May 19, 2024

Hankering for History

Hanker: To have a strong, often restless desire, in this case for–you guessed it–history!

“His Heart Belongs in Africa” Part Two

2 min read
Livingstone Memorial

Livingstone Memorial, Where His Heart is Buried

If you haven’t already, check out part one: His Heart Belongs in Africa.

By request of the New York Herald, Henry Morton Stanley went to find Dr. Livingstone. As Livingstone had been incommunicado for several years, this would prove to be a monumental feat.  Upon finding him in the town of Ujiji, on November 10, 1871, Stanley greeted him with the all too familiar phrase,

“Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”

And in response, Livingstone responded,

“Yes, and I feel thankful that I am here to welcome you.”

This famous quote became popular because of its tongue-in-cheek humor. Henry Morton Stanley did not want to be disrespectful to the world-renowned Dr. Livingstone, but it was almost ludicrous to ask if he was Dr. Livingstone. As Stanley and Livingstone were the only two white men for hundreds of miles, it was a fairly safe assumption that he was indeed that man he was seeking. After spending some time with Livingstone, exploring and searching for the source of the Nile, Stanley left Africa. Before leaving, however, he begged Livingstone to come back to Britain with him. Livingstone, with not all of his faculties intact, made another poor decision and stayed behind.

It would only be a matter of months before David Livingstone passed away from malaria and internal bleeding, caused by dysentery. Upon his death, Britain requested to have his body. After all the accomplishments Livingstone had completed, they wanted to give his body a proper burial. Unwilling at first, the village of Ilala gave the body to Britain, but not before taking out his heart. Attached to his body they sent back a note that said, “You can have his body, but his heart belongs in Africa!” His body rests at Westminster Abbey and his heart was buried under a Mvula tree near the spot of the current Livingstone Memorial.

Livingstone Memorial
Livingstone Memorial, Where His Heart is Buried

Dr. Livingstone left behind a great legacy. He played a prominent role in the spread of Christianity in Africa, he made many geographical discoveries, and he was instrumental in ending slave trade in Africa. Before Livingstone’s time, the regions and details concerning most of Africa was unknown. The African map was a large, blank canvas. Because of his exploration, geographical features such as Victoria Falls, Lake Ngami, Lake Malawi, Lake Bangweulu, Lake Tanganyika, and Lake Mweru could now be placed on a map. Regarding slave trade, he was unable to see the fruits of his labor, but while he was alive he requested that the House of Commons help stop the slave traders. One month after his death, the British threatened a naval blockade which forced the Arab Sultan to close the African slave market.

Britain is lucky to have such a dedicated man in their history books. He set out with a mission and I believe he did more than his fair share in living up to his motto, “Christianity, Commerce and Civilization.”

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