David Livingstone was born in Scotland, and he was a physician by profession. He is also remembered as an explorer of the African continent. He was very passionate about exploring the source of the River Nile in Africa. It was on November 16, 1855, that Livingstone named a waterfall to Victoria Falls in love for his queen.
Within the Zambian Territory, a hotel has been named after this Scottish explorer. You don’t need to be well acquainted with history to become familiar with this great explorer. We have gathered 9 surprising facts about him for our readers.
David Livingstone: 9 cool and interesting facts about the Missionary
1. He wanted to go to China
The Scottish explorer and physician, David Livingstone, actually wanted to travel to China, an interesting fact about David Livingstone. The opium war erupted in September of the year 1839, and this forced him to change his plans. So, he focused on exploring Africa.
2. As a missionary, Livingstone was terrible
According to historians, Livingstone traveled to the African continent in the year 1841 as a missionary. His focus was towards exploring trade routes with other parts of the world, linking with Africa, to expose slave trading. On one occasion, he turned out to be a terrible missionary with one of the tribal chiefs, Sechele, which forced him to tender resignation from the London Missionary Society.
3. David Livingstone found medication for malaria
David Livingstone suffered from dysentery, sleeping sickness, and malaria during his explorations. Livingstone was the first person to establish a relation between mosquito and malaria. After him, Ronald Ross was the one to prove the link. So, Livingstone developed medication for malaria while he suffered from it for the first time. Being a physician, he also developed a relationship between tick bites and relapsing fever, a fun fact about David Livingstone. He was right in his argument to prove the connection between environment and diseases, including dysentery, typhoid, and pneumonia.
4. He used to travel with minimum supplies
David Livingstone learned several African languages and made friendships with local chiefs of various tribes. He had an advantage over other travelers that he used to travel with less burden and luggage. In those days, expeditions were planned with armed soldiers for security as well as porters to carry supplies and care for the animals, including camels and horses. This was seen as a threat to the locals. So, Livingstone traveled with few porters and servants to take care of the supplies. Another key feature of his travel was that he traded supplies with the local people on the way.
When he visited Britain, he was celebrated as a national hero. The Royal Geographical Society awarded him with a gold medal while Oxford University honored him with a doctorate. He also was among the private audience of Queen Victoria. He was no less than a celebrity across the country.
5. David Livingstone wasn’t an organized traveler
When David Livingstone was on the Zambezi expedition from 1858 till 1864, he discovered Lake Malwai. It was the time when one of the members of his expedition criticized Livingstone for being moody and unorganized during the journey. His physician, John Kirk, wrote about Livingstone in 1862 that he was not a very good expedition leader and remained out of his mind, most of the time. At the time when his wife died and when Livingstone lost some of his assistants, he was adamant about traveling anywhere.
6. Livingstone was a strong critique of slavery
David Livingstone, through his writings, gathered massive support against slavery, an interesting David Livingstone fact. He was a strong vocal to fight slave trading in Africa. He was of the view that slavery can be fought through education, business, and religion across the African continent. In the end, he became an individualist explorer because he lacked the skills of a proper expedition leader. He also wanted not to get support from slave assistants who used to accompany him during his expeditions.
An important thing to mention here is that the massacre of around 400 slaves during his expedition to discover the source of river Nile shattered Livingstone. The tragedy took place at Nyangwe, and after that, Livingstone abandoned his journey.
7. This missionary faced failures and had one regret
David Livingstone suffered failures in his last 2 expeditions. The first disappointment he faced was a failure to discover a river that went across the Southern African belt. Unfortunately, he failed to discover any such navigable river during his expedition. Meanwhile, during his second expedition, he wanted to identify the source of the river Nile. To his utter disappointment, he failed in this expedition too. When he discovered the Lualaba River, Livingstone mistakenly termed it as a source of river Nile.
Livingstone had one regret in his life about not spending much time with his children. When he married Mary Moffat, Livingstone spent only 4 years with his wife, and they had many kids. At an occasion, David Livingstone planned to take his wife and the children on an expedition. When his mother-in-law became to know about it, she wrote a letter to Livingstone about her distress.
8. David Livingstone disappeared for 6 years
David Livingstone went missing for around 6 years, and he lost complete contact with the outside world. Journalist Henry Stanley was prepared for an expedition to Africa to locate the physician. The journalist successfully found Livingstone in the year 1871 in Ujiji, and when they both met, Stanley said: “I presume, you are Dr. Livingstone.” David Livingstone was the only white person for hundreds of miles, a fun fact about David Livingstone.
9. His heart is buried in Africa
He died from malaria and dysentery on May 1, 1873, in a village of North Rhodesia (now it is Zambia). He was 60 years old, and his heart was buried in Africa, but his remains were buried at Westminster Abbey in England. In present Africa, a memorial has been erected on the site where his heart was buried.
So, these were some facts about this great explorer. Livingstone inspired several other travelers to follow his footsteps for devoting their lives for the uplift of the African continent. When Livingstone was alive, he spent most of the time exploring and did little missionary work.
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