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David Livingstone

David Livingstone was a missionary, a person who preached and spread Christianity in in Africa Continent.  As a missionary he established mission stations, where locals were often offered food as well as medical treatment and the Bibles.  Several schools were attached to his mission centers which were used to expand knowledge and teach British culture all over the world (Unlocking the Archives (b), n. d.). This paper examines the live of David Livingstone and the reasons for becoming the most influential missionary in Africa in the colonies that were established by British Empire.

The Personal Life of David Livingstone

David Livingstone was a born on 19 March 1813 at Blantyre, Lankaekshire, Scotland. He grew up to the age of ten years where he began working for a cotton mill which involved crawling around under the spinning frames and would get so tired. After work he would spend some times learning how to read and write at the company school (Unlocking the Archives (b), n. d.). He later went to the University and became a missionary who was so influential in Africa. David was born in poverty and did not enjoy an expensive lifestyle from his parents. He was a constant happiness to his family choosing to engage them in fireside. This habit was kept for a long time up to the time he joined the University and could come back and share fun with his family telling them of the stories of the week. He is known to have lived a calm and self-reliant life since his childhood as demonstrated when he arrived home late one evening and his father had barred the door. Without creating any disturbance he ate bread that he had and made himself comfortable to spend the night at the doorstep. This rule applied a lot in much later life when he could make the best of unpleasant situations (Blaikie, 2009).

The fact that his parents were poor made him to begin working at the age of ten years so as to help his family as well as be able to earn education. He worked very hard in difficult conditions and was promoted to the position of spinner in the cotton mill to the delight of his mother. The passion of reading developed at the very early stages of his life courtesy of his father’s stimulation. His father read a lot of Scottish theology and enterprising making his family encouraged to follow the example. The other thing about David that developed at his early life was his desire to travel and explore the countryside. He could be accompanied by his brothers in search of botanical, geological and zoological specimens. If was in his twentieth year that he got a spiritual change in his life that changed his entire way of thinking and life. He began to take his Christian life seriously and applied a lot of teachings to his life (Blaikie, 2009).

It was at Andersonian University that his desire for missionary work developed in the year 1836. This desire was what propelled him to be a very influential missionary in Africa. The earlier desire was to be a missionary to China Medical missions while he was a student at Glasgow. After understanding mission work he applied to London Missionary Society and he was accepted provisionally and goes to London. He struggled while in London until he got approval from his teachers as well as students and after the training he was not sent to China but rather Africa where he pioneered his influential mission work (Blaikie, 2009).

The Influence of David Livingstone’s Mission to Africa

The sojourner David Livingstone began his first journey to Africa in December 1841 after his ordination. He had been sent by the London Missionary Society to come and pioneer the mission work in Africa. The greatest of his influence came because he opened up the African continent and converted millions into Christianity and was among those missionaries whose work was renowned in Africa. The spread Christianity in Africa was a very big challenge that faced David Livingstone when he was sent. However, he was able to meet the difficulties and overcame them emerging to be the most influential missionary in Africa. His success is recognized even beyond the ability to overthrow a military dominance in Europe (Horne, 2008).

The concept that David Livingstone engaged in his missions differed with the methods used by his colleagues from London Mission Society which increased his influence on the local Africans. His approach was to set up mission centers which were not only for evangelism purposes but could offer services to the general human well being. This means that he could be able to attract locals who were not interested in Christianity to benefit from other knowledge provisions which could make them soften their rebellion as time of engagement continues. He categorized his mission into commerce, Christianity and civilization (Nkomazana, 1998).

When David Livingstone arrived in Africa he noticed how inhumane activities were being conducted on Africans by his fellow Europeans especially in central Africa. He noticed that the problem could only be alleviated if the locals were empowered socially, economically, politically and spiritually. That made him to resolve that his missions would include more than evangelism and it was unique from other missionaries thus making it to be known and become more influential in the lives of the locals. His believe was that the human suffering could be eliminated through the introduction of valid and rightful businesses as well as good governance through Christian led principles (Nkomazana, 1998).

The Europeans were influenced David Livingstone who encouraged them to come to Africa as missionaries with the intention of spreading commerce, Christianity as well as socialization. He could use opportunities he got while addressing audiences in several occasions and encourage them to assist Africa in the process of improving the status of locals and emphasizing to them that no one else could continue what he had pioneered (Nkomazana, 1998). He was so influential that he was respected by a lot of colleges and universities and whenever given the chance to address audience, he could not fail to remember the land of Africa.

