Bypassed or neglected until the 19th century by Europeans (except for the slave trade), the African continent arouses the interest of Western colonial powers and the curiosity of intrepid explorers and cartographers, such as the famous Doctor Livingstone, who hoped to discover the sources of the Nile.
Driven by faith
Born March 19, 1813 in Blantyre, near Glasgow, David Livingstone, one of Africa's most famous explorers, came from a poor family in Scotland. From the age of 10, he worked in a cotton factory, but spent his free time attending evening classes. Intelligent and diligent, he reads a number of travelogues, which stimulate his imagination. A man of great faith, he discovered a vocation as an evangelist at the age of 19 and managed to obtain a scholarship to study theology and medicine at the University of Glasgow. In 1838, he joined the Missionary Society of London, which sent him three years later to Africa. After a stay in Cape Town, he went to the protectorate of Bechua- naland (now Botswana).
In search of the sources of the Nile
From 1849, David Livingstone relentlessly explored the African continent. He crosses the Kalahari Desert and reaches Lake Ngami, a crossing he will repeat on several occasions. In 1853, he ascended the Zambezi River, then headed for the Atlantic coast, which he reached in Luanda (Angola). He then turns around and follows the river to its delta on the Indian Ocean, thus probably becoming the first European to cross the African continent from east to west. It was during this expedition, in the fall of 1855, that he discovered gigantic waterfalls, which the natives called "the smoke that rumbles", which he named Victoria in honor of the Queen of England.
Having gone in search of the source of the Nile in 1866, he disappeared for five years, until the journalist Henry Morton Stanley found him in 1871, on the shore of Lake Tanganyika, and pronounced his famous phrase: “Dr Livingstone, I presume? ” Livingstone soon set off again, still in search of the source of the Nile, but died of dysentery in May 1873. His balmy body was repatriated to England, where he was buried with great pomp in Westminster Abbey.
- The Africa of explorers: at the sources of the Nile, by Anne Hugon. Gallimard, 1991.
- Finding Livingstone, Henry Stanley. Decoopman, 2015.