Image of Toto Tales, I knew a man called Livingstone.

Exploring Africa with Dr David Livingstone

Dr David Livingstone spent 30 years in Africa spreading the word of Christianity, denouncing slavery, introducing new forms of health care and education, improving trade links and discovering previously unknown natural wonders. Livingstone was one of the first westerners to journey across Africa and was the first recorded European to discover Mosi oa Tunya (Victoria Falls). He survived malaria, dysentery and other common diseases, and managed to concoct a malaria cure in his spare time! His story is quite simply astounding.

This national hero is celebrated through a variety of events at Scottish International Storytelling Festival, including talks, storytelling shows, walking tours and exhibitions at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, National Library of Scotland and the Royal Botanic Garden.

Highlights include looking at original slides from Dr Livingstone’s magic lantern in, Dr Livingstone’s Lantern Lecture and The Light of the World. You can go on a storytelling walk through the Royal Botanic Garden hearing astonishing tales of Livingstone and Kirk’s Zambezi expedition in, Poisoned Arrows.  See Dr Livingstone through the eyes of his African friends in the family event and previous Edinburgh Fringe hit, I Knew a Man Called Livingstone. The exhibition at the National Library of Scotland has a treasure trove of original documents, sketches, maps and images (including the famous lion attack) documenting Livingstone’s African adventure. And, taking inspiration from southern African culture and history, you can also learn how to create learning resources from stories, images and artefacts in the workshop, African Journeys.

Below are all the details of our Livingstone Series and how to buy tickets. We hope to see you on our travels into Africa!



Livingstone & the Ordeal of the Congo (Sold Out)

Image of Dr David LivingstoneNational Library of Scotland
Monday 21st October, 6pm
Free (ticketed)
Talks & Lectures

Sold Out

Ever since David Livingstone revealed the full horror of slavery in the Congo in the 19th century, it has remained a byword for human misery, appalling heat and tropical disease. Even so, when circumstances forced him to follow in the footsteps of H. M. Stanley and the great Scottish explorer, hardened travel writer Patrick Richardson was completely unprepared for what was to come.


Image of Toto Tales.

I Knew a Man Called Livingstone

National Library of Scotland
Friday 25th October, 2.30pm
£8 (£6)
Live Storytelling, Family Event

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A thoroughly entertaining hour, which brings a subtly different vision of Livingstone to life – and his times into a new focus.” 
Thom Dibdin, All Edinburgh Theatre

This story of Scotland’s great explorer is from the perspective of his African friends, questioning what made Livingstone so different from other missionaries of his time. Meet characters such as the wonderful princess Manenko who stood up to Livingstone, Chief Sechele, his only convert, the Arab traders to whom Livingstone was often indebted, and Susi and Chum, his loyal friends who carried his body from the village of Ilala to the coast where it was sent to England.


Storytellers’ Journeys: Mr Livingstone’s Lantern Lecture

Image for Lantern Lecture.Scottish Storytelling Centre
Friday 25th October, 5pm
£7.50 (£5)
Live Storytelling

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This event showcases how, as a Christian missionary, David Livingstone used a magic lantern in Africa as a way to tell Bible stories. He explained to the natives that there was no magic involved, only simple technology. Storyteller, writer and singer Ewan McVicar will take you on a storytelling lantern experience, presenting new insights to Livingstone’s Scottish connections and influences.


Image for Poisoned Arrows. Credit Solen Colett

Poisoned Arrows

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (The Glasshouses)
Saturday 26th & Sunday 27th October, All Day
Free with the cost of Glasshouse admission
Walking Tour, Live Storytelling

No booking required.

This is an interactive theatre trip around Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden discovering the lesser known story of Livingtone’s companion, Dr John Kirk. Kirk was a keen botanist and naturalist, and a valued member of David Livingstone’s Zambesi expedition of 1858-1863. With his keen eye for photography, he was given the role of the unofficial expedition photographer. Join this mission to find Kirk in the Botanic Garden and meet Africans along the way sharing stories of useful plants, wild drugs, food and magic! There is also a free (ticketed) preview of this event at the National Library of Scotland on Thursday 24 October at 2.30pm.


Image for Light of the World.

The Light of the World

National Library of Scotland
Sunday 27th October, 2.30pm
Free (ticketed)
Live Storytelling

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Storyteller Ewan McVicar and singer Christine Kydd have come together to create a show about David Livingstone and his friend, James Young, who invented the paraffin used to create the bright ‘limelight’ which made it possible to project the magic lantern scenes to large audiences.

Poor students together, one became famous, the other rich. Their lives, plans and hopes were intertwined even after Livingstone’s death. Christine sings Scots and slave songs, while Ewan tells the remarkable story, with the help of Mr Livingstone’s original lantern slides.



Image for African JourneysAfrican Journeys

Scottish Storytelling Centre
Monday 21st October, 12.45pm
£15 (£12)
Training & Development

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In this workshop you’ll experience the rich and colourful southern African culture and learn how to incorporate this into your own teaching to facilitate learning in a number of different areas.

During the workshop you can handle African artefacts, such as Congo masks, and play with African instruments and handicrafts. Kelone Khudu-Petersen will tell a Kalahari fable and Ewan will sing Swahili songs and perform a new song about slavery, accompanied by lots of different mbiras, drums and shakers.

You’ll learn about the history of different African countries and its people, including native Africans, European explorers, invaders and settlers. You’ll study southern African music, dance and visual art, and explore how storytelling is woven through these artforms.



Image for Livingstone Exhibition.Picturing Africa: Illustrating Livingstone’s Travels

National Library of Scotland
Until 3rd November

More Info

David Livingstone’s African explorations made him world famous. His own notes, sketches and maps, along with the photographs of John Kirk and the drawings and paintings of Thomas Baines, were the basis for remarkable images of Africa, made popular through best-selling books, illustrated newspapers and magic lantern shows.

These illustrations delighted and fascinated their audiences with terrifying and heroic scenes like the lion attack on Livingstone, of natural wonders like the great Victoria Falls, and the horror of the slave trade.

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