On this day in history, September 17

A protester holds a portrait of Mahsa Amini during one of many demonstrations in Iran and elsewhere in support of what Amini stood for. Picture: AFP

A protester holds a portrait of Mahsa Amini during one of many demonstrations in Iran and elsewhere in support of what Amini stood for. Picture: AFP

Published Sep 17, 2023


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

1595 A Dutch fleet arrives at an island in the Indian Ocean. They stay for nearly four months to repair their ships and rest their sick, and name the island Mauritius.

1825 Sir Donald Currie, shipping magnate, politician, philanthropist and donor of the Currie Cups for rugby, cricket, golf and water polo is born in Greenock, Scotland. The Currie Cups were and are the premier domestic trophies in their sporting fields. As an aside, the enormous improvement of communication between the UK and South Africa in the late 1800s was largely due to Currie and his ships of the Union-Castle Line.

1832 About 2 000 slave owners meet in Cape Town to complain about new rules, claiming that the working conditions for slaves at the Cape are already better in many respects than the conditions of factory workers in Britain.

1859 Joshua Norton declares himself “Norton I, Emperor of the United States of America”.

1860 The Alfred Dock in Table Bay is officially opened by 16-year-old Prince Alfred Ernest Albert, second son of Queen Victoria, after whom several places and towns in South Africa are named.

1916 One of the most widely known fighter pilots of all time, German ace Manfred von Richthofen –The Red Baron – makes the first of his 80 kills. In his autobiography, he writes: “I honoured the fallen enemy by placing a stone on his beautiful grave.” Shot down and killed in 1918, he was given a full military funeral by allied troops after crashing behind enemy lines. A superb pilot, he achieved many of his successes later in the war against a numerically superior enemy, who flew aircraft that were, on the whole, better than his own.

1939 The USSR joins Germany’s invasion of Poland, attacking its eastern borders.

1949 The Canadian steamship SS Noronic burns in Toronto Harbour and 118 people die.

1968 Zulu King Cyprian Bhekuzulu KaDinuzulu dies in Nongoma, Zululand. He is succeeded by his son, Goodwill Zwelithini, who dies of Covid-19 in 2021.

1978 The Camp David Accords, aimed at a lasting peace in the Middle East, are signed.

1987 Archbishop Desmond Tutu and religious leaders from Hindu and Muslim communities hold talks with the banned ANC in Zambia.

2004 The Paralympic Games open in Athens, with Amakrokokroko table tennis star Rosabelle Riese leading the team.

2019 Feisty Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg tells US Congress: “I know you are trying but just not hard enough,” in reference to climate change progress.

2022 Protests erupt in Iran and continue the next few days at the treatment of women, after the funeral of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old who died in police custody. The young woman was arrested in Tehran by the Islamic Republic's morality police. Amini was on a visit with her family to the Iranian capital when she was detained on September 13 by the police unit responsible for enforcing Iran's strict dress code for women, including the wearing of the headscarf in public. She was declared dead on September 16 by state television after having spent three days in a coma.