In 1795 The Association for Promoting the Discovery of the Interior Parts of Africa appointed Mungo Park to explore the course of the River Niger - it had been believed that the Niger was a tributary of either the river Senegal or Gambia until Major Daniel Houghton, an Irish soldier who had explored west Africa from a base at Goree, on behalf of the Association, discovered it flowed from West to East. Park set out on 22 MAy 1895.
The Association wanted proof of the river's course and to know where it finally emerged. Three current theories were: that it emptied into Lake Chad, that it curved round in a large arc to join the River Zaire, or that it reached the coast at the Oil Rivers.
Find out more about the life of Scots explorer Mungo Park.
Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda ("The Black Messiah") became prime minister of Nyasaland (now Malawi) on 1 February 1963 as leader of the Malawi Congress Party. With the introduction of a new constitution, and the dissolving of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland on 31 December that year, the country was ready for independence. On 6 July 1964 Malawi became a fully independent member of the Commonwealth of Nations and two years later became a republic.
The republic also brought a new constitution and Dr Banda became the country's first president under a one-party state. Opposition parties were aggressively repressed and their leaders detained. By 1971 Banda had been declared president-for-life. During the next twenty years, Malawi became known for its poor human rights record and Banda termed a dictator. In 1993, when he became seriously ill, Banda was Africa's longest ruling leader and was facing public condemnation by Malawi's Catholic bishops and mass demonstrations.
A referendum was held on 14 June 1993 in which the Malawian people were asked whether they wanted to continue with a one-party state or move to a multi-party democracy. The one-party state was overwhelmingly rejected. National elections, considered free and fair by the international community, were held on 17 May 1994, and the United Democratic Front (UDF) won 82 out of 177 seats in the National Assembly. The UDF leader, Elson Bakili Muluzi, arranged a coalition government with the Alliance for Democracy and Dr Banda relinquished rule on 19 May 1993. President Muluzi officially took power two days later.
On 18 May 1291, after a siege of six weeks (starting on 5 April) the last major Latin city in Palestine, fell to the Mamluk army of the Sultan of Egypt. Sultan Al-Ashraf Khalil's army had included seventy-two siege engines and numerous engineers who mined under the walls.
Acre had been the effective capital of the Kingdom of Jerusalem since Jerusalem's fall to the Muslim leader Saladin in 1187. King Henry II and a number of the defenders escaped to Cyprus, but the majority were slaughtered during the siege and in the aftermath. Two hundred Templers retired to their fort at the southern most tip of the city, where they continued to hold out until the 28th, but they too ultimately fell to the Mamluk forces.
Sultan al-Ashaf Khalil took a lesson from the history of the great Mulsim leader Saladin, a hundred odd years before, and systematically destroyed all the Latin towns and ports on the coast of Palestine and Syria to prevent them being used in the future by Christian crusaders.
The fall of Acre, however, ended an era - signaling the end of crusades to liberate the Holy Lands.
On 14 May 1991 Winnie Nomzamo Mandela was sentenced to six years for her 'complicity' in the kidnapping and beating of four youths, one of whom, 14-year-old Stompie Moeketsi Seipei, was later found dead. The actual crime was committed by her 'thuggish' bodyguards, the 'Mandela United Football Club'. Winnie Mandela was released on bail pending an appeal. She would, eventually, only receive a fine for her role in the crime.
The heavy sentence was unexpected since Winnie Mandela was only found guilty of conspiracy to kidnap and accessory after the fact to assault.
On passing sentence Mr Justice Michael Stahl Stegmann said she was an "unblushing and unprincipled liar" and that although she had not been a participant in the kidnapping and beatings, she had shown a "complete absence of compassion for the victims"
When she emerged from court, Winnie Mandela told reporters that she had "been found guilty by the media and went on to thank those people who "not been influenced by the misleading reports we had to face during the past two years."
Find out more about what has happened in African history on 14 May.
Biography of Nelson Mandela
Quotes from Mandela
Quotes on Mandela
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Stanley had been living full time in Britain since 1890, becoming Member of Parliament for Lambeth between 1895 and 1900. He was knighted in 1899.
In April 1904 Stanley contracted pleurisy and by early May it was clear he would soon die. On the evening of 9 May he reportedly told his wife "I have done all my work, I have circumnavigated...I want to be free! I want to go into the woods to be free." On the morning of the 10th, as Big Ben struck six, Stanley died.
Stanley had expected to be buried in Westminster Abbey next to Livingstone, but in the end his coffin was just driven past it to be cremated - the Dean of Westminster, Reverend Joseph Armitage Robinson had ruled against his interment in the Abbey. The granite headstone, in the churchyard at Pirbright, reads "Henry Morton Stanley, Bula Matari, 1841-1904, Africa."
Image Source in Public Domain: The Autobiography of H.M. Stanley, Ed. Dorothy Stanley, London, 1909.
It was only five days after Italian forces under the command of General Pietro Badoglio entered Addis Ababa back in 1936, at the end of the 2nd Italo-Abyssinian War, that Mussolini declared the country part of the Italian Empire. "It is a Fascist empire because it bears the indestructible sign of the will and power of Rome." Abyssinia (as it was known) was joined with Italian Eritrea and Italian Somaliland to form the Africa Orientale Italiana (Italian East Africa, AOI). Haile Selassie fled to Britain where he remained in exile until the second World War gave him the opportunity to return to his people.
Haile Selassie had made an impassioned appeal to the League of Nations on 30 June 1936, which gained great support with the United States and Russia. However, many other League of Nations members, especially Britain and France, continued to recognize the Italian possession of Ethiopia.
The fact that the Allies ultimately fought hard to return independence to Ethiopia was a significant step on the path to African independence. That Italy, like Germany after World War I, had its African Empire taken away, signaled a major change in European attitude towards the continent.
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