyika…greeting him with the now famous words:
Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” to which Livingstone responded,
Yes, I feel thankful that I am here to welcome you.”

Despite Stanley’s urgings, he was determined not to leave Africa until his mission was complete. His mission made him confused…and he had judgement difficulties at the end of his life. He failed to find connections to the Nile River…and retired to Lake Bangweulu and its swamps to explore possible rivers flowing out northward.

Death: David Livingstone died in Chief Chitamba’s village near Lake Bangweulu (present day Zambia) on May 1, 1873 from malaria and internal bleeding caused by dysentery.

His Legacy:

In Canada: The “The Livingstone Range” ~ mountains of southern Alberta.
David Livingstone Elementary School ~ Vancouver, British Columbia
David Livingstone Community School ~ Winnipeg, Manitoba
Bronze bust ~ Halifax, Nova Scotia
Gold bust ~ Borden, Ontario
David Livingstone Avenue ~ Barrie, Ontario

Other Memorials:  Livingstone made geographical discoveries for European knowledge.
He inspired abolition of the slave trade; he inspired explorers and missionaries.
He opened up Central Africa to missionaries who initiated the education and health care for Africans.
He developed trade by the African Lakes Company.
He was held in esteem by many African chiefs and local people.
His name facilitated relationship between them and the British.

Merle Baird-Kerr…information assembled April 26, 2015
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