Livingstone's African Journal 1853-1856 - Vol. 1

Livingstone's African Journal 1853-1856 - Vol. 1

Livingstone's African Journal 1853-1856 - Vol. 1

Livingstone's African Journal 1853-1856 - Vol. 1

Excerpt

David Livingstone's journey across south-central Africa in 1853-6 has been described by an eminent authority as producing 'the greatest single contribution to African geography which has ever been made'. Leaving Cape Town in June 1852, and travelling via Kuruman and the Kalahari Desert, he reached Linyanti on the Chobe River, for the second time, in May 1853, two months after his fortieth birthday, He first explored the course of the upper Zambesi as far as the Kabompo confluence. In November he set out again from Linyanti, for Luanda on the west coast, where he arrived on 31 May 1854. On 11 September 1855 he was back in Linyanti, having left Luanda almost exactly a year before (20 September 1854). In November he began the third and longest stage of his journey, to the east coast, and on 20 May 1856, 'which wanted only a few days of being four years since I started from Cape Town', he at last reached the port of Quelimane. From there he sailed home in July, via Mauritius, Ceylon, and the Red Sea, and early in December he landed in England, which he had not seen since leaving sixteen years before (December 1840) to work for the London Missionary Society in Bechuanaland.

Long before its completion his journey was already being hailed as epoch-making. When news reached England of his arrival at Cassange, about 325 miles east of Luanda, The Times (8 August 1854) described his achievement as 'one of the greatest geographical explorations of the age'. The University of Glasgow in December 1854 conferred upon him, in absentia, the honorary degree of LL.D., and at the ceremony his sponsor (Dr Andrew Buchanan) said, 'The University would receive as great an honour as she conferred, when she bestowed this mark of her approbation on a man whose name would be remembered as long as the great lake and the noble rivers he has discovered, . . . and who had, perhaps, made the most important advance ever yet made towards the civilisation and the Christianisation of Africa'. In May 1855, similarly, the Royal Geographical Society awarded him its highest distinction, the Patron's Gold Medal, 'for his Explorations in Africa, between Lake . . .

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