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David Livingstone

David Livingstone was born at Blantyre (8 miles south of Glasgow) on 19th March 1813 in this single apartment home in a tenement building called “Shuttle Row”. These buildings housed the workers of the cotton-spinning mill located just below on the banks of the River Clyde. When Livingstone was ten he was sent to work at the mill. The bell which beckoned him to work a six a.m. and held him captive until 8 p.m. each evening is still attached to the side of Shuttle Row. Even at this late hour Livingstone’s work was not yet over. Along with the other mill children he attended night school. Some were so tired that they could do little else but sleep but Livingstone studied hard, often until very late at night.
Livingstone’s Christian upbringing prepared him to respond to an appeal by the Chinese Missions and he determined to become a missionary to China. In 1836 Livingstone embarked upon a medical degree at Anderson’s College in Glasgow. Here he studied through out the winter months returning to the mill in summer. However, his original plan to become a medical missionary to China was thwarted by the outbreak of the “Opium War” which closed China to him. During his studies he attended a meeting addressed by Dr Robert Moffat, a fellow Scot home on furlough from a mission station at Kuruman, 500 miles north of Cape Town. Livingstone heard of the vast untouched regions of Central Africa and the ‘smoke of a thousand villages’ where the Gospel had never been preached and soon his thoughts were turning to the great uncharted continent of Africa. In 1840, under the auspices of the London Missionary Society, Livingstone set sail for Africa on board the sailing ship. In August 1865 Livingstone left the shores of Britain behind once more. This would become his final expedition to Africa and was funded by the Royal Geographical Society who asked him to seek the sources of the Nile. His seven year journey of exploration taking him from Zanzibar to Lake Tanganyika around the country of the Great Lakes of Mweru and Bangweulu. In what has become one of the most famous meetings in history, Stanley encountered Livingstone in Ujiji with the words, “Dr Livingstone, I presume”. The arrival of supplies, medicines, news and a kindred spirit greatly refreshed the ailing missionary. However, refusing Stanley’s offer of passage home, Livingstone once more bid farewell to Western companionship and ventured south down the east banks of Lake Tanganyika and Bangweulu. Deteriorating health, exacerbated by swampy terrain and torrential rain resulted in his followers carrying him as far as Ilala where, at the village of Chief Chitambo, they built a hut for him to rest.
At 4 am on 1st May 1873 they found him kneeling by his bedside having died in prayer. In accordance with their beliefs, Livingstone’s heart was buried under a Mvula tree near to the spot where he died; but his body had to be returned to Britain and so his faithful companions Susi, Chuma, Jacob Wainwright and others set out on an epic journey which ultimately brought them to the coast at Bagamoyo. His body reached England on board the steamer Malwa, and on 18th April 1874 – a day of national mourning – Livingstone was buried in Westminster Abbey. Today the National Memorial to David Livingstone is housed in the original mill worker’s tenement on the banks of the River Clyde.
A fitting tribute to the man who, more than any other, brought the Light of the Christian Gospel to the Dark Continent of Africa.

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