Sunday, September 11, 2005

Significant dates - where were you when?

Today being the anniversary of 9/11, it's got me thinking about the dates of significant world events that I remember where I was at the time.
  • 11 Sep 2001 - 9/11: Newly arrived in Newcastle. The office heard the news via the internet. The news spread around the office like wildfire and the shock was palpable. Most of us left early to go home and watch the events on television.
  • 27 April 1994 - Inauguration of Mandela as president of a democratic South Africa. It was a public holiday and I was in the first year of my MBA. For months leading up to the event, scare stories about massive unrest had been circulating and some people stocked up on essential items like tinned foods and candles. My wife and I sat glued to the television all day in our sitting room in Cape Town. It was exhilarating!
  • 11 Feb 1990 - Nelson Mandela released from prison: My wife and I sat glued to the television all day in our sitting room in Dorking, Surrey. We'd been thinking about returning to South Africa ever since de Klerk had started with his unprecedented dismantling of apartheid. At one stage we both looked at each other and said, virtually in the same words, "It's time to go back". We were back in April.
  • 25 Apr 1986 - Nuclear disaster in Chernobyl: I was at work in Newlands, Cape Town. The country was in turmoil. The world seemed such a dark place and, for a while after Chernoby, it seemed much much darker.
  • 29 Jan 1986 - The Challenger space shuttle explodes: Again, I was at work in Newlands. The space shuttle had gripped the public attention in a way that was reminiscent of the Apollo era of space travel. The images on television were awesomely horrifying.
  • 25 Apr 1974 - The Carnation Revolution in Portugal: Events had been unfolding for weeks and people in Mozambique were stunned by what was going on. I was listening to the radio all day with friends in Maxixe, Mozambique. My friends and I were budding Marxists in those days and we cheered like mad when the news came through.
  • 6 Sep 1966 - Hendrik Verwoerd assassinated: I was at school in Maputo, Mozambique. The headmistress, a stern Afrikaans woman, loved and feared by the pupils, called the school to assemble outside as we ususally did first thing in the morning. Tears streaming down her face, she told us that Verwoerd had been stabbed to death in Cape Town. I didn't know who he was and it puzzled me that we'd been asked to assemble to hear this news but I could tell that it had to be something very important and tragic. I only found out much later that Tsafendas, the assassin, had been born and bred in Mozambique. Incidentally, the biography of Tsafendas makes fascinating reading.

The Guardian's, Century website and the BBC's On This Day website are great places to visit to find out what happened where and when.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh darling, I don't think I was born for most of those. Hang on now, I do remember making sick adolescent jokes at school about the challenger explosion and I think mummy was cooking me breakfast when Chernobyl was being reported.

6:35 pm  
Blogger portuguesa nova said...

Apparently my Portuguese husband was conceived on April 25, 1974. My in-laws were also very happy.

3:00 am  

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