David Livingstone

by Shahil from San Diego

David Livingstone (
David Livingstone

A failure. A failed missionary. The man who only had one convert to Christianity. The one who wasted his life in Africa getting sick. That is the image people come across when they hear about David Livingstone. But Livingstone was more than that. Livingstone rose above the norm. He rose above lethargy, materialism, selfishness, and all the other major dilemmas in the world. Livingstone always absorbed himself in action, never giving up, placing others first. A hero. David Livingstone is worthy of the title of “hero” because he chose to leave his comfort zone to endure a life of hardships for a higher goal, and persevered at all costs, along with being an inspiration to others to follow their hearts.

David Livingstone was an explorer of Africa and an abolitionist. Born on March 18, 1813, in Blantyre, Scotland, Livingstone discovered many landmarks in Africa that Europeans didn't know about, such as the Botlete River. He also discovered the Zambezi River at the end of 1851. In 1856, Livingstone became the first person to cross Africa from coast to coast, one of his most notable feats. Then, in 1855, he returned back to England and was awarded, showered with praise, and recognized as an explorer. But he loved Africa and returned back to the continent, and went on to discover Lake Bangwelu, on July 18, 1868. His immune system weakened because of his consistent sickness, along with malnutrition, which eventually led to his death at midnight on May 1, 1871.

David Livingstone is a hero because he gave up an easy life for a life of hardships to explore Africa for the rest of the world. David Livingstone lived in Scotland, then decided to sail to Africa, eventually crossing the African continent from the west to east coast. However, along the trip, his wife came down with a fever and passed away (DISCovering Biography). Taking this risk to explore Africa, Livingstone pressed on so that his discoveries would be made known to the Western world. Once he got to Africa, “He sailed to Cape Town, spending a month there before sailing to Algoa Bay, where he arrived on March 15, 1841, just four days before his twenty-eighth birthday. He then made a 10-week, 700-mile journey by ox cart to Kuruman, a mission station among the Tswana people established by Dr. Robert Moffat” (DISCovering Biography). David Livingstone was still young, but he wanted to explore Africa for the rest on the world. He was ready to give up whatever he had at home and go on this expedition that might even cost him his life. Seven hundred miles is a long distance, even by car. However, he had to use ox cart, which not only held a history of unreliability, but also a history of slow travel. He endured all of this and gave up the life he had in Scotland. Also, the trip yielded a lot of discomforts. “Livingstone was sick with malaria for most of the time but was well cared for by the men in his caravan” (DISCovering Biography). By leaving his comfort zone and exploring new territory, Livingstone became susceptible to new diseases, such as malaria. Livingstone did not know the future. He did not know about the diseases he would have to face. But he took the risk. 

A painting of the time a lion attacked Livingston (
A painting of the time a lion attacked Livingston

Livingstone is hero-worthy because he persevered no matter what, enduring and overcoming obstacles. “In March 1869 he reached Ujiji only to discover that there was no mail and that his supplies had been stolen. He was sick, depressed, and exhausted, but in September he set out again, witnessing at Nyangwe the horrors of the Arab slave trade. He returned to Ujiji in October 1871” (Hassing). Livingstone, in a new environment, with new people, kept pursuing his goal. His support came from his family, and that happened by mail. But his mail disappeared. This meant that he would have to endure without support from his family. In addition to having his supplies stolen, Livingstone was sick, tired, and depressed. But he pushed on. He kept going. Later, “By August 1843, he had founded his own mission station at Mabotsa, 250 miles north of Kuruman. While there, he was attacked and almost killed by a lion. He was saved by a companion who distracted the lion's attention, but for a while it was not clear whether he would survive or not. His left shoulder was broken in several places, and he never fully regained the use of his left arm” (DISCovering Biography). After having a near-death experience, Livingstone kept going. He did not stop in the face of fear from the lion, or even the loss of his arm. Even though he had the risk of death around him, he wanted to keep doing what he loved. The loss of an arm did not stop him. David Livingstone, in an entry in his diary, wrote, "'Nothing earthly will make me give up my work in despair. I encourage myself in the Lord my God, and go forward.' By April 22, he could no longer walk and had to be carried in a litter. 'It is not all pleasure, this exploration,' he wrote in his diary” (UXL Biographies). He wanted to advance to the land unknown to Westerners, even when walking was not an option, which showed his determination. He knew that parts of the exploration would be costly and unfortunate, yet he continued at all costs to benefit the world. Just like his last name indicates, David Livingstone, was a “living stone,” where his heart and mind were like stones, steadfast in his beliefs, and his eyes set on his destination.

His men helped carry him in a litter when he fell (
His men helped carry him in a litter when he fell

David Livingstone both sacrificed and persevered for a greater good, which led him to become an inspiration to all to follow their dreams. Livingstone spent most of his life in Africa and, “In addition to his attempts to find the source of the Nile River, Livingstone discovered or explored the Zambezi, Congo, Shire, Lualaba, Rovuma, and Zouga rivers as well as Lakes Tanganyika, Nyasa, Ngami, Mweru, Bangweulu, and others. In fact, he spent most of his time traveling these waterways as he pursued his other aims, including those of trying to drive out the slave trade with a combination of religion and commerce” (Karam). Livingstone loved Africa and spent the majority of his life exploring new landmarks. He explored all of those landmarks, which goes to show that one who really loves something should no doubt go for it and strive for it, instead of doing something for world recognition. After encountering slavery in Africa, “Livingstone drew the world's attention to the great evil of the African slave traffic. He taught the world to see the African as 'wronged' rather than depraved, and the world did not rest until slavery was outlawed” (Hassing). Livingstone demonstrated his belief of righteousness. He chose to do the right thing. He knew that slavery was immoral and he fought against it. He wanted to display to the world the cruelty of slavery. Slavery was a burden in his heart and he pursued what his heart wanted. By spending all that time pushing for slavery to be abolished, others took on his role and eventually slavery was outlawed. “He opened the eyes of the world to the tremendous potentialities of Africa for human development, trade, and Christian missions; he also disclosed the horrors of the East African slave trade” (Hassing). Livingstone was a man, but not an ordinary one. He did not look to his own desires, and did not give up when faced with dilemmas. David Livingstone's work yielded to the common good of those in Africa and people around the world. He showed that there might be a trade future with Africa. He helped to free the slaves by revealing the evils about slavery to the world. David Livingstone is a hero not only because of his self-sacrifice for the greater good, but also because of his never-dying perseverance, and his inspiration to the world to follow their hearts.

Page created on 5/17/2010 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 3/16/2020 2:30:21 AM

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