During his first arrival at Cape in South Africa he was put up by other missionaries and immediately that the missionaries were divided on whether to be loyal to the state colonists or local Africans. There were those missionaries who were compromised by the colonists but he decided to support the course and fight for the Africans. This was a bold decision which did not go well with all his colleagues but he stuck to his course which made him so influential. After sometime he proceeded to his second station at Kuruman where he performed a lot of civilization work that influenced the lives of the locals (Nkomazana, 1998).

When he met and lived among the people of Kuruman he noticed that there was drought which affected their crops and cause lack of food which affected his mission work. Then he immediately took note and introduced the idea of creating dams to retain water for irrigation. This idea was very appealing to the residents and laughed at the fact that he could make rain not literally but actually leading the waters of their rivers to the dams and used in irrigation. Moreover, he participated in other several local projects which influenced directly the lives of the locals and made them to realize the importance of his mission work. The projects included building houses, cobbling shoes, smiting iron, gun and wagon mending, carpentry as well as vegetable and fruit gardening (Nkomazana, 1998).

In addition, he was influential through his mission work of establishing schools and teaching people the importance of reading and writing. He could seek support from donors in his home country to establish schools and contribute towards the welfare of Africans. The fact that he was able to offer education for Africans through schools could influence their understanding of Christianity, commerce and socialization making his work easier. This was well received by Africans who were very receptive to his ideas and the elders and leaders such as chiefs were influenced and supported the work of Livingstone (Nkomazana, 1998).

The work of Livingstone did not please the Boers who were mistreating Africans through cheap labor and mistreating. They prevented him from spreading Christianity in Africa and did not allow him enough freedom while at South Africa. This made him to be a strong critic of the Boers throughout his mission. However, they did not allow him to expand his missions that led him to move to North Africa where their influence was limited and would have access to a larger population (Nkomazana, 1998). The determination of Livingstone to proceed despite the challenges truly made him an influential missionary who could stop at nothing to see the improvement of Africa civilization, commerce and Christianity.

The expeditions that he conducted in Africa were other sources of influence to the entire world. He discovered natural sceneries and sites in his mission and wrote books about them which could teach the whole world about African heritage and sources of natural features such as rivers. He went on an expedition to Zambesi where he saw and wrote of several features including wild animals, Shupanga, hippopotamus, hunters, crocodile (Livingstone, 2004). He could then write down his stories and discoveries for which some of them hitherto are still being read and researched. The documentaries that he wrote have since influenced several people who have researched on Livingstone and sought to understand his works and unique lifestyles thus making him an influential missionary that ever came to Africa.

It is important to note that despite the challenges that he faced in his missionary works he maintained the spirit of exploration and passion for spreading Christianity to areas not yet reached in Africa. His stamina, perseverance and determination developed a legacy not achieved by other missionaries whose interests ware their monetary gains only. The unique characteristic of Livingstone was that he was not interested in monetary gain but rather the well being of the society especially Africans. He had undying need to spread the gospel through his adventures and tireless passion which continues to inspire men and women who continue with the mission work to today (Benge & Benge, 1999).

David Livingstone went back to Britain in 1858 and was feted. However, he did not stay but rather choose to come back to Africa with the obsession of getting the source of river Nile. He was so influential that the British government could finance his expeditions to Africa when he was not being supported by the Missionary society. Despite the success of his missions, he also encountered misfortunes during his journey and deaths occurred where his excursions were responsible (Pettitt, 2007). However, this did not affect his influence in changing the African history. The reason why his areas of visit became British empires is that they could access a lot of written information concerning the countries from the work of Livingstone.


The study of the work of David Livingstone is a huge task because he did a lot of activities in Africa that have been documented in several books. This brings us to a conclusion that he was a very influential missionary in Africa whose interest was to the welfare of locals to ensure that they are self independent and civilized. His advocacy was that Africa be independent in its food production as well as trade to boost their economic and moral welfare. Therefore it is a fact that the extent of success of Christianity, commerce and civilization in current Africa was influenced by the work of David Livingstone in historical times.

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