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David Livingstone (clip 1)

Life of the famous Victorian explorer

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Content advisory: Depiction of enslaved people

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.

Shots include indigenous African people dancing, a dramatisation of Livingstone's missionary work; an exploration team walking beside a wagon through the Kalahari Desert; vultures feeding on dead animals; a reenactment of slave driving; snakes, lions, crocodiles; the exploration team hacking through the forest.

Questions & Activities


  • Why did people in the past call Africa "the Dark Continent"?
  • What was the transatlantic slave trade and when was it abolished?
  • What language is used in this clip (and clip 2) to describe the indigenous people?
  • How is malaria spread?
  • What kinds of wildlife did Livingstone encounter?


Find out where Kuruman is and what the landscape is like.

Write a story from the perspective of one of the indigenous people about Livingstone's arrival.

Research the beliefs of indigenous South African tribes.

Research Scotland's role in the slave trade. Develop a presentation.

Scotland profited from slavery. How should we make amends?

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.

Research famous Scots and Africans of the Victorian period - who were they and what did they do?

Updated March 2020