Dr. Livingstone, I Presume

By | December 14, 2018

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Wood engravings from the 19th century shows Henry Morton Stanley Stanley (l) meeting Dr. David Livingstone in Ujiji. (Photo by Archive Gerstenberg/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

No one exemplified the dashing bravery of the Victorian-era British Colonialism like Dr. David Livingstone. A doctor, scientist, missionary, explorer, and rags-to-riches success story, Livingstone lived at a time when the British were obsessed with all things African. Livingstone’s personal obsession was finding the source of the Nile River, in part so he could be the explorer who discovered the source of the mighty river, and in part so it would give him fame, prestige, and power. He intended to use that power to influence others about the evils of slavery, a cause close to his heart. Things went bad for the intrepid explorer until his whereabouts were discovered by Henry Morton Stanley, who uttered the famous quip, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume.” What led to this meeting between European explorers in the heart of Africa? 

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Dr. Livingston named Victoria Falls after Queen Victoria (travelafricmag.com)

Livingstone had led Several African Expeditions

British explorers were keenly interested in the mysterious and uncharted African continent, particularly the interior. In the mid-1800s, Dr. David Livingstone had already led other expeditions into the African interior and discovered many wonders and unique natural features. One of them was the spectacular waterfall that he named after Queen Victoria, Victoria Falls. Although Livingstone was one of the first Europeans to set eyes on Victoria Falls, Livingstone had the biggest prize in mind…the source of the Nile River.