Monday, May 13, 2013

Dr. Livingstone

David Livingstone staue near Victoria Falls, Z...
David Livingstone staue near Victoria Falls, Zambia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Stanley posing later (in London) with Kalulu i...
Stanley posing later (in London) with Kalulu in the "suit he wore" when he found Livingstone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The phrase "Dr. Livingstone, I presume," has become much more popular than the situation it arose from.

So who was this Dr. Livingstone and where did the quote come from? Dr. David Livingstone was a 19-century Scottish missionary who lost his way while in Africa.

Livingstone came to Africa in 1840, lauded as a British hero for his hopes to help end slave trade and also to explore the continent; he ended up exploring an area that was previously unfamiliar to most explorers- central Africa and the Congo region.

During the Zambezi expedition, Livingstone's wife died of malaria, and gradually his other companions died or left him. In response to the troubles, Livingstone famously responded, "I am prepared to go anywhere, provided it be forward."

Following this expedition, support for funding Livingstone's expeditions fell. Livingstone still proceeded to continue with his fascination with parts of Africa, including the Nile River, and his attempts to explore them. His journal makes clear the many important geographical discoveries Livingstone made, including  Lake Ngami, Lake Malawi, and Lake Bangweulu, and Victoria Falls. However, he fell quite ill during his journey and had to rely on slave traders to be moved at all. The horrors he witnessed by the hands of slave traders during his time spent ill finally dissuaded him from continuing his explorations. He traveled to Ujiji, an Arab settlement, where he was found by Henry Stanley.

During Livingstone's time trapped in Africa, his fame continued to spread, as well as the story of him going missing in interior Africa. Stanley, who traveled to Africa with 200 men to explore the continent's interior, found Livingstone within the town of Ujiji and uttered, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" upon seeing the only white man in the entire village.

The conversation continued: "Yes."
Stanley: "I thank God, Doctor, I have been permitted to see you."
Livingstone: "I feel thankful that I am here to welcome you." 
Despite his illness and disillusionment due to the slave traders, Livingstone still felt compelled to finish his mission, against Stanley's urging.

Sources: Wikipedia, Eye Witness to
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