Who Was David Livingstone?

Image of the Week: A 1879 monument pays homage to an abolitionist with an extraordinary legacy.

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Even so, the uncompromising missionary seems to have soon regarded Sechele as a backslider. Disappointed by the leader's continuing practice of polygamy, Livingstone struck out in search of Lake Ngama far to the north. Undaunted, Sechele continued to enthusiastically develop his own brand of Christianity, pragmatically adapting it to existing cultural norms. At his death in 1892, he ruled 30,000 people, most of whom had adopted the new religion.

Today Livingstone is still remembered sympathetically by many black Africans in Botswana and Zambia for his role as both missionary and explorer. Correspondingly, Sechele can rightly be regarded not just as a worthy counterpart but also as the fulfillment of Livingstone's hope for the spiritual health of Africa. His response to his friend's advice regarding the survival of his state against the threat of the slave-trading Boers on his frontiers was just as astute. Today many Botswanans consider him to be the father of their country.

The Image of the Black in Western Art Archive resides at Harvard University's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. The director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute is Henry Louis Gates Jr., who is also The Root's editor-in-chief. The archive and Harvard University Press collaborated to create The Image of the Black in Western Art book series, eight volumes of which were edited by Gates and David Bindman and published by Harvard University Press. Text for each Image of the Week is written by Sheldon Cheek.