by Jared McDonald
University of the Free State, South Africa
David Livingstone first sighted Victoria Falls on 16 November 1855, securing his place in history as the first European to view this natural wonder of the world. Livingstone remains an important part of the Victoria Falls tourism industry. Tourists from across the globe travel to both Zimbabwe and Zambia to see the Falls that mark the international border between the two countries. Local tour guides deliver lectures on Livingstone aboard sunset cruises on the Zambezi River and beside statues of Livingstone on the Zimbabwean and Zambian sides of the Falls.
Thanks to my recent visits to the Falls, Livingstone Online has begun to generate interest on both sides of the Zambezi River. Our project continues to build ties with the Livingstone Museum in Livingstone, Zambia. Likewise, the Jafuta Foundation in Victoria Falls Town, Zimbabwe – enthusiastically led by Foundation trustee, Gail van Jaarsveldt – is carrying on its support of Livingstone Online.
On 1 July, I was invited by the Young President’s Organisation – a global association of CEOs and their families – to present a talk on Livingstone and Livingstone Online during an excursion aboard the Bushtracks Express Steam Train. The Bushtracks train has been recently refurbished and is stationed at the famous Victoria Falls Hotel. Part of our journey involved a brief stop atop the Victoria Falls Bridge – which connects Zimbabwe and Zambia – to enjoy the sun setting over the Falls.
Following dinner, I delivered a lecture titled, “Dr. Livingstone, I Presume? Man, Myth, Legacy.” In addition to recounting the life and times of David Livingstone, I also introduced the audience to Livingstone Online and the Livingstone Spectral Imaging Project. The younger members of the group were captivated by the lion attack Livingstone survived, while all were fascinated by the efforts of Chuma and Susi to return Livingstone’s remains to the UK. Challenging the Livingstone myth was a central topic during the Q&A that followed.