By the 1840s Britain had so repented of her involvement in slavery that she was the leading force in worldwide abolition. One of the most beloved anti-slavery campaigners was Scottish missionary, Dr David Livingstone.
IT was at a public meeting, on 1st June, 1840, that with the words ‘Christianity, commerce, civilisation’ Sir Thomas Buxton, an anti-slavery campaigner, awoke medical student David Livingstone to his lifelong calling: to destroy the slave trade by persuading Africa to trade in farm and factory goods rather than people.
That December, now working for the London Missionary Society, Livingstone left for Bechuanaland in Africa.
However, the LMS’s community in Kuruman was too small and unambitious for Livingstone: he preferred to travel through the continent’s vast interior accompanied by a small, lightly-armed team, so as not to appear threatening.
It was typical of his respect for the dignity and worth of ordinary Africans that he learnt their languages, and offered advice on medicine and irrigation.
All the while, however, he was mapping potential ‘highways’ such as the Zambesi, and cataloguing natural resources that might provide a profitable alternative to selling slaves to the Arabs, and the Portuguese in Mozambique.