Africa Today/Yesterday Logo

BC 2,100,000,000

The earliest form of multicellular life is busy growing today, like all days, in what will become Gabon. The Gabon Macrofossilsillan Biotaer, which will be named after the future Gabon city where their fossils will be located in the 21st Century by Moroccan geologist Abderrazak El Albani, are flattened 17-cm wide discs that live on land and whose cells somehow communicate to achieve coordinated growth.

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BC 2,100,000,000

1441

Ethiopian Emperor Zara Yaqob, who will be remembered for granting the sacred Debre Bizen Monastery legal ownership of the land atop Mount Debre Bizen, is angered by the Sultan of Egypt’s destruction of the Patriarch of Alexandria’s monastery in Ethiopia. The Emperor has agreed to look after the interests of the Church of Alexandria in Ethiopia. He sends to Sultan Sayf al-Din Jaqmaq a letter saying he has the ability to divert the Nile River so Egypt will dry up, but has never done so out of the goodness of his heart. The Sultan apologises and sends gifts to the Emperor, but fails to rebuilt the Coptic monastery.

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1441

1900

Throughout colonised sub-Saharan Africa, a Westernised middle class is emerging among Africans who hold government positions and who are succeeding as businessmen and businesswomen. (Pic: man in Asaba in British Nigeria’s South Eastern province wears colonial attire, while his wife in traditional attire holds an umbrella)

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1900

1932

Five years after Johannesburg’s unsuccessful attempt at installing a traffic light – a motorist knocked the first one down – Cape Town installs is first traffic signal, on Darling Street. The electric signal and its companions are called “robots” by South Africans.

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1932

1941

British forces begin their offensive against Italy’s army in Eritrea during World War II.

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1941

1948

University of Ibadan is founded, in Ibadan, British Nigeria. The first degree-awarding institution in Nigeria will have an enrollment of 42,000 students in 2023.

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1948

1955

The colonial government of British Kenya offers amnesty to rebel fighters of the anti-colonial Mau Mau Rebellion, although they will still be detained. Not a single rebel accepts the conditional amnesty. It will be withdrawn on 10 June.

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1955

1971

Uganda’s President Milton Obote threatens to leave the Commonwealth if Britain sells arms to apartheid South Africa. If Britain were to do so, he warns, the act will give “the Russians an open invitation to come in and replace the British in East Africa.” Obote notes that 40% of Uganda’s imports are from Britain.

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1971

2001

The World Diamond Council is formed to certify that any diamond sold came to the market legitimately. Certification will be refused to “Blood Diamonds” that are illegally mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo or mined to finance insurgencies in Sierra Leone and elsewhere.

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2001

2002

The release of the movie Black Hawk Down, recounting the story of U.S. troops’ disastrous raid on Somalia’s capital Mogadishu in 1993. The Hollywood drama is criticised for its negative portrayal of Somalis and that no Somali actors were used and non-Somali languages are spoken in scenes set in Mogadishu.

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2002

Births

1946
Jakes Gerwell

Jakes Gerwell, South African academic and anti-apartheid activist, in Somerset East, South Africa. He was democratic South Africa’s first Director-General of the Presidency when he ran the office for President Nelson Mandela. He later helped organise and headed the Nelson Mandela Foundation. He established South Africa as a power in international diplomacy by brokering a 1999 agreement for Libya to surrender for trial the bombers of a passenger jet over Lockerbie, Scotland.

1971
Binyavanga Wainaina

Kenyan author and advocate for gay rights, in Nakuru, Kenya. Defying oppressive anti-gay laws, he uses his award-winning books and fame (Time magazine named him one of the 100 Most Influential People of 2014) to advance the cause of gay rights. An expert in traditional and contemporary African cooking, he collected 13,000 recipes from around the continent.

1990
Gorgui Dieng

Senegalese basketball player who achieved stardom on teams of the U.S.’ National Basketball Association, in Kébémer, Senegal. After playing college basketball in the U.S., his career followed the path of several talented African basketball player in the U.S. in the 21st century: he spent seven seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves, played with two other teams as a free agent, and signed with the Atlanta Hawks in 2021.