The White ‘Privilege’ of Overcoming Poverty & Extreme Danger To End Slavery: David Livingstone

At the age of 10, David Livingstone was working a 14 hour day, 6 days a week in dangerous conditions in Scotland. Born into poverty in 1813, Livingstone became an avid reader borrowing or saving to buy books to learn Latin, botany and more. By 12 he was devoted to his bible and Christian faith – it was this that inspired him to end the Islamic Arab-Swahili slave trade in the alien, largely unexplored, continent of Africa. Despite enduring his own deprivations from birth (being extremely poor in a Scottish winter was a harsh existence), he strove to end the misery of others.

Editor: Sources include ‘Livingstone The Liberator’ and ‘Henry Morton Stanley’ by Dr Peter Hammond. Also ‘Real Britannia: White Privilege in the Cotton Mills’ by Radio Albion (go to the 36 minute mark).

Livingstone, a courageous explorer, believed that by bringing the Christian Faith and opening up Africa, the slave trade could be abolished and replaced with lawful and ethical commerce. He was more than aware that those profiting from slavery would defend it with violence.

Livingstone The Slave Child Labourer

Cotton Factories: An example of the hazardous work for little children who were usually required to perform thread repairs while the machines continued operating.

After working 10 years in the harsh conditions of the cotton factory, Livingstone was able to save a little money to study Theology and Medicine. He finally arrived in South Africa in 1841 after a three month journey by ship and then another four months by ox-cart to reach Robert Moffat’s mission station at Kuruman.

From the harsh Cotton Mill into the jaws of a Lion in 1849 nothing deterred Dr David Livingstone. “Growling horribly close to my ear, he shook me as a terrier dog does a rat.

As Dr Hammond describes:

…David Livingstone arrived in a continent that was plagued with problems. Africa was still a place of mystery to the Europeans. The Arabs, south of the Sahara never ventured inland far from the coast. The rivers were riddled with rapids and sand bars. The deadly malaria disease was widespread and inhibited travel. Entire expeditions of 300 to 400 men had been decimated by malaria. The African terrain was difficult to negotiate. Floods, tropical forests and swamps thwarted wheeled transport.

Livingstone soon acquired a reputation for fearless faith – particularly when he walked to the Barka tribe – infamous for the murder of 4 White traders whom they had mercilessly poisoned and strangled. As the first messenger of mercy in many regions, Livingstone soon received further challenge. Chief Sechele pointed to the great Kalahari desert: “you never can cross that country to the tribes beyond; it is utterly impossible even for us Black men.” The challenge of crossing this obstacle began to fascinate Livingstone who was convinced that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13. Livingstone wrote: “I shall try to hold myself in readiness to go anywhere, provided it be forward.”

“I shall open up a path in to the interior or perish.” He declared. “May He bless us and make us blessings even unto death.” “Shame upon us missionaries if we are to be outdone by slave traders!” “If Christian missionaries and Christian merchants could remain throughout the year in the interior of the continent, in 10 years, slave dealers will be driven out of the market.”

Often Livingstone endured excessive and unnecessary suffering and deprivation hacking through dense jungle on foot because lack of funds prevented him from affording the “luxury” of a canoe!

All this in addition to enduring Malaria 27 times and encountering not only hostile tribes but ruthless slave traders.

Livingstone often saw the sickening sight of the Islamic slave trade: burned out villages, corpses floating down rivers and long lines of shackled slaves being herded through the bush. Livingstone’s mere presence often sent the Yao slave raiders scurrying into the bushes. Many hundreds of slaves were set free by Livingstone and his co-workers. On one occasion a war party of Yao warriors attacked the missionary party. While attempting to avoid confrontation, the team found themselves cut off and surrounded by the aggressive and blood thirsty mob. Finally, Livingstone was forced to give the command to return fire. The slave traders fled.

