Dr Livingstone, I presume?

Livingstone. Courtesy of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow

Livingstone. Courtesy of the RCPSG

Synonymous with Malawi (where the Baton has arrived today, 24.01.2014) is David Livingstone, the Scottish medical missionary, explorer, writer, and ant-slavery campaigner who first travelled there in 1859.

Among Livingstone’s numerous legacies is the fact that he became the first European to cross the African continent on one trip during 1853 to 1856.

Copy of sketch map showing David Livingstone's route (The Hunterian GLAHM C.1929.1)

Copy of sketch map showing David Livingstone’s route (The Hunterian GLAHM C.1929.1)

The map on the left shows the route followed by Livingstone. If there were a Commonwealth medal for walking, Livingstone would surely have won gold –  it is estimated that he travelled over 46,000km, mostly on foot during the 30 years of his life in Africa.

Besides his explorations, Livingston’s primary work also reflects the important links that continue to be maintained with African countries as Malawi. According to the Historical Dictionary of Malawi,   “Missionaries and mission hospitals were the first point of contact between Western medicine and Malawian societies.  Besides a churchyard and a school, almost every mission station had a health clinic. […] The first Malawian medical personnel were trained at mission hospitals and formed the core of the medical support staff of the government health system”. This medical missionary history, of which Livingstone stands centre stage, also pervades the University’s links with Malawi in particular. Among the approximately 29 Malawi-born students to attend the University from 1880 to 1965, around 20 were the sons and daughters of missionaries and/or medics. Some of these students, such as Hamilton Currie, MBChB 1943, themselves returned to Africa as missionaries.

Livingstone Store, Malawi (UGC193/12/3)

Livingstone Store, Malawi (UGC193/12/3)

Another of the Livingstone legacies was the establishment of direct trade with Africa. The African Lakes Corporation PLC (UGC193) was established in Glasgow in 1878 as The Livingstonia Central Africa Company, and  its trade centred on Nyasaland (modern day Malawi).  It was established by a number of philanthropic gentlemen who had been impressed by Livingstone’s plea for the establishment of regular trade routes and the introduction of lawful commerce whereby the slave trade, dominated by Arab slavers, might be exterminated and security obtained for the life and property of the native inhabitants of Central Africa.

Much more information on the University’s current active links with Malawi in a variety of sectors from education to government and industry is widely available using the keyword search on the main website.


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Filed under Africa, Commonwealth of Nations

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