‘Wayward Vagabond’ opens sly secrets of early missionaries

David Livingstone and Ludwig Krapf are famed for bringing Christianity to Africa. But according to author M G N Kahende of David Livingstone: The Wayward Vagabond, Livingstone, the Scottish, did not come to bring Christianity but to spy on Africa’s soil to open way for entry of the English man to colonise the so-called Dark Continent.

The book launched recently in Nairobi, mentions Robert Moffat, a veteran missionary of Bechuanaland in southern Africa, who Livingstone met and gave him his daughter Mary to marry and later misused him with his friend Cecil Rodhes in his mineral trading businesses.

Kahende says this was the aim of most of the 19th century explorers and missionaries, who are said to also have come to civilise “backward” Africans. He calls Livingstone the ‘architect of English colonialism in Africa’, although he wanted to use colonisation as his key plot for the independence of Scotland, which he called divine mission.

The mission was to scatter the English to all corners of the globe and when embroiled in cut-throat struggles and wars with natives of distant lands, Scotland would declare its independence.

The book retraces Livingstone’s early deprived life in Blantyre, Scotland, and his scholarly sojourn in London, including his dramatic journey to Africa in Monomotapa kingdom of King Simba, till his death. The satirical tone in the novel aptly captures the delusional aspect of Livingstone’s “God-ordained” mission to the world. During his second visit to Africa, he is found a forlorn man, doubting his sanity and whether he had been wrong all along. The book tracks Livingstone’s quarrel with his brother Charles, whom he almost shot; and how he watched his wife Mary mauled by lions while he ran and climbed a tree nearby, and wondered if this was madness, asking what kind of God would lead him to self-destruction.

While in his first visit to Africa with Rhodes after getting funding by the Royal Geographical Society, they are received well by King Simba and stay on exploring his kingdom.

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They agreed that commerce, Christianity and civilisation was what was needed, even as they tried to convert King Simba to Christianity but in vain.

When he went back to London, Livingstone gave a talk on how rich Africa was, with untapped fortunes that needed exploitation. It is this information the Portuguese King got and hurriedly organised an attack to the kingdom using Cardinal Domingos; five sick harlots who came dressed as nuns. The ‘nuns’ slept with many men including the soldiers and infected them with sexually transmitted diseases.

Stanley is send by RGS to search for him. He finds him sickly at Ujiji and tells him of his “divine mission” and how he found him. Henry Morton Stanley, a journalist with New York Tribune joined Livingstone in search for River Nile but failed and returned to London to write a book about his experiences.

Livingstone later died in prayer. His ghost was tortured by ghosts of Taiwo and Simba. 

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David LivingstoneChristianityThe Wayward VagabondArts and Culture