The Livingstone–Stanley Monument at Mugere marks a location where explorer and missionary Dr David Livingstone and journalist and explorer Henry Morton Stanley visited and spent two nights on 25–27 November 1871 in Burundi. It is 12 km south of the largest city and former capital Bujumbura, overlooking Lake Tanganyika. In French, it is referred to as La Pierre de Livingstone et Stanley. Some Burundians claim the location is where the famous first meeting of Livingstone and Stanley took place, at which the latter uttered the famous words “Dr Livingstone, I presume?”.

However, that meeting actually took place in Ujiji in Tanzania on 10 November 1871 as clearly detailed in Stanley’s book, “How I Found Livingstone”. David Livingstone’s journal also confirms Ujiji as the location, with an entry the day before the meeting reading “At dawn, off and go to Ujiji”, a town he knew well. Livingstone then details meetings with several Arab residents of Ujiji including one who was supposed to be keeping his goods from his previous visit, before recording Stanley’s arrival.

From their writings, the visit to Mugere appears to be the one on 25–27 November which Livingstone and Stanley described as being one of the most hospitable they enjoyed. The date 25 November 1871 can be seen scratched on the rock. They had rested in Ujiji for six days, and then set off by canoe up the north-east shore of the lake to explore rivers which might flow out of the Lake Tanganyika. At the Mugere River they found the village of Chief Mukamba who welcomed them and gave them a hut in which to rest. They stayed two nights, and Stanley records that Livingstone’s servant Susi got very drunk on the Chief’s hospitality.  As the first Europeans to visit the area, their arrival was memorable, and it must be at some time later the event became confused in some people’s minds as the first meeting between Livingstone and Stanley. A number of sources make this wrong claim.

At the time, the area was ruled by the Kingdom of Burundi . The monument marks the spot where many Burundians claim Livingstone and Stanley visited and spent two nights in 1871. However, based on the journals of both men, the actual meeting took place at a location that is now in Tanzania. The two men agreed to explore the region together and they arrived in the Kingdom of Burundi together.

Posthumous portrait of David Livingstone by Frederick Havill (public domain)

Portrait of Henry Morton Stanley (public domain)

Dr Livingstone, I presume? (public domain)

Stanley and Livingstone did stay in the location of the monument, where they met a local chieftain and were warmly hosted by the local people. Over time, many confused this trip by Livingstone and Stanley with the first meeting and believe that the monument marks the place where the two explorers met.

The monument was erected by the Belgian colonial authorities in the 1950s and despite the misunderstanding, the monument commemorates the two British explorers’ visit to the area, which was to have important historical repercussions for Burundi.

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