On this day in history, October 7

The entrance to the upmarket Steenberg Estate in Tokai, Cape Town. Picture Ian Landsberg

The entrance to the upmarket Steenberg Estate in Tokai, Cape Town. Picture Ian Landsberg

Published Oct 7, 2023


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

1492 Christopher Columbus changes course and misses Florida, landing up on outlying islands. If he hadn’t, he would have been the acknowledged discoverer of mainland America, not Amerigo Vespucci, after whom the continents are named.

1571 Battle of Lepanto: The Holy League of southern European nations destroy the Ottoman fleet off Western Greece. The battle marks the last time that oar-propelled ships do battle, and, more importantly, thwarts Ottoman plans for conquering Europe.

1940 The McCollum memo proposes bringing the US into the war in Europe by provoking the Japanese to attack the US. Funnily enough, Japan did attack the US, which entered the war in Europe.

1965 Charles Linster does 6 006 consecutive push-ups. His record doesn’t last – in 1993 .Charles Servizio manages 46 001 in 24 hours.

1979 Ferrari’s Jody Scheckter becomes the only South African to win the Formula One World Drivers Championship.

1983 Cape Town’s Steenberg Estate, originally Zwaanswyk, is declared a national monument. It has known its share of gutsy women through the years; as a lone widow of 22, Catharina Ras, the first owner of “the Farm below the stone mountain”, boarded a ship just 10 years after the arrival in South Africa of Jan van Riebeeck. She made the perilous journey from Lubeck, on Germany’s Baltic Coast, to the furthest tip of Africa. What she found when she arrived was no land of milk and honey. Instead, it was a fierce, wild place. Twenty years and five husbands later, the fiercely independent Ras convinced Cape Governor Simon van der Stel to grant her the mandate “to cultivate, to plough, to sow and also to possess” a 25-morgen portion of land at the foot of “Steenberg” (Table Mountain) – and thus was born the first farm in the Constantia Valley.

1985 PLO terrorists seize the ill-fated Italian cruise liner, Achille Lauro.

2001 The US invasion of Afghanistan starts with an air assault and covert operations.

2008 An asteroid impacts the Earth over Sudan. It is the first time an asteroid impact is detected before its entry into the atmosphere.

2021 Zanzibar-born writer Abdulrazak Gurnah wins the Nobel Prize for Literature.

2022 The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded jointly to the Belarusian human rights advocate Ales Bialiatski, Russian human rights organisation Memorial, and Ukrainian human rights organisation Center for Civil Liberties.