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David Livingstone (clip 1)

Life of the famous Victorian explorer

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An account of the life of David Livingstone (1813 – 1873). This Docu-drama depicts the life of the famous Victorian explorer and missionary including a dramatised account of his expedition through Africa where he encounters various African settlers. Shots include African native people dancing, a dramatisation of his missionary work, an exploration team walking beside a wagon through the Kalahari Desert, vultures feeding on dead animals, and shots of slaves, snakes, lions, crocodiles as well as the exploration team hacking through the forest.

Questions & Activities


  • What is a missionary?
  • Who was David Livingstone and what was he famous for?
  • Why is the Kalhari Desert dreadful?
  • Why did people call Africa "the Dark Continent"?
  • What was the slave trade?
  • How is malaria spread?
  • What kinds of wildlife did Livingstone encounter?
  • Why were the tribes savage?
  • What role did the church have in abolishing the slave trade?
  • What beliefs did the natives have before Christianity?


Geography: Find out where Kuruman is. Look at it on Google Earth.

English: Write a story from the perspective of one of the African natives about Livingstone's arrival.

Social History / RME: Compare David Livingstone to Mary Slessor (She Blazed a Trail). Research the differences and similarities in their work. Create a short powerpoint presentation/film or presentation incorporating clips from both films.

Social History / Economics / Geography: Research Glasgow's place in the slave trade. How long did it continue? Find out what the slaves were traded for? What famous Glaswegian were involved? Develop a presentation to your class including appropriate images.

RME / Geography / History / Victorians: Slavery was official abolished in 1833 but still carries on. Research modern examples and present your findings.

Debate: This house believes that Glasgow's wealth was founded on the slave trade. Should we now make amends?

English: Imagine you were David Livingstone setting off on your expedition. Write a diary entry for how you felt about the expedition and what you encountered.

Religious Education: Find out about missionaries today.

History: Research Scot's of the Victorian period - who were they and what did they do.

Health and Wellbeing / Science / Biology: Research malaria and find out how it is spread and how it is prevented.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-000-002-033-C
Resource Rights Holder National Library of Scotland
Project Ref 0192
Date 1956
Genre Drama Documentary
School Subject History, Economic History, Modern Studies, Geography, Health and Wellbeing, Religious and Moral Education, International Studies
Subject Matter Victorians
Who David Middlemas (director), G-B Instructional Ltd (distributor, sponsor), Rev James McNair BD, Chairman of the Livingstone Memorial, Blantyre, Lanarkshire and CM Green MA (supervisors), The J Arthur Rank Organisation Limited (production company)
Where Africa, Kuruman, Kalahari Desert, Port Elizabeth, Zambezi, Linyanti, Blantyre
Event Exploration
Attributes Black and White, Sound
Clip Length 7:17
Film Length 16:00
References Education Scotland - Scotland's History - David Livingstone 
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