The Missionary and the Rainmaker

David Livingstone, the Bakwena, and the Nature of Medicine

in Social Sciences and Missions
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The dialogue between the missionary and the rainmaker found in various forms in David Livingstone’s writings needs to be interpreted against the background of Livingstone’s relationship with the Bakwena during the late 1840s, a time of severe drought and one in which chief Sechele’s repudiation of his rainmaking functions after his baptism threatened the displeasure of the ancestors. Livingstone’s recording of the dialogue reveals his indebtedness to the moral philosophy of the Scottish thinker, Thomas Dick, but also suggests that Livingstone remained fascinated by the very African cosmology that his Christian faith and Scottish scientism led him to repudiate.

The Missionary and the Rainmaker

David Livingstone, the Bakwena, and the Nature of Medicine

in Social Sciences and Missions

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References

  • 5

    Ibid pp. ix xxii; G.W. Clendennen and I.C. Cunningham (comps.) David Livingstone. A Catalogue of Documents Edinburgh: National Library of Scotland for the David Livingstone Documentation Project 1979 p. 272.

  • 6

    Schapera (ed.)Livingstone’s Private Journals p. 239; G.W. Clendennen and I.C. Cunningham (comps.) David Livingstone: A Catalogue of Documents p. 278. There is a photocopy of the Blantyre notebook in NLS [National Library of Scotland Edinburgh] MS 10711 fols. 85–88. In this source the dialogue is followed by an undated manuscript version of Livingstone’s oft-quoted sermon on ‘God had an only son and he was sent to earth as a missionary physician’. Livingstone used a similar phrase (about God’s only son) in a letter to his sister dated 5 February 1850 but the sermon may be somewhat later. Clendennen and Cunningham thus estimate the date of the record of the dialogue as 1852 perhaps following the editorial annotation at the opening of the notebook which estimates the period of the notebook entries as 1850–1852.

  • 8

    Schapera (ed.)Livingstone’s Private Journals p. 239.

  • 10

    LivingstoneMissionary Travels and Researches p. 25.

  • 12

    Jean and John ComaroffOf Revelation and Revolution pp. 157–158 207–208.

  • 18

    Schapera (ed.)Livingstone’s Private Journals p. 239.

  • 19

    LivingstoneMissionary Travels and Researches p. 25.

  • 21

    SchaperaRainmaking Rites of Tswana Tribes pp. 134 138–139; Janet Wagner Parsons The Livingstones at Kolobeng 1847–1852 Gaborone: The Botswana Society and Pula Press 1997 pp. 78 80 84.

  • 23

    Grove“Scottish Missionaries” p. 164.

  • 24

    Schapera (ed.)Livingstone’s Private Journals p. 301; cf. Livingstone Missionary Travels p. 20;

  • 25

    Schapera (ed.)Livingstone’s Private Journals p. 300.

  • 26

    Ibid. p. 243; MS draft of Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa Part I fol. 43 John Murray archives NLSMS 42428; Livingstone Missionary Travels and Researches p. 19.

  • 27

    Schapera (ed.)Livingstone’s Private Journals p. 300.

  • 28

    Schapera (ed.)Livingstone’s Missionary Correspondence p. 118; Schapera (ed.) Livingstone’s Private Journals p. 300.

  • 31

    Livingstone to Arthur Tidman 1 November 1848in Schapera (ed.) Livingstone’s Missionary Correspondence p. 120.

  • 33

    Livingstone to Arthur Tidman 1 November 1848in I. Schapera (ed.) Livingstone’s Missionary Correspondence p. 121.

  • 34

    D. LivingstoneMissionary Travels and Researches p. 23.

  • 36

    Schapera (ed.)Livingstone’s Private Journals pp. xvi–xvii.

  • 37

    Jean and John ComaroffOf Revelation and Revolution pp. 210–211.

  • 39

    I. Schapera (ed.)Livingstone’s Private Journals pp. 240–241.

  • 40

    Ibid pp. 241–243.

  • 41

    Livingstone to Arthur Tidman 1 November 1848in I. Schapera (ed.) Livingstone’s Missionary Correspondence p. 121.

  • 45

    On Dick see Hector Macpherson“Thomas Dick: ‘The Christian Philosopher’”Records of the Scottish Church History Society Vol. 11 1955 pp. 41–62; William J. Astore Observing God. Thomas Dick Evangelicalism and Popular Science in Victorian Britain and America Aldershot: Ashgate 2001.

  • 46

    Livingstone to Thomas Dick 7 July 1843NLSMS 20314 ff. 22–23 cited in Astore Observing God p. 152.

  • 49

    Ibid p. 112.

  • 50

    Ibid pp. 105–106 113–117; idemThe Philosophy of Religion. Or an Illustration of the Moral Laws of the Universe Glasgow: Chalmers and Collins 1826 p. 204.

  • 51

    Schapera (ed.)Livingstone’s Private Journals p. 301; Livingstone Missionary Travels and Researches p. 23.

  • 53

    DickPhilosophy of Religion pp. 132–146 quotation at p. 146.

  • 54

    Comaroff and ComaroffOf Revelation and Revolution pp. 206–207.

  • 58

    Comaroff and ComaroffOf Revelation and Revolution p. 208.

  • 59

    ParsonsThe Livingstones at Kolobeng p. 44.

  • 60

    LivingstoneMissionary Travels and Researches pp. 20–22; Schapera (ed.) Livingstone’s Missionary Correspondence p. 112.

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