David Livingstone Bicentenary

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The 200th anniversary of the birth of famous Scottish explorer, missionary and medic, Dr David Livingstone, has been celebrated at his birthplace.

To commemorate the bicentenary, External Affairs Minister Humza Yousaf rang the old mill bell at the David Livingstone Centre in Blantyre, where Dr Livingstone was born on March 19, 1813 when the site was accommodation for mill workers. The bell rang at 6am and 8pm each day to signal the start and end of a standard working day in the mills.

The Minister also viewed a new exhibition before he and 50 children from local primary schools buried a time capsule which includes material provided by children from Malawi.

Mr Yousaf said:

“Dr David Livingstone was a great Scot who achieved many great things. He was one of our greatest explorers who forged enduring links between Scotland and Malawi, and – as a writer, medic and tireless campaigner against the slave trade – left a long and lasting legacy from those travels.

“He treated all those he met as his equal and worked in partnership with Malawians, which forms the basis of Scotland’s friendship with Malawi to this day. The bicentenary of his birth is the ideal opportunity to shed new light on his extraordinary life, and to build on his legacy.”

The celebrations at Blantyre were part of the David Livingstone 200 programme of events, which is supported by the Scottish Government.

Nat Edwards, David Livingstone 200 Project Leader, said:

“Livingstone was a truly remarkable and inspirational man – and it is even more inspiring to think that he took his inspiration from the countryside, history and people of Blantyre. It is absolutely fitting that the centre of his 200th birthday celebrations is right here in Blantyre, where this wonderful, continent-crossing story began.

“We want David Livingstone 200 to be a fitting celebration for a great man with an equally fitting legacy. We want to strengthen relationships between Scotland and Africa; to renew interest in David Livingstone among all our nations and to make sure that this amazing museum can be sustained to inspire future generations for years to come.”

Mr Yousaf was also due to attend a wreath-laying ceremony at Westminster Abbey, where David Livingstone’s body was buried in 1874.  

The Scottish Government is providing more than £300,000 support for the celebrations marking the bicentenary of Dr David Livingstone’s birth.

David Livingstone 200 is a partnership between numerous public, voluntary and academic bodies and individuals to mark the bicentenary of the birth of Dr David Livingstone. It is supported by funding from the National Trust for Scotland, Scottish Government and Scotland Malawi Partnership.

‘The Nyangwe Diary: Shining New Light on Livingstone’ exhibition at the newly museum-accredited David Livingstone Centre illustrates how cutting edge technology revealed a previously inaccessible Livingstone diary.