Looking for a Doctor

National Poetry Month Challenge #11 is to “Channel your inner Doctor (Seuss, Who, Frankenstein, Doolittle, Zhivago, McCoy… your choice)”.

He had the wanderlust
Trod through African dust
Muddy swamp he tromped
East to West he stomped
To convert with missionary zeal
Baptizing for Christ to seal
All the dark tribes in Zambia
All the while sick with malaria
Rivers Congo, Orange and Zambezi
He mapped which wasn’t easy
Found the smoke that thunders
One of nature’s seven wonders
Thought to stem the slave trade
If he could in the Nile’s source wade
He traveled far and wide
In Chief Chitambo’s village died
He from London to Botswana roam
Servants Chuma and Suzi carried home
There remembered, a hero entomb
“Dr. Livingstone, I presume”

The life of Dr. David Livingstone is fascinating. He was a rags to riches man who worked in a mill from the age of 10 (14 hour days) and still found time to go to school. His thirst for knowledge drove him to enter medical school and also to become a missionary. He deplored the African slave trade. He believed that if he could find the source of the Nile River he could stop the enslavement of African peoples. He was not so much a hero as a tragic figure. He made bad decisions. He was an inept leader. He had 6 children (3 died) who didn’t know him because he was off exploring Africa. His wife died of malaria shortly after following him to Africa. He was unfunded and ended up relying on Arab slave traders to save him. Eventually he died in a remote village in the Kingdom of Kazembe (which is in the modern Northern Province of Zambia) of malaria and internal hemorrhage due to dysentery. But to his country of Britain he epitomized the bravery of the intrepid explorer blazing new trails across uncharted territories, the strength of character to speak out against a morally bankrupt practice of slavery, and the fearlessness of the Christian Missionary taking the Gospel to those he considered heathens and pagans in Africa.

I hope this was educational and maybe a little interesting…

23 thoughts on “Looking for a Doctor

  1. A poem and history lesson all in one! I didn’t know where the phrase “Dr. Livingston, I presume” came from, so that was a great way to end the piece, on a familiar note. You have to admire the guy for following his heart, standing up for something, being a doer instead of just complaining about the sad state of affairs in Africa. Nice rhymes too; you have channeled Dr Seuss as well. 🙂 My latest poetry challenge poem is posted on my site: https://justjoan42.wordpress.com/2019/04/24/whats-that-noise/


    1. Thanks! I’m tickled you liked this one about the famous/infamous Dr. Livingston! He had good intentions but he was a loner and found it difficult to “play well with others”. That of course made his life and travels harder than they should have been…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so far behind! Too busy clearing out the storage unit. I’ve been thinking about combining the list form with the dog prompt, but haven’t sat down to work it out yet.

    I need to read up on Dr. Livingstone. I’m curious how Stanley found him.


    1. I could answer the question re: Stanley but I’ll just let you look it up… I bet that when the dog list poem percolates to the top it will be awesome! See you tomorrow!


    1. Hmm. I think there is a possibility but I’m inclined to think he was just an A-dot. He made enemies as easily as friends and made enemies of friends. I imagine his marriage worked because he was absent most of the time!


  3. lovely poem that took me through a life story, and loved your sharing of his life and work, sad as it was i suppose he was zealous for what he did. we discussed 2 books this evening at our monthly book club, Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad) and Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe), seeing two different sides of a story, about mission work, the impact of colonialism and what is considered savagery. we cannot criticise that we don’t understand or have little knowledge of.


    1. Absolutely. The European Christian point of view was not very inclusive and the idea of diversity was a non-starter. Of course that lack of acceptance is what lead to the large influx of British to the American colonies – people seeking religious freedom. But at the core even the new arrivals were ethnocentric and inflexible in accepting the indigenous people and their customs and beliefs… I’m glad you enjoyed this post!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. i did really enjoy it! and this added explanation. it is true humans continue to seek answers and in that quest damage more than they build up.


    1. Some thought him wonderful and others not so much. Either way his motives were good even if he had a flawed plan. I’m pleased you enjoyed this one~


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