On this day in history, October 6

Jason Lewis cycles across an arid landscape during his 13-year odyssey. Picture: wildbounds.com

Jason Lewis cycles across an arid landscape during his 13-year odyssey. Picture: wildbounds.com

Published Oct 6, 2023


Some of the more interesting things that happened on this day.

1600 Euridice, the earliest surviving opera, has its première performance, marking the beginning of the Baroque period.

1654 The directors of the Dutch East India Company propose to Jan van Riebeeck that Hout Bay is suitable to settle Dutch families.

1789 Under protest from the populace, French King Louis XVI is forced to move his residence from Versailles to the Tuileries Palace in Paris.

1878 A British mission to subdue the king of the Marota (Bapedi), Sekhukhune, who is holed up in an impregnable mountain fortress, is abandoned after heavy loss of life.

1899 Following the outbreak of war of the Second Boer War/South African War and the closure of the mines, more than 7 000 black mineworkers leave Johannesburg on their way home to Natal, walking about 56km per day.

1902 The 3 200km railway line from Cape Town to Beira, Mozambique is completed.

1919 Saul Masane, founder member of the Natal Native Congress, secretary general of the ANC and journalist, dies, aged 63.

1927 “The Jazz Singer” is released by Hollywood. It is significant because it is the first feature-length movie with synchronised dialogue. It marked the ascendancy of “talkies” and the end of the silent-film era.

1944 Units of the 1st Czechoslovak Army Corps enter Czechoslovakia during the Battle of the Dukla Pass.

1953 Medical doctor and labour activist Neil Aggett is born in Nanyuki, Kenya. He was the 51st person, and the first white South African, to die in police detention during apartheid. Fellow detainees remember seeing a strong and healthy Aggett diminished to a weak and trembling shell in the last week of his life. He had a 62-hour interrogation session hours before his death, when he allegedly hanged himself with a scarf.

1973 Egypt and Syria attack Israel, beginning the Yom Kippur War, which Israel wins. Egypt loses all of the Sinai Peninsula.

1981 Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin, is murdered at a parade in Cairo. His killers are Islamic extremists, angered by his peace talks with Israel, even though the peace deal had brought about the return of the Sinai Peninsula, which made him a hero in both Egypt and the wider Arab world.

2007 English rock ’n roll musician and window cleaner Jason Lewis returns home, ending a 13-year odyssey that makes him the first person to circumnavigate the Earth under their own power. Leaving London with fellow adventurer Stevie Smith in 1994, he sets a number of unique records. He is first person to cross North America on inline skates (in 1996), pedalled for 111 days to complete the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, with Smith, from mainland Europe to North America by human power (1995). While doing so, he was struck by a drunk driver in Pueblo, Colorado, and spent nine months recovering from two broken legs. He pedalled his boat, Moksha, across the Pacific Ocean and was the first to do so (2000). Lewis had different people accompany him and had to delay the expedition several time to raise funds so he could continue. Having hardly done any of these things before, he cycled, pedalled his boat, skated, kayaked and hiked for 4 833-days (13 years), covering 74 842km. Visiting 900 schools, he gave talks to pupils and involved them in a variety of programmes to promote world citizenship, zero carbon emission travel, and awareness of the effects of consumption habits on the health of the planet. He survived malaria on two occasions, sepsis, a bout of mild schizophrenia, and a crocodile attack near Australia.

2018 An oil tanker collision with a car leaves at least 50 people dead and 100 with serious burns in the DRC.

2019 Ninety-nine Iraqis have died and another 4 000 injured in protests over 5 days against living conditions, unemployment and corruption, according to a human rights group.