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First written by nadia_rifaat and 0 others, on Fri, 2012/08/17 - 1:30pm, and has been viewed by 1 unique users

From: nadia_rifaat@yahoo.com
Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2012 03:30:54 -0700 (PDT)
“For when man ardently seeks Thy beauty
His soul will joyously go to its death from the midst of richest
life”
 Inb Al-Farid            
 
I
had never heard of Knud Holmboe nor of his travel memoires “Desert Encounters”
until a friend posted a link to the memoires on Facebook.  I was first drawn by the image on its front
page of a young handsome foreign man in Arab dress. Moreover, being a lover of
history and travel I was further drawn by the fact that it was not only a
travel memoire of “An Adventurous  Journey
through North Africa”, but that its events had occurred in 1930.  But what most aroused my curiosity was what
seemed to have been a very brief life of the author Knud Holombe, for under his
handsome picture was the date (1902-1931) and under it the phrase: “A Martyr
of Freedom of Expression”.  So who
was he and what was this journey all about??

Knud
Holmboe was a Danish journalist and travel writer. Son of a Danish businessman,
it appears that his smug materialist middle-class life in Denmark was not compatible
with his more adventurous, rebellious and reflective nature. His career in
journalism quenched his thirst for travel to remote areas, taking him to
Morocco, where he witnessed and wrote about the brutal French colonial war
against the people of Morocco, as well as to Iraq, Turkey, Persia and the
Balkans.

These
travels however were paralleled with a passion for religions and philosophy and
an inner quest on issues of faith and identity. At the age of twenty he
embraced Catholicism and lived for a while in a monastery in France. However, still
restless and searching, his travels to Morocco brought him in close contact
with the Muslim population and with their faith, finally leading him to convert
to Islam, a faith he believed to be “the true Christianity” and whose
people “practiced in their daily life so closely to  what the prophet Jesus taught”.

“Desert
Encounters” is a gripping account of the journey Knud began in 1930 in his
Chevrolet Model 1929 from Morocco in the west across the vast Sahara desert
with a plan to reach Egypt. Reading it, one senses Knud’s deep interest in
knowing and coming close to the people of these nations: “This was going to
be my last day as a European…and my first day with the people I so much wanted
to know and whom one can only get to know by living among them”.
 
His
courage is evident in travelling through difficult and unknown terrain, never
turning back even when his car broke down more than once, almost lost, and
close to dying of thirst. But his courage and humanism are more evident in his
account of the atrocities committed by colonial powers in North Africa, and
primarily of the shocking treatment of the Libyan population by the Italian Fascist
occupation. “In Europe one is told that the peaceful Italians in Cyrenaica
have been attacked by the blood-thirsty Arabs. Only I, who have seen it, know
who the barbarians are”.

Knud
developed a strong sympathy and respect of the Libyan people and their struggle,
describing their poor illiterate fighters as “the truest noblemen I have
ever met”. However, this sympathy brought on him the wrath of the Italian
occupation who finally arrested and deported him before he could complete his
journey to Egypt.

When
“Desert Encounter” was published in 1931 it became an instant bestseller in
Denmark, in many European countries and in the USA, but it was banned in Italy
and not translated into the Italian language until 2004.  In the same year Knud was killed at the age
of 29 while travelling in Aqaba on his way to Mecca and it was speculated that
the Italian intelligence was involved, but this was never verified.

One
is often pained when a life is cut so short, especially a life so intense and promising
as Knud’s life seemed to be. The only consolation is that his story is still alive 80
years after his death and his humanistic message is still reaching many across
the world:

“Deep
down within themselves the peoples of the East and the West are alike.  They are two branches of the same tree. And
when man, regardless of whence he comes, seeks deep in his heart, he will feel
the longing for the root of the tree”.
 
With
this journey comes the end of this series but not of my personal quest…my bag
is still filled with books…my  journey
still long…

Happy
Eid and God Bless you all.

Nadia Rifaat

http://whispersfromthesea.blogspot.com/



“For when man ardently seeks Thy beauty

His soul will joyously go to its death from the midst of richest
life”

 Inb Al-Farid            

 

I
had never heard of Knud Holmboe nor of his travel memoires “Desert Encounters”
until a friend posted a link to the memoires on Facebook.  I was first drawn by the image on its front
page of a young handsome foreign man in Arab dress. Moreover, being a lover of
history and travel I was further drawn by the fact that it was not only a
travel memoire of “An Adventurous  Journey
through North Africa”, but that its events had occurred in 1930.  But what most aroused my curiosity was what
seemed to have been a very brief life of the author Knud Holombe, for under his
handsome picture was the date (1902-1931) and under it the phrase: “A Martyr
of Freedom of Expression”.
 So who
was he and what was this journey all about??


Knud
Holmboe was a Danish journalist and travel writer. Son of a Danish businessman,
it appears that his smug materialist middle-class life in Denmark was not compatible
with his more adventurous, rebellious and reflective nature. His career in
journalism quenched his thirst for travel to remote areas, taking him to
Morocco, where he witnessed and wrote about the brutal French colonial war
against the people of Morocco, as well as to Iraq, Turkey, Persia and the
Balkans.


These
travels however were paralleled with a passion for religions and philosophy and
an inner quest on issues of faith and identity. At the age of twenty he
embraced Catholicism and lived for a while in a monastery in France. However, still
restless and searching, his travels to Morocco brought him in close contact
with the Muslim population and with their faith, finally leading him to convert
to Islam, a faith he believed to be “the true Christianity” and whose
people “practiced in their daily life so closely to  what the prophet Jesus taught”.


“Desert
Encounters” is a gripping account of the journey Knud began in 1930 in his
Chevrolet Model 1929 from Morocco in the west across the vast Sahara desert
with a plan to reach Egypt. Reading it, one senses Knud’s deep interest in
knowing and coming close to the people of these nations: “This was going to
be my last day as a European…and my first day with the people I so much wanted
to know and whom one can only get to know by living among them”.

 

His
courage is evident in travelling through difficult and unknown terrain, never
turning back even when his car broke down more than once, almost lost, and
close to dying of thirst. But his courage and humanism are more evident in his
account of the atrocities committed by colonial powers in North Africa, and
primarily of the shocking treatment of the Libyan population by the Italian Fascist
occupation. “In Europe one is told that the peaceful Italians in Cyrenaica
have been attacked by the blood-thirsty Arabs. Only I, who have seen it, know
who the barbarians are”
.


Knud
developed a strong sympathy and respect of the Libyan people and their struggle,
describing their poor illiterate fighters as “the truest noblemen I have
ever met”.
However, this sympathy brought on him the wrath of the Italian
occupation who finally arrested and deported him before he could complete his
journey to Egypt.


When
“Desert Encounter” was published in 1931 it became an instant bestseller in
Denmark, in many European countries and in the USA, but it was banned in Italy
and not translated into the Italian language until 2004.  In the same year Knud was killed at the age
of 29 while travelling in Aqaba on his way to Mecca and it was speculated that
the Italian intelligence was involved, but this was never verified.


One
is often pained when a life is cut so short, especially a life so intense and promising
as Knud’s life seemed to be. The only consolation is that his story is still alive 80
years after his death and his humanistic message is still reaching many across
the world:


“Deep
down within themselves the peoples of the East and the West are alike.  They are two branches of the same tree. And
when man, regardless of whence he comes, seeks deep in his heart, he will feel
the longing for the root of the tree”.

 

With
this journey comes the end of this series but not of my personal quest…my bag
is still filled with books…my  journey
still long…


Happy
Eid and God Bless you all.


Nadia Rifaat