Missionary and African explorer Dr. David Livingstone (1813-1873) was born on this day in Blantyre, Scotland. With a passion for faith, hard work, and education, he earned a medical degree then joined the London Missionary Society in 1838. He arrived in Cape Town in 1841.
With travels of nearly one-third of Africa's interior, the courageous explorer became the first European to cross the continent in an amazing trek from west to east coasts (1853-1856).
"I will go anywhere as long as it is forward," he said. Crossing the difficult Kalahari desert, he discovered Lake Ngami in 1849 and the Zambezi River in 1851.
In 1855, he discovered the great Victoria Falls, which the natives called "Smoke with Thunders." With characteristic patriotism, Livingstone christened the landmark for his queen. "I shall open up a path into the interior or perish," he said.
Livingstone documented his experiences with the book Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa (1857). By that time he was a hero in England and the book sold over 70,000 copies.
"God had an only Son, and he was a missionary and a physician," he said.
Livingstone returned to Africa in 1866 to spread the Gospel and find the sources of the Nile and Congo Rivers. Despite illness and great challenges, he reached Lake Tanganyika in 1869 and the northwestern point of Nyangwe in 1871, the furthest west that any European had ever reached.
That same year, reporter Henry M. Stanley found the good doctor and uttered those famous words, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume."
With a remarkable career of over 30 years, Dr. Livingstone helped pave the way for future explorers. A great advocate against the slave trade, his belief in the power of African community advancement inspired the country's quest for nationalism.