Statue of explorer Emil Holub unveiled in Livingstone, Zambia

Emil Holub

It's been 150 years since David Livingstone discovered a waterfall which the local natives called "the smoke that thunders" and christened it "Victoria Falls" after his queen. But the first ever map of the great falls was drawn by a Czech explorer, Dr Emil Holub who arrived at Victoria Falls twenty years later. To commemorate the event, a bust of Emil Holub has been unveiled in Livingstone, the Zambian city bearing the name of Holub's predecessor and role model.

Emil Holub would probably have become a family doctor somewhere in rural Bohemia had he not come across a German edition of David Livingstone's diaries. From then on - as he writes in his memoirs - 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 famous Victoria Falls, which he visited twice, in 1875 and ten years later, accompanied by his newlywed wife.

A bust of Emil Holub was unveiled this week outside the Livingstone Museum - which, incidentally, was headed by another Czech, Ladislav Holy, between 1968 and 1972.

The event was organised by the Czech Embassy in Zambia. Consul Marie Imbrova.

"This year we are celebrating 130 years since the first ever map of 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 local artist, Last Mahwahwa, according to period photographs supplied by the Czech side.

On his African travels, Emil Holub collected everything from ethnographical exhibits to animals, from birds to rock paintings.

"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 some 13,000 items from his four expeditions, and he sold them to schools and 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.

"Emil Holub, for example, is the only reliable source in the research of the culture of the Lozi tribe who lived in this area in the 18th and 19th centuries. For the Lozis Emil Holub's notes are the most important ethnographical source of information about their nation."

From Livingstone, the exhibition about Emil Holub's life and work will move to South Africa and Botswana. The Czech Embassy is also preparing an exhibition of postcards featuring Emil Holub's drawings and a new edition of one of his books.