This incident led to much criticism in England. Charles Livingstone, his brother, on hearing one outburst from Britain replied: “if you were in Africa and saw a host of murderous savages aiming their heavily laden muskets and poisoned arrows at you, more light might enter your mind . . . and if it didn’t, great daylight would enter your body through arrow and bullet holes!”

Livingstone The Liberator, Dr Peter Hammond
Above Hidden History: The Uganda-Kenya Rail-line was intended to break the Arab Caravans and thus the slave trade, despite the simplistic All White, All Bad narrative.

A Relevant Diversion Into Victims Of Slavery

In 2010 Qaddafi apologised for the Arab-Swahili slave trade. He diminished the apology by ignoring the role of Bantu tribes who owned and traded slaves, instead focusing on the role of white Westerners in slavery. He conveniently ignored a few critical facts cited below.
For centuries, even after David Livingstone was born, European villages were raided for slaves to provide sex and hard-labour. Meanwhile whites were fighting for the freedom of black slaves who were captured and sold by black tribes!
Slavery: For almost 1,000 years Europeans were subjected to invasions, conquests, enslavement and extreme brutalities.
By 1833 Livingstone was 10 year veteran of the 84 hour week expected of poor white children. Yet he and his descendants were required to pay taxes to pay off Slavers! To WHO??? The British Treasury was forced to delete this factual tweet.

Livingstone The Scientist

Dr. Livingstone believed in comprehensively fulfilling the Great Commission – ministering to body, mind and spirit. Along with his Bible, surgical kit and medicine chest, Livingstone always carried a microscope and sextant – with which he observed God’s spectacularly diverse creation with awe and wonder. His books are filled with fascinating scientific, medical, botanical, anthropological and geographic observations and details. Livingstone was the first to map the great Zambezi river and many other parts of the vast hinterland of Africa. He was one of the first scientists to make the connection between mosquitos and malaria, and he pioneered the use of quinine as a treatment – often experimenting on himself!

Livingstone The Liberator, Dr Peter Hammond
Map: The incredible journeys of Livingstone in Africa between 1851 and 1873. (Click on the link to enhance the map).

Finding Livingstone: Scottish White ‘Privilege’ Meets American White ‘Privilege’!

For over 20 years, he had walked across Africa, from coast to coast, crossing the Kalahari desert, discovering Lake Ngami, Victoria Falls, one of the greatest cataracts in the world, Lake Malawi and many other previously unknown features of the continent. Dr. Livingstone was a tireless crusader against the slave trade. At 52 years old Livingstone had left England for the last time, 14 August 1865. Starting from Zanzibar, he proceeded to the mouth of the Rovuma River and from there went up to explore Lake Malawi. In December 1866, some deserters from his porters returned to Zanzibar with news that Livingstone was dead. The world mourned his passing, although some doubted the reports. When letters from Livingstone, dated February 1867 and July 1868 were brought out of the interior, it created a sensation. James Gordon Bennet believed that it would be a tremendous news story if this famous missionary explorer could be found and interviewed.

David Livingstone meeting Henry Morton Stanley: As the only two white men in all of Equatorial Africa, from the Zambezi to the Nile, met, Stanley walked deliberately towards the older man, took off his hat and said: “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” “Yes,” replied Livingstone with a smile. He lifted his cap slightly, and then Stanley shook hands declaring: “I thank God, Doctor that I have been permitted to see you.” Livingstone replied: “I feel thankful that I’m here to welcome you.” Henry Morton Stanley had arrived at a most opportune time. Arab slavers had robbed Livingstone of all his supplies. He was desperate, sick and destitute.

Throughout his life, Henry Morton Stanley experienced brutality, cruelty, starvation, disease, poverty, affliction, treachery, betrayal and ultimately great honour, success and wealth. Of all the great explorers of Africa, David Livingstone and Henry Morton Stanley stand head and shoulders above all others. Stanley and Livingstone were very different men, but both of them made spectacular contributions to the development of Africa.

