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1517

The forces of the Ottoman Empire enter Cairo and complete their conquest of the Mamluks, who have ruled Egypt since 1250. The Turks kill the last Mamluk Sultan, Tuman bay II, and hang his body over the City Gate for three days. However, Egypt will prove such a difficult place to administer that the Ottomans will eventually give up, and grant semi-autonomy to the country.

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1517

1689

The Dutch ship the Noord sails from the Cape Town (South Africa) and heads east and north on a mission to chart the coast. Also tasked with locating the crew of the shipwrecked Stavenisse, the Noord is to continue to De la Goa (Delgoa Bay, Mozambique). When they are located, the shipwrecked crew will report that they were well treated by the indigenous peoples, and the land there is fertile and full of cattle. Maize is grown in abundance, and can be stored for years underground. The local people refuse to enter into the slave trade “for they will not part with their children, or any of their connections, for anything in the world, loving one another with a most remarkable strength.”

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1689

1872

A rare Indian Ocean cyclone hits East Africa, moving across Zanzibar and striking the mainland at Bagamoyo, German East Africa (Tanzania). Survivors must cope with devastating storm damage.

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1872

1876

Algiers’ large Neo-Byzantine Catholic church, the Notre-Dame d’Afrique, opens as Pope Pius IX decrees its status as a Basilica.

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1876

1906

The first African student to enroll at Columbia University in New York, Pixley ka Isaka Seme from Zululand, South Africa, is awarded Columbia's highest oratorical honour, and is profiled in the New York Times. As a “symbol,” he is seen as a beneficiary of white Christian missionaries “civilising” influence and is burdened with “uplifting” his people when he returns to Africa. He will pass the bar to become a South African lawyer in 1910, and be a founding organiser of the African National Congress that will seek black South African rights and ultimately overturn the apartheid system.

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1906

1912

South African passengers are aboard the S.S. Titanic when it strikes an iceberg and sinks in the North Atlantic. Elizabeth Brown and her daughter Eileen survive in a lifeboat, but their husband and father Thomas Brown perishes. Also killed are Charles Chapman, Austin Blyler and his sons James and Walter, William Bull, Mary Griffin, Francesco Celotti, Nathan Goldsmith, and Sidney Jacobsohn, whose wife Amy does survive.

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1912

1942

The British movie 49th Parallel is released in the U.S. as The Invaders, but with the deletion of a line said by a Nazi commander: “Eskimos are sub-apes like Negroes, one step above the Jews.” The line is censored, but not to avoid offending Africans or people of African descent, Native Americans or Jews. The line is cut to avoid offending racists in America’s South who share the opinion but don’t want to hear it said by a Nazi, with whom the U.S. is at war.

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1942

1952

Exactly 80 years to the day after a rare cyclone hit Zanzibar and German East Africa (Tanzania), the Lindi tropical cyclone makes landfall in British Tanganyika. Because the colony has developed since 1872, damage and casualties are higher.

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1952

1954

Freedom of Assembly is suspended in South Africa as The Riotous Assemblies Act goes into effect, empowering the Minister of Justice to ban any public gathering for any length of time, and making protests against racist apartheid policies effectively illegal.

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1954

1958

The First Conference of Independent African States opens in Accra, Ghana. North Africa and West Africa’s independent states are represented: Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia. In honour of the conference, it is resolved to make April 15 Africa Liberation Day to be observed annually. The name will be changed to Africa Freedom Day and eventually Africa Day, celebrated on May 25.

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1958

1973

Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi double-crosses other authorities in the Revolutionary Command Council by promising them he will announce his resignation in a speech he gives today in Zuwara. Instead, he calls for a Cultural Revolution. Modeled after China’s Cultural Revolution that purged China's government of rivals to Mao Zedong, Libya’s Cultural Revolution ends with Gaddafi in total control of the country.

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1973

1974

A military coup d’état against the first president of Mali, Hamani Diori is the culmination of a food aid scandal and resentment over his assumption of greater powers. He is imprisoned for six years, and will be put under house arrest for seven more years, until in 1987, when he will go into exile in Morocco.

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1974

1986

The bombing of Benghazi and Tripoli, Libya, which kills 45, is ordered by U.S. President Ronald Reagan after Washington intercepts Libyan intelligence cables that reveal Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi ordered the bombing of a West Berlin, Germany club where 79 Americans were killed and 279 injured on 5 April 1986.

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1986

1998

The United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic is formed. The 1,350 strong peacekeeping force of soldiers from 14 countries ensures that peaceful elections are held. MINURCA withdraws from CAR after the country’s stability is confirmed by peaceful elections in 2000.

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1998

2006

With a stable democratic government in place, curfew imposed in 1993 is lifted in Burundi, formally ending the Burundian Civil War.  300,000 Burundians died in ethnic clashes during the conflict, which was notable for genocide, use of child soldiers and other crimes against humanity.

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2006

2012

Puntland inaugurates its constitution, 14 years after its establishment as an autonomous region within the Somalia federation. A Puntland Electoral Commission is instituted to enable a multi-party democracy.

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2012

Births

1890
Paul Hazoumé

Beninese writer, newspaper editor and intellectual, in Porot-Novo, French Dahomey. Descended from Benin royalty and favoured by the French colonial government, he was an editor at three newspapers, one which he founded with his brother in 1917. He published a noted history of Dahomey (Benin) in 1937 and an historical novel in 1938. He was co-founder of Benin’s first political party, the Dahomeyan Progressive Union, and in 1964 he became chairman of the society the Association des Anciens du Dahomey.

1906
Basdeo Bissoondoyal

Mauritian social activist and teacher, in Port Louis, British Mauritius. He championed the working poor and campaigned for education and universal suffrage in the 1930s and 1940s, when Indian and other migrant workers were cruelly exploited at sugar cane plantations. British authorities jailed him four times and were close to deporting him when they concluded that he was not driven by politics but by idealism.

1962
Nawal El Moutawakel

Moroccan athlete, in Casablanca, Morocco. She was the first black African woman and the first Moroccan to win an Olympic Games medal, when she took gold in the Women’s 400 metre hurdles at the 1984 Summer Olympics.