The Seljan Brothers stamp from Croatia
Hrvatskaposta issued a stamp to commemorate the Seljan brothers. The names of Mirko and Stevo Seljan, explorers and world travellers have been preserved not only in literature and in titles of museum collections but also in the names of streets, schools, associations as well as in one military station in Ethiopia, which they founded while they were in service of the Emperor Menelic II. They set off from Karlovac in 1899 and headed towards Africa, and then after a year spent in Europe, travelled to South America in 1903.
The Seljan brothers grew up in Karlovac, a town which has also earlier seen world travellers, and their fondness of adventures was expressed already at an early age. Especially distinguished was Mirko, who after serving the military service in Romania worked as land surveyor in the basins of rivers Danube and Neva. He travelled through Europe and spoke all major languages and in 1898 won the title Champion of Globetrotter - he walked in only 110 days the whole way from St. Petersburg to Paris.
The commemorating of the 100th anniversary of the death of Mirko Seljan in the Peruvian rain forest is at the same time also remembrance of the fact that much has remained unknown in the life of both brothers from Karlovac. Mirko died according to Stevo's words, "in the service of civilization and human advancement" as a member of an expedition which was set to discover ways between Pacific coastline and the basin of Amazonas.
The circumstances under which the Seljan brothers worked can only partly be deduced from their publicistic works, diaries and letters in which the complex political relations in the world at the dawn of the Great War mostly remain in the background. In the period when Mirko was the governor of the south provinces of Ethiopia and Stevo his deputy, the sovereignty of the country was extended on the right bank of the river Omo, wherefrom a conclusion can be drawn that they had gained their explorer's reputation in the field of geography, geology, ethnology and anthropology and through their efforts in building up that state. It is beyond doubt that the skilful contributions of the Seljan brothers laid the foundations of Croatian Africanist research; also, especially valuable ethnographic objects were donated to at that time People's Museum (Narodnimuzej).
Connections with the homeland were present also in relations with Croatian emigrants in the New World. In Brazil, Chile and Peru the brothers were founding scientific missions and joint stock companies which had the goal - as well as their expeditions - to prepare way for the entrepreneurship of their compatriots. The descendants of the Seljan brothers live today in South America.