Monday, 29 April 2013

Livingstone, Malaŵi, History and Gove.

Yesterday morning's Sunday Worship on Radio 4 reminded me that this year is the 200th anniversary of the birth of David Livingstone.

Michael Gove might learn a few techniques from the official Malaŵian primary school history course on Livingstone. viz:

1.  Dr Livigstone was a missionary: Stanley was not.
2.  Livingstone was kind to Africans: Stanley was not.
3.  Stanley used force on Aricans: Livignstone did not..
4.  Livingstone depended on the Bible: Stanley depended on the gun.
5.  Stanley fought for his way: Livingsotne negotiated for his way.
6.  Stanley was a news reporter: Livingstone was a medical man.
7.  Livignstone was loved by Africans:  Stanley was not.
8.  Stanley called Africa a dark continent: Livingstone called it a great continent.
(and , presumably to  give a sense of balance, and reach a nice round number of "facts" to parrot)
9.  Both Livingstone and Stanley were explorers.
10. Both of them were courageous in trying to achieve their aims.


  1. Indeed such is the esteem that Livingstone is held in that the President of Malawi was in Scotland recently and visited Blantyre. There are also a number of links between Scotland and Malawi at government level, including some aid programmes. Indeed many schools work to raise funds for schools there too.

  2. Yes, Livingstone is very highly regarded in Malaŵi. and I'm not trying to suggest that he doesn't deserve to be. I'm just trying to highlight the rather brutal method of slanting history, which seems to be akin to what Gove is trying to introduce here.

    When I was in Malaŵi as a VSO from 1989 to 1991 I travelled to and from work each day along Livingstone Avenue. For variation I could use Victoria Avenue. There was, as far as I'm aware, no Stanley Street.

    It's also interesting to note that the Presbyterian church in Malaŵi, the Church of Central Africa, Presbyterian, or CCAP, though it doesn't have the most adherents, is very influential and punches well above its weight.

    Malaŵ a desperately poor country with extraordinarily cheerful and resilient people. They deserve all the help they can get from our contacts.