On Saturday 3rd May 1930, as Summer commenced, Blantyre residents acted out various scenes of Explorer David Livingstone’s life in the grounds of the newly opened Scottish Memorial to David Livingstone, Blantyre.
The eight tableaux featured in the museum also acted as topics for each scene, with some quality acting on display for visitors. The costumes were well thought out too, as this photo of Livingstone and “Native Chiefs” demonstrates, though I can’t help but feel the African Chiefs have a feeling of 1920’s fashion about them too! Great effort was made by all to get into character (and what was then perceived as innocent attention to detail, is today non politically correct in a new, modern society). The grounds were the venue for each scene and visitors coming to the museum congregated around each scene with interest.
We don’t shy away from Blantyre history. These were bygone times and events like these did happen. What is however now reassuring is that the renovated David Livingstone Birthplace has put equality and the legacy of Livingstone at the forefront in more meaningful ways. Thankfully, now learning stories and creative exhibitions exploring the painful realities of slavery, colonialism and 19th century European attitudes towards African people are done so in a much more respectful manner.