Paul Bayly, the head of trans-Tasman consulting firm Cranleigh, heads to London this week for the launch of his book David Livingstone, Africa's Greatest Explorer and address the Royal Geographical Society.
The book examines the life and legacy of explorer and anti-slavery campaigner Dr David Livingstone, who covered more than 29,000 miles across Southern Africa and opened up about one million square miles of uncharted territory.
During his promotional trip Bayly will address the Royal Geographical Society in Kensington and he will also speaking at an event at Gieves and Hawkes, the Savile Row tailor which outfitted many of the 19th century explorers. A New Zealand launch for the book is planned for March.
Bayly says he became interested in Livingstone in the early 1990s when he worked for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation in Africa and encountered relics of the slave trade which the explorer had campaigned against.
"It was a wonderful job which allowed me to travel through the back blocks of southern and eastern Africa for a couple of years," he remembers.
While he was travelling in Mozambique and Tanzania he noticed that palm trees had been planted on hill tops or other high points of the terrain.
"When I asked people what they were they said the palm trees had planted by the Arabs as markers to guide them along the old slave routes," Bayly says.
Bayly started researching the book as a means of escaping the binge drinking culture that was prevalent among expatriates in Africa in the 1990s.
"In some of those places there was little to do except drink. I needed a project so that I would have an excuse to turn down all those drinks invitations. Otherwise I would have become a soak like everybody else."
Bayly continued to research Livingstone's life at libraries and archives in several countries over the years. The Sir George Grey Special Collections at Auckland Library was particularly helpful, he says.
Proceeds from the book launch at the Royal Geographical Society will support the 'Phoenicians Before Columbus Expedition', which Bayly is planning to take part in next year.
Bayly says the expedition will attempt to prove that the Phoenician civilisation was capable of reaching America, hundreds of years before Columbus set foot on Cuba in 1492.
"The boat we'll be using is an exact replica of a Phoenician wreck dating back to 600 BC that was found off Marseilles, so it's total authentic," says Bayly.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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