"Dr. Livingstone, I presume" are probably the most famous words ever uttered in colonial history. They were (supposedly) spoken by Henry Morton Stanley, a New York journalist, who'd been hired to "find" the "lost" Dr. David Livingstone.
Livingstone, a Scottish explorer/missionary was found in 1871, but hadn't been heard from since his 1866 departure for Africa to trace the source of the Nile River.
During the preceding years, Henry Morton Stanley (right) was busy making a name for himself. He went from working as a journalist to become a world-wide celebrity, and one of the most famous explorers of the century. He eventually served in Parliament, won a Knighthood from Queen Victoria, and helped King Leopold II of Belgium, create a vast empire in Africa three times the size of his own country. He was also a known liar who helped fabricate his own legend. During his life, he was certainly known to be mysogynistic, and is now known (or seriously thought) to have been a repressed homosexual.
Henry Morton Stanley was actually born John Rowlands in 1841, to a teenaged, unwed mother in Wales. At the age of 5, he was placed in a Union Workhouse for poor boys where Dickensian conditions, and older boys paired with younger boys to sleep two to a bed only added insult to injury - depending on a boy's proclivities. John Rowlands eventually made his way to the United States, where he met a wealthy trader (???) named Stanley. He said he approached Mr. Stanley outside his store in New Orleans, LA, and asked "Do you want a boy, sir?" The older man was childless and had indeed been wishing he had his own boy, so in 1859, at the age of 18, that's what John Rowlands became to the elder Mr. Stanley. And he changed his name in honor of the occasion. But for some strange reason, after John Rowlands became famous as Henry Morton Stanley, he tried to write the older man out of his life by saying he died just two years after they met, when in fact he didn't die until way after the younger man achieved world-wide fame.
Many scholars eventually cited Stanley's untold love of Africa in biographies, but failed to cite the untold amount of death, destruction, and suffering he brought to his beloved "dark continent." In fact, the spread of trypanosomiasis (a parasitic disease transmitted by the tsetse fly) is strongly attributed to one of Stanley's reckless African expeditions. Moreover, his friend and fellow explorer, Sir. Richard Burton, once said "Stanley shoots Negroes as if they were monkeys." His defense was that "savages" only respect force, power, boldness, and decision. In addition, Stanley's best selling books like Through The Dark Continent, and In Darkest Africa, did much to instill fear of Africa, simutaneously helping to create the myth of the barbaric cannibal & the noble savage. Yet, these books are still well-known, but there is one other that is hardly mentioned these days. It's called My Kalulu, and it is nothing short of an exotic tale about the relationship between two young African boys. It's been described as having a 19th Century "homosocial ambiance" and is full of Victorian references to homosexuality that readers "in the know" surely picked up on. In Robert Aldrich's Colonialism and Homosexuality, the author devotes at least five pages to the homoerotic nature of My Kalulu, and we find that Kalulu, one of the two main characters, was no mere work of fiction.
Kalulu's real name was N'dugu M' Hali. Henry Morton Stanley changed it because he didn't like it. He was born approximately around 1865, thus he was only seven or eight years old when Stanley arrived in Africa around 1871. Kalulu was a bright-eyed, intelligent and diligent youngster who impressed the thirty-ish journalist-turned-explorer. "He understands my ways and mode of life exactly" Stanley recorded early on. Kalulu so greatly impressed Stanley that he quickly became his gun bearer, page, and favorite servant. To some extent, Kalulu was Stanley's adopted son, but Stanley often referred to his son as his "infant cannibal." Stanley brought Kalulu back to Europe and toured the United States, where he dazzled onlookers by singing songs in Swahili. They also spent a month in Seychelles, the French speaking island country near Madagascar. There, and later in London, Stanley and Kalulu were photographed together. Kalulu, a brilliant child, expressed his racial and native pride in Paris, where he was already fluent in the language. One amused Frenchman noted "Kalulu never allows his admiration to overstep his patriotism. His native Chambezi is ever to him the finest of rivers, and his description of its beauties and amenities represent it to be vastly more civilized than the most advanced districts of England. Since his introduction to French society his mental powers have been rather taxed but so far he has proved equal to the occasion. His first taste of wine, combined with the excitement of traveling by express, made him a decidedly hilarious companion."
In England, Kalulu modeled for Madame Tussaud, had tea with high society, and for a short time was enrolled in school, where the headmaster reported him "clever" and ever progressing in learning to speak English. When Dr. David Livingstone died in Zanzibar in 1873, Kalulu walked behind the coffin at Westminster Abbey, when the body was brought back to England. However, Henry Morton Stanley decided to take up where Livingstone left off studying the origins of the Congo River. He returned to Africa, and took Kalulu with him. Never having forgotten who he was, where he came from, or perhaps just wanting to get away from Stanley, N'dugu M' Hali rose up in him, and he tried to desert camp sometime between 1874 and 1876. Stanley had him "recaptured" and placed in "slave chains" for his transgressions. Around the age of 13 (pictured here) , N'DUGU M' HALI met an accidental death in a boat that went over some falls on the Congo River. A distraught Henry Morton Stanley named the site Kalulu Falls in his honor and they are still known as such to this day.
There is only circumstantial evidence left to suggest that there was any real sexual contact between Stanley and Kalulu. The novel, My Kalulu, was written before the real Kalulu's death, and the child protagonist of the book was somewhat older than the real Kalulu. It is perhaps a mix of fact and fiction, but the question begs to be asked why Stanley decided to eroticize his little friend if there was nothing going on in real life? Before Kalulu, there was Edwin Swift Balch, the 13-year old son of a host in Paris. The boys parents put a stop to the unequal fraternizing. After Kalulu, and well into his 40's, Stanley had a young, robust Congolese boy named Bauti "sharing a flat" with him in London. Then there was 17 year old William Hoffman, and Arthur M. Jephson, who he carried with him on his honeymoon. Henry Morton Stanley was a very complex man. His biographer, Frank McLynn calls him a "schizoid personality" inhabiting the limbo between homosexuality and heterosexuality. McLynn was just one of a few researchers who thought Stanley repressed his true sexuality, and that My Kalulu was just another way of transforming thwarted personal feelings into a book. "His obsession with books as the perfect barrier between himself and the physical world, especially the world of sexuality, became almost fetishistic" he writes.
The book, My Kalulu, is now considered an early contribution to the homosexual canon, and thus many historians now acknowledge the relationship between the two to have been erotic in nature. Oddly, they call it "homosexual" instead of just GROSSLY INAPPROPRIATE!