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LIVINGSTONE (Zambia) - statue of explorer Emil Holub unveiled

Bust of Emil Holub has been unveiled in Livingstone, the Zambian city bearing the name of Holub's predecessor and role model. A bust of Emil Holub is located just outside the Livingstone National Museum of Zambia – which incidentally - was once headed by another Czech, ethnographer and Africanist Ladislav Holý, between 1968 and 1972.

It's been 150 years since David Livingstone discovered a waterfall, which the natives called "the smoke that thunders" and christened it "the Victoria Falls" after reigning British queen. But the first ever map of the Falls and adjacent territory was drawn by a Czech-Austrian explorer, Emil Holub, who arrived at the Victoria Falls twenty years after Livingstone. To commemorate this event, a bust of Emil Holub has been unveiled in Livingstone, the Zambian city bearing the name of Holub's predecessor and role model. A bust of Emil Holub is located just outside the Livingstone National Museum of Zambia - which incidentally - was once headed by another Czech, ethnographer and Africanist Ladislav Holý, between 1968 and 1972.

The event was organised jointly by the Czech and Austrian embassies accredited to Zambia, Czech consul Marie Imbrová said the Czech Radio: "This year we are celebrating 130 years since the first ever map of the Victoria Falls was drawn by Emil Holub. Naturally, we were looking for a way to make that fact widely known, especially in Zambia and Zimbabwe. We agreed with the Livingstone museum that we would raise the statue outside the premises and they would show an exhibition on Emil Holub's stays there and about what he did for this region."

The bust was made by a Zimbabwean artist, Last Mahwahwa, according to period photographs supplied by the Czech side.

Emil Holub would probably have become a family doctor somewhere in rural Bohemia in then Austro-Hungarian Empire had he not come across a German edition of David Livingstone´s diaries. From then on - as he writes in his travelogues - he became obsessed with Africa. He set off for the first time in 1872 and three years later he stood in awe before Victoria Falls. "Even the greatest literary masters would certainly have fallen silent facing such majestic and ever-changing scenery. A human being is totally incapable of describing Mother Nature where she performs with such might as at the Victoria Falls - there, Man just has to adore her!' Emil Holub wrote about the Victoria Falls, which he visited twice, in 1875 and ten years later, then accompanied by his newlywed wife Rosa.
On his African travels, Emil Holub collected everything from ethnographic exhibits to animals, from birds to rock paintings. He wrote about it passionately: "Of all my curiosities of which I brought back forty cases closely packed, I considered my ethnographical specimens, 400 in number, the most valuable, but in addition to these I had a great collection of insects, horns, plants, reptiles, skins of quadrupeds and birds, minerals, skeletons, spiders, crustaceans, molluscs and fossils."
Holub brought back to the heart of Europe some 30,000 items from his four exhibitions, and he donated them to schools and various museums back home. But he also brought back descriptions and drawings of plants, animals and also notes about the life and culture of the local population. His works are the first reliable source in the research of the culture of the Lozis, important tribe living in Western Zambia.

(after Pavla Horáková, Czech Radio)

October 2005