On this day in history, January 6

Nelson Mandela and one of his right-hand men, the formidable intellectual Joe Slovo, who did so much for South Africa. Picture: The Joe Slovo Foundation

Nelson Mandela and one of his right-hand men, the formidable intellectual Joe Slovo, who did so much for South Africa. Picture: The Joe Slovo Foundation

Published Jan 6, 2024


Real people, real stories – more than just dates and boring facts

1017 Cnut the Great is crowned King of England in London by Lyfing, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

1066 Harold II (Harold Godwinson) crowned King of England after the death of his brother-in-law Edward the Confessor. The last Anglo-Saxon king, he won’t last long on the throne, falling in battle against William the Conqueror, but not before seeing off an invasion of England by a rival to the throne from Norway. Godwinson was probably the first English monarch to be crowned in Westminster Abbey, a tradition that continues to this day.

1838 Alfred Vail and colleagues demonstrate a telegraph system using dots and dashes – it is the forerunner of Morse Code.

1842 About 4 500 British and Indian troops leave Kabul (present-day Afghanistan), but are massacred by tribesmen before reaching India.

1900 Having already besieged the fortress at Ladysmith, Boer forces attack it, but are driven back with heavy losses inflicted by British defenders.

1907 Maria Montessori opens a school and day-care centre for working-class children in Rome. Her methods of teaching are implemented worldwide and survive to this day, including in South Africa.

1929 Mother Teresa arrives in Calcutta to begin her work among India’s poorest.

1958 The prestigious Bollingen Prize for poetry is awarded to e.e. cummings – one of the greatest lyric poets of the English language. Much of his work has idiosyncratic syntax and uses lower case spellings for poetic expression.

1995 Joe Slovo, the communist intellectual widely credited with being one of the masterminds of South Africa’s national reconciliation, dies of cancer.

1995 A chemical fire in a block of flats in Manila, Philippines, draws police attention to the area and the discovery of plans for Project Bojinka, an al-Qaeda 3-phase mass terrorist attack, which involved assassinating Pope John Paul II, blowing up 11 airliners in flight with the goal of shutting down global air travel and flying a plane into the CIA’s headquarters.

2000 The last Pyrenean ibex (wild mountain goat), a female named Celia, is found dead, crushed by a tree. Following several failed attempts to revive the subspecies through cloning, a living specimen was born in July 2003. However, she died several minutes after birth due to a lung defect. The Pyrenean ibex remains the only animal to have ever been brought back from extinction – and also the only one to go extinct twice.

2017 Five people die and six are injured in a mass shooting at an airport in Florida, US.

2019 About 40 people are killed in a gold mine collapse in northern Afghanistan.

2021 Supporters of President Donald Trump storm the US Capitol in Washington during the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s and Kamala Harris’s win, resulting in five deaths and the evacuation of lawmakers.

2021 North Korean leader Kim Jong-un says country’s five-year economic plan has failed at a rare meeting of the Workers’ Party.

2022 Tennis world No. 1 Novak Djokovic’s visa into Australia is cancelled after an uproar over his Covid-19 vaccination exemption, forcing him to withdraw from the Australian Open.

2023 Gun violence in the US rears its head again when a teacher is shot by her six-year-old pupil at the Richneck Elementary School, in Newport, Virginia. She survives.