On this day in history, September 20

Nobel Peace Prize joint winners Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk. Picture: INL Archives

Nobel Peace Prize joint winners Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk. Picture: INL Archives

Published Sep 20, 2023


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

622 Muhammad and Abu Bakr arrive in Medina.

1187 Saladin begins the Siege of Jerusalem.

1258 Salisbury Cathedral, in England, is inaugurated.

1700 Hendrik Swellengrebel, the only Cape governor to be born at the Cape, is born in Cape Town. Swellendam is named after him and his wife, Helena ten Damme.

1834 The troopship Charlotte is wrecked in Algoa Bay; 97 people drown.

Capetonians turn out in force in front of parliament in protest at plans to allow a convict settlement in the Cape.

1849 The ‘Hell Ship’ Neptune, loaded with convicts, sails into Table Bay. Outraged Capetonians, aided by millionaire Charles Bowery Adderley – after whom a street is named – successfully overturn the British government’s attempt to turn the Cape colony into another penal colony. Governor of the Cape, Sir Harry Smith, forbids the 282 prisoners from leaving the vessel, which is sent on to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania).

1854 British and French troops defeat the Russians at the Battle of Alma, in Crimea.

1861 Settler Henry Francis Fynn, after whom a suburb on the Bluff, is named, dies in Durban.

1879 The telegraph connection between Johannesburg and Cape Town is inaugurated.

1904 Michael Mosoeu Moerane, composer, teacher, pianist and conductor, is born in Matatiele, Eastern Cape. He was the first African BMus graduate in South Africa and remains the most popular Africa choral composer in southern Africa.

1915 A new battalion, the Cape Corps, is formed for action in East Africa.

1989 FW de Klerk is sworn in as the last president of South Africa, replacing the finger-wagging PW Botha. De Klerk begins an era of reform, aimed at ending apartheid. He is succeeded by Nelson Mandela, with whom he shares a Nobel Peace Prize.

2000 The UK’s MI6 Secret Intelligence Service building is attacked with an anti-tank missile.

2001 In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, US president George W Bush puts his nation on a war footing and declares a ‘War on Terror’, thrusting his country into its longest war.

2018 An overloaded ferry capsizes on Lake Victoria, Tanzania, killing at least 207 people, with one man surviving in an air lock for two days.

Teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg.

2019 Students from 185 countries stage the world’s largest protest on climate change culminating in a Manhattan rally led by teenage activist Greta Thunberg.

Frankenstein author Mary Shelley.

2021 A first edition of Mary Shelley's 1818 novel “Frankenstein” sells for $1.17 million, setting a new world record for a printed work by a woman.