Emil Holub

Emil Holub ( October 7, 1847 in Holitz (then Empire of Austria, now Czech Republic ); † February 21, 1902 in Vienna) was a Bohemian explorer.


Emil Holub was the son of František Holub, a medical practitioner, and his wife Anna. Early on, he developed a passion for natural sciences and archeology ( his example was David Livingstone ), but studied on his parents' wishes at the Charles University in Prague medicine.

Four months after his graduation Holub went ( with a friend's financial support ) in 1872 to South Africa where he acquired the diamond district of Kimberley as a doctor the means of three major expeditions.

In the Service of science, Holub had infected during his second trip to Africa (1883-1887) with malaria and was following the outbreak of the disease depend on the help loyal friends.

At the beginning of the last decade of life were Holub plotted high office, but he turned down all of them, contrary to his health convinced soon to travel back to Africa. Holub chatted with lectures in all possible provincial towns afloat, concealing even towards friends the seriousness of his financial situation. After his 1901 Emperor Franz Joseph I. a lifelong honorary salary of 5,000 crowns had awarded annually, this honor donation could be effected only once.

After years of lingering illness, which had worsened significantly in the last six months of life, Emil Holub died on the evening of February 21, 1902 at his home in the rotunda.

Emil Holub was buried in the Viennese central cemetery in a grave of honor ( group 14 A, number 11) to rest on February 24, 1902. In 1902 (2nd district) was named the street after him Holub in Vienna Leopoldstadt.


First expedition

He passed in 1873 the Vaal River, crossed the Kraal Lekatlong in the land of Barolong ( Bantu ) along the western slope of the Pokoneberge to Kraal Mitzima, then Springbokfontein and Gasfibone, crossed the Pokone Mountains, visited the caves of Wonderfontein and the ruins of Monomotapa and returned with rich collections beginning in 1873 back to Doloitspan.

Second expedition

On his second, already begun in November 1873 Travel Holub explored parts of the western and eastern Transvaal and north of it rich Seschele and Sekomo.

Third expedition

On the third he went north again in 1875 on Moiloa, Buisport and Soschong after pandama - Tenka and returned via Soschong back to Kimberley. Here he came up to the Zambezi and Victoria Falls.

Return to Europe

The end of 1879 he returned to Europe and reaped with lectures about his travels while applause, but no support for his plan to build an Africa Museum. His book Seven Years in Africa, which he published in 1880, was sold successfully and compared his work with that of Charles Darwin.

Unsuccessful crossed Africa from South to North

In Prague, where he had his residence, he prepared a new, ambitious expedition from Cape Town meridional throughout the African continent to Egypt. The journey, accompanied by his 18 year old wife took four years and was accompanied by many hardships, illnesses and accidents. It ends in 1886 on the Zambezi, where, after fighting with the Mashona ( Maschukulumbe the upper Kafue ), much of the equipment and the collection was lost. Plundered and huge exertion he returned in February 1887 Schoschong in Bechuanaland back and soon to Europe. However, its more than 13,000 objects counting collection could be saved.

After his return Holub traveled in his home numerous cities, where he gave his experiences as a very welcome lecturer for the best. Some in his account seems exaggerated, otherwise turn is played down, as a whole, but convey his notes a quite clear picture of what hardships and dangers of a researcher also expected at the end of the 19th century.

In 1890 he reported in his book From Capetown to the land of Maschukulumbe about the expedition, the book has been as successful as his first.

From both travel works, the text and images fro larger Czech expenditure than the original editions are to be considered and not the self- published by the author of German, but these were taken in ignorance of this fact as the basis for the English translations.

In the spring of 1891 was self-financed in the Vienna Rotunda Holub's " South African Exhibition" opened - the, castle, despite international attention with a deficit. 1892 show in Prague was shown. Holub's offer to the Prague National Museum, its 13,000 objects comprehensive collection to take charge was rejected. His collection is therefore now dispersed to more than 500 museums and educational institutions worldwide.

Philately and Numismatics

  • Czechoslovakia: Special Edition on February 21, 1952 50th anniversary. 2 values ​​for 3 and 5 crowns. Michel 707-708.
  • Czech Republic: Special Edition on 3 October 2007 on the 160th anniversary. 1 value to 11 crowns. Michel 529
  • 2002 Czech Republic: 200 Korun, silver, commemorative coin for 100th anniversary of his birth.


  • Few words on the native question. (English). Independent, Kimberley 1877, ANL.
  • A Culturskizze of Marutse Mambunda empire in South - Central Africa. Gerold, Vienna in 1879, OBV.
  • Catalog of the exhibited in the pavilion of the amateur objects. Part 1 Jasper, Vienna 1880 -, Austrian National Library.
  • Seven Years in South Africa. Experiences, experiences, research, and hunts in my travels of the diamond fields and the Zambesi ( 1872-1879 ). Two volumes. Hölder, Vienna 1880/81, OBV. - Volume 1: Internet Archive, Volume 2: Internet Archive.
  • The French in Tunis. From the standpoint of exploration and civilization of Africa. A. Hölder, Vienna 1881, LOC.
  • The colonization of Africa. Four booklets. Hölder, Vienna 1881 -, Austrian National Library.
  • - August of Pelzeln: Contributions to the ornithology of South Africa - with special reference to data collected by Dr. Holub on his South African Travel and exhibited in the pavilion of the amateur to Vienna species. Alfred Hölder, Vienna 1882, OBV. - Internet Archive.
  • The elephant hunt in South Africa. Vienna 1882.
  • The English in South Africa. A. Hölder, Vienna 1882 -, LOC.
  • About the researches and experiences in South Africa. (Lecture ). Publisher of the Staff Association, Vienna 1887, OBV.
  • From Capetown to the land of Maschukulumbe. Travel in Southern Africa in the years 1883 to 1887. Two volumes. Hölder, Vienna, 1890, obv. - Volume 1: Internet Archive, Volume 2: Internet Archive
  • - Hans Stadler (ed.): In cart tracks and paths through Negro South Africa. According to the original reports narrated and edited by Hans Stadler. German publisher of youth and popular, Vienna 1924, ANL.
  • Eleven years among the blacks of South Africa. Travel and Adventure, Volume 30, Brockhaus, Leipzig 1926, ANL.
  • - Franz Titze - Ehr: To the Land of Maschukulumbe - the last trip to Africa, the great explorer. Breitschopf, Vienna in 1947, OBV.

Honors, awards

  • Franz -Joseph- Orden ( after 1879; Order class not known)
  • After his death, Emil Holub was buried in the Viennese central cemetery in a grave of honor of the city of Vienna; later his wife was buried there.
  • In his birthplace, the Dr. Emil Holub Holice Memorial / African Museum ( Památník Dr. Emila Holuba - Africké Muzeum ) was opened in 1964, where significant memorabilia found their place and that was a well-known tourist destination.
  • In September 2005, a bust of Emil Holub was unveiled in front of the building of the Zambian National Ethnographic Museum in Livingstone, near the Victoria Falls, which previously mapped these waterfalls among other 130 years. Despite this merit he is little known in Zambia.