This day, 100 years ago, I would have been pleased to wish Dr John Kirk a very happy 29th birthday. He would no doubt have not been very interested in my good wishes as he would have been quite busy taking part in David Livingstone's Zambesi expedition of which he had been a part since 1858.
By 1861, Kirk and Livingstone and their fellow explorers would have been in the area of Lake Nyassa and Kirk would be busy collecting botanical samples and corresponding with the great scientific minds of his day - people like Richard Owen and Joseph and William Hooker.
But my best wishes for Kirk would perhaps be reserved not for his genius as a botanist, but for his role in attempting to hasten the end of slavery in Zanzibar whilst he worked for the consular service there in the 1870s.
An interesting man, who has left a wealth of papers, many held here in Edinburgh at the National Library of Scotland which may be of interest if you would like to investigate his life. There will be also be a talk about Dr (later Sir) John Kirk at the National Archives in London on 12th January 2012, given by Alastair Hazell, whose book The Last Slave Market traces the extraordinary life of Kirk.