Mosi-oa-Tunya water Falls presents a spectacular sight of awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur on the Zambezi River, forming the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
It was named by the Kololo tribe living in the area in the 1800’s as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ which means ‘The Smoke that Thunders’. This is because of the thundering sound it makes and the columns of spray it creates which looks like smoke from a distance.
The sprays which reach a height of over 1km can be seen miles away. At sun set, the Falls hosts a rare and beautiful sight as the light from the moon bouncing off the spray gives life to a moonbow (lunar rainbow), one of the most beautiful natural phenomena on the planet earth.
In 1855 the Mosi-oa-Tunya falls was made known to the outside world by David Livingstone, the first European to view the fall. In communicating what he has seen to Europe, he chose to call it “Victoria Falls” in honour of the then British Monarch, Queen Victoria. The Island upon which he stood to view the fall was also called the Livingstone Island. After being led by the indigenous people to see the falls he wrote:
“After twenty minutes’ sail from Kalai we came in sight, for the first time, of the columns of vapour appropriately called ‘smoke,’ rising at a distance of five or six miles, exactly as when large tracts of grass are burned in Africa…….. The whole scene was extremely beautiful; the banks and islands dotted over the river are adorned with sylvan vegetation of great variety of colour and form…no one can imagine the beauty of the view from anything witnessed in England.”
In modern times Mosi-oa-Tunya Falls is known as the greatest curtain of falling water in the world. More than 500 million cubic meters of water per minute plummet over the edge, over a width of nearly two kilometres, into a gorge over 108 meters below.
With the Fall being regarded as one of the seven natural wonders of the world, many African scholars are calling for the abandonment of the name “Victoria Falls” as the queen has no connection or ancestry link to the falls.
According to them, it is not right to visit African homelands and begin renaming waterfalls and other landmarks in complete disregard to their original names so as to honour non Africans who in many cases have never visited and/or do not have any link to these landmarks.
They stress that the maintenance of the name “Victoria Falls” as well as other foreign names given to some African land marks (e.g. Lake Victoria, Lake Albert, Victoria Rainforest etc) depicts imperialism. In the year 2013, the members of the East African Legislative Assembly wanted the name “Lake Victoria” to changed to an African name.
With the battle still ongoing, Africa Redemption Magazine would love to hear your opinion. Drop them in the comment section below and share this information with your friends.
• Original African name: Mosi-oa-Tunya which means “The Smoke that Thunders”
• European name: Victoria Falls
• Width: 1688m
• Height: 108m
• Rate: 500 million cubic meters of water/min
• Known as one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World.
• The spray can reach 1 km high and can be seen miles away
• Small islands stand on the lip of the Falls, including Livingstone Island, where David Livingstone first viewed the falls
• All segments except the Eastern Cataract are on the Zimbabwe side
• The Rain forest which hosts unique plant species is sustained by the spray from the Falls.
1. Zambia Torism, “The Victoria Falls” Available online at http://www.zambiatourism.com/destinations/waterfalls/victoria-falls Accessed on 04/07/2014
2. Livingstone, David, Missionary Travels and Researches In South Africa (1858)
3. “Livingstone Discovers Victoria Falls, 1855,” EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2000) Available at http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/livingstone.htm
4. Afrizim Travels, “Facts for The Victoria Falls (Mosi-oa-Tunya)” Available online at http://www.afrizim.com/places/victoria_falls/Victoria_Falls.asp Accessed on 04/07/2014
5. JOHN ODYEK AND HENRY SSEKANJAKO, May 2013, “East Africa: Change Lake’Victoria’ to Lake ‘Jumuiya” Available online at http://allafrica.com/stories/201305291404.html Accessed on 04/07/2014