On this day, April 6

Some of the many thousands of human skulls that littered the killing fields of Rwanda.

Some of the many thousands of human skulls that littered the killing fields of Rwanda.

Published Apr 6, 2024


Cape Town’s beginning, the first modern Olympics, Gandhi ‘shakes’ the British Empire’s foundations, and what caused the Rwandan genocide.

1199 King Richard I (the Lionheart) of England dies of infection from an arrow wound.

1580 One of the largest earthquakes in the history of England, Flanders, and Northern France, takes place.

1652 Dutchman Jan van Riebeeck establishes a resupply camp that becomes Cape Town.

1722 Peter the Great, Tsar of Russia, ends a much-hated beard tax, which was introduced to bring Russian society in line with Western Europe. The police had been allowed to forcibly and publicly shave those who refused to pay the tax, which varied, depending on one’s status.

1874 Gerhardus Cornelis Oosthuizen buys the section of the farm Lang Leegte, on which the main gold reef of the Witwatersrand was discovered, for £100.

1896 The first of the modern Olympic Games begins in Athens.

1900 General Lord Methuen buries Frenchman Combat-General De Villebois-Mareuil, who fought on the side of the Boers with full military honours and 1 500 men of the Loyal North Lancashires form the guard of honour.

1917 The US declares war on Germany, which turns the tide of World War I.

1930 At the end of the Salt March in India, Gandhi raises a lump of mud and salt and declares, “With this, I am shaking the foundations of the British Empire.”

1938 Teflon is invented.

1959 Robert Sobukwe and others leave the ANC to form the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC).

1965 Early Bird, the first commercial communications satellite, is launched.

1966 Recognised by The Guinness Book of Records as the world’s greatest long-distance swimmer, Mihir Sen swims the 55km wide Palk Strait between Sri Lanka and India.

1974 ABBA wins the Eurovision Contest with Waterloo, launching their international career.

1980 Post It Notes (stickies) introduced.

1994 The presidents of Rwanda and Burundi are killed in a plane crash in Rwanda, setting off the slaughter of at least 800 000 Rwandans in a 100-day genocide, when Hutu soldiers and militias slaughtered members of the Tutsi ethnic group.

1994 Rockwell B-1B Lancer bombers break 11 world speed records.

2017 The US fires 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base.