branding gone bad – i. [ guest blog: mark sayers ]


Henry Stanley (1841-1904) finding David Livingstone (1813-1873) in Africa on 3 November 1871

Mark Sayers is our Guest Blogger for this three-part series on Henry Morton Stanley. Mark is a good friend, and is an author and speaker who specializes in interpreting popular culture from a Christan viewpoint. Mark has authored several books including: The Trouble With Paris ( Nelson 2008), The Vertical Self (Nelson 2010), The Road Trip that Changed the World, (Moody 2012) and Facing Leviathan: Moody 2014. – Find out more about Mark (


We remember his famous line, “Dr. Livingston, I presume.” But Mark Sayers, in his book The Vertical Self, tells us there is much more that must be remembered regarding the life of HENRY MORTON STANLEY.

ALL THIS WEEK, read Mark’s THREE Guest blog posts.

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The world followed with fascination the exploits of Scottish Missionary and Doctor, David Livingstone.

Livingstone had left behind his home in Britain to evangelize and explore the center of Africa.  Exploring Africa was nothing new for Europeans who had been engaged in the pursuit for centuries, but something about Livingstone personality and task resonated with a public hungry for heroes. Livingstone’s desire to see slavery eradicated from Africa only added to his popularity. And by  the nineteenth century William Wilberforce’s revolution against slavery was becoming the public cause of the day.

David Livingstone’s reports from the edge of the world were met with great anticipation, until one day contact with him had suddenly gone silent. For six years no news came, and many feared that somewhere in the African interior that the good doctor had finally met the Great Physician in person.

Nine months after landing in Africa, a journalist named Henry Morgan Stanley (age of 28) would finally locate Livingstone. In his best-selling book “How I Found Livingstone,”  there is a certain emotional theatricality attached to Stanley’s retelling.

“As I advanced slowly towards him I noticed he was pale, that he looked wearied,…I would have run to him, only I was a coward in the presence of such a mob– I did not know how he would receive me; so I did what moral cowardice and false pride suggested was the best thing”  Which was to deliver one of the most memorable first greetings in the history of the English language, Stanley took of his hat, and uttered,  “DR. LIVINGSTONE, I PRESUME?

Yes,” said he, with a kind, cordial smile, lifting his cap slightly. I replaced my hat on my head, and he replaced his cap, and we both grasped hands.  I then said aloud: “I thank God, Doctor, I have been permitted to see you. He answered, “I feel thankful that I am here to welcome you.”

Stanley would unsuccessfully attempt to persuade Livingstone to return to Britain with him. Livingstone would never see home again, two years later he would die on African soil.

Stanley would return from Africa a bone-fide media star and hero. In his writings and public appearances, Stanley spoke of his desire to leave an evangelistic legacy on the African continent, wishing that he would be “selected in opening up Africa to the shining light of Christianity!”

The public now firmly viewed Stanley as the epitome of the African explorer. But finding Livingstone was now not enough,

The newspapers, who sponsored his first trip, again sent Stanley back to Africa under the pretense of exploring the course of the Congo River. His real mission was to create news that would sell newspapers. But the news sent back this time was far different from the “branding” he had worked so hard to sculpt.


THIS WEEK’S Guest Blog Series from Mark Sayers

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