Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Nelson Mandela, 22 years after his release from prison

By Kenneth S. Broun
Twenty-two years ago, on the 11th of February 1990, Nelson Mandela walked out of a South African prison, a free man for the first time in twenty-seven years. He immediately assumed the leadership role that would move South Africa from a system of apartheid to a struggling but viable democracy. No one person, not even Nelson Mandela, was solely responsible for this miracle.

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Idi Amin takes power in Uganda

On January 25, 1971, General Idi Amin took advantage of the absence of President Milton Obote to stage a coup and seize power in Uganda. Amin’s turbulent rule lasted only eight years, but in that time he earned him the nickname the “Butcher of Uganda.”

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Algeria’s televised coup d’état

By Martin Evans
On 11 January 1992 the Algerian President, the white-haired sixty-one year old Chadli Bendjedid, announced live on television that he was standing down as head of state with immediate effect. Nervous and ill at ease, the president read out a brief prepared statement. In it he explained his decision as a necessary one. Why? Because the democratic process which he had put in place two years earlier could no longer guarantee law and order on the streets.

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Frantz Fanon: Third world revolutionary

By Martin Evans
Frantz Fanon died of leukaemia on 6 December 1961 at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, USA where he had sought treatment for his cancer. At Fanon’s request, his body was returned to Algeria and buried with full military honours by the Algerian National Army of Liberation, shortly after the publication of his most influential work, The Wretched of the Earth.

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In your face in Cairo

By Brian K. Barber
I had learned from Kholoud that Aly would be in Cairo this week. So, as soon as I arrived on Monday night I called while walking through Tahrir Square. He picked up but the reception wasn’t good. He said he was also in the Square, that he was headed to drop off his bags, and would call later. I didn’t hear back from him.

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Barnard performs first heart transplant

This Day in World History
For five hours, the thirty-person surgical team worked in an operating room in Cape Town, South Africa. The head surgeon, Dr. Christiaan Barnard, was leading the team into uncharted territory, transplanting the heart of a young woman killed in a car accident into the chest of 55-year-old Louis Washkansky.

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Carter finds King Tut’s tomb

This Day in World History – For years, archeologist Howard Carter had poked and probed in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, hoping to repeat the success he had enjoyed in 1902, when he discovered the tombs of the pharaohs Hapshetsut and Thutmose IV. On November 4, 1922, he discovered his first sign of his greatest success. His crews had been digging among a cluster of ancient stone huts that had housed Egyptian workers thousands of years before. In the morning of Saturday, November 4, Carter found an ancient step.

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Soon facing Iranian nuclear missiles

By Professor Louis René Beres
Admiral Leon “Bud” Edney
General Thomas G. McInerney

For now, the “Arab Spring” and its aftermath still occupy center-stage in the Middle East and North Africa. Nonetheless, from a regional and perhaps even global security perspective, the genuinely core threat to peace and stability remains Iran. Whatever else might determinably shape ongoing transformations of power and authority in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Saudi Arabia, it is apt to pale in urgency beside the steadily expanding prospect of a nuclear Iran.

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Haile Selassie I takes throne of Ethiopia

This Day in World History – On Sunday, November 2, 1930, thirty-eight-year old Ras (Prince) Tafari Makonnen was proclaimed emperor of Ethiopia, taking the name Haile Selassie I, which means “Power of the Trinity.” Though taking place in the twentieth century, the ceremony reached back thousands of years, as Ethiopia’s Menelik dynasty claimed descent from Solomon, ancient king of Israel, and the Queen of Sheba, one of his wives. To prepare for the coronation, seven groups of seven priests gathered in the seven corners of the national cathedral and chanted for seven days and seven nights psalms written by King David. The morning of the coronation, priests chanted and drummers drummed.

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Why should anyone care about Sudan?

2011 Place of the Year

By Andrew S. Natsios
For more than two centuries, Sudan has attracted an unusual level of attention beyond its own borders. This international interest converged in the last decade of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first century as four independent forces met.

First, there is the rebellion in Darfur, which has generated greater international concern than any other recent humanitarian crisis. This long-neglected western region has been intermittently at war since the 1980s and claimed the lives of 300,000 Darfuris in its most recent phase. The rebellion beginning in 2002 led to an ongoing humanitarian emergency, costing Western governments

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Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic History

By Trevor Getz

Abina and the Important Men is an interpretation of the testimony of a young, enslaved woman who won her way to freedom in late nineteenth century West Africa and then prosecuted her former master for illegally enslaving her. October 21 marks the 155th anniversary of the date that she forced a British magistrate and a jury of eleven affluent and powerful men to hear the charges she was making against an influential male land-owner.

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17 October 1961: Fifty years on

By Martin Evans
On 17 October 1961 at 5.30 am 30,000 unarmed Algerians converged on the centre of Paris in the light rain, flooding in from the surrounding shanty towns and poor suburbs – Nanterre, Colombe and Gennevilliers. Mostly made up of young men and women, but also a scattering of older people and some mothers with young children, the demonstration was organised by the National Liberation Front (FLN) which had been engaged in war for Algerian national independence against France since November 1954.

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Ethiopia and the BBC: The politics of development assistance

By Peter Gill
In the course of 17 minutes, Newsnight managed to review six years’ worth of all that had gone wrong in