On 27 October 1869, he received one of the most extraordinary assignments ever entrusted to a newspaper reporter. James Gordon Bennet, Jr., of the New York Herald, commissioned Stanley to go to central Africa and to learn anything and everything that he could about Dr. David Livingstone and to find him. But first, he tasked Stanley to go and cover the Inauguration of the Suez Canal, and then to proceed up the Nile and find out about Sir Baker’s expedition. To travel to Jerusalem, and to Constantinople, to visit the Crimea, the Caucasus, Baghdad and Persepolis, and after that to India. Then to go to Zanzibar and from there to find Dr. David Livingstone.

“Draw a thousand pounds now; and when you have gone through that, draw another thousand, and when that is spent, draw another, and when you finished that draw another thousand, and so on, but find Livingstone.

Stanley declared that he would do everything that a human being could possibly do and beyond that he would trust in God to enable him to do even more. Stanley immediately, that night, set out on his whirlwind tour of the Middle East, covering the opening of the Suez Canal at Port Said, the Holy places in Jerusalem, he walked over the old battlefields of the Crimean War, reported on the Russians’ civilising mission in Baku. Then to the exotic bazaars of Teheran in Persia, to the ruins of Persepolis, to India and then off to Zanzibar in Africa.

…Stanley immediately saw that slaves and ivory were the primary export of Africa being brought out of the interior by unscrupulous Arab traders. The Arabs on Zanzibar regarded Africa as a source of seemingly unlimited numbers of slaves and elephant tusks.

Dr Peter Hammond founder of Henry Morton School of Christian Journalism
The number of whites who were enslaved in North Africa by the Barbary pirates exceeded the number of Africans enslaved in the United States and in the American colonies before that, put together. When slavery is mentioned, too many people automatically think of whites enslaving blacks. That is not even one-tenth of the story of slavery, which existed on every inhabited continent. The very word “slave” derives from the word for some white people who were enslaved on a mass scale—the Slavs—for more centuries than blacks were enslaved in the Western Hemisphere. – Thomas Sowell

Livingstone An Inspiration

The courage and determination of Livingstone has inspired many people and generations. One small example was Mary Slessor, who went to Calabar (present day Nigeria) and ended the practice of murdering twins (believed by animists to be bewitched.) 

Henry Morton Stanley later reported that he was surprised and captivated by the courtesy, dignity, patience and high morals of Dr. David Livingstone. Writing of Livingstone later in life, Stanley noted: “Lowly of spirit, meek in speech, merciful of heart, pure in mind and peaceful in act… during health or sickness… he was, consistently noble, upright, pious and manly, in all the days of my companionship with him.” Livingstone’s patience and perseverance impressed Stanley the most.

Henry Morton Stanley Christian School Of Journalism

Stanley saw Africa as a challenge, Livingstone as his example and inspiration. Stanley dedicated his life to serving Africa by developing Christianity and civilisation throughout its vast and unexplored interior. On 18 April 1874, Henry Morton Stanley was one of the pallbearers for the funeral of Dr. David Livingstone at Westminster Abbey. Stanley was given the foremost position on the right. Shortly after that the Daily Telegraph of London and the New York Herald united to fund an expedition to Central Africa under the leadership of Henry Stanley: “To complete the work left unfinished by the lamentable death of Dr. Livingstone; to solve, if possible, the remaining problems of the geography of Central Africa; and to investigate and report upon the haunts of the slave traders…”

Our Beloved David Livingstone finding the great Victoria Falls in Northern Rhodesia (now basket-case Zambia). The capital was named Livingstone, to honour a tremendous man who overcame all adversities and afflictions placed in his way to fight for the end of slavery in Africa and share his deeply compassionate Christian Faith. If that is “White Privilege” then the world needs more of it and to show a good deal of gratitude for it!

What Would David Livingstone Say To Us Today?

Share, re-blog and print options:

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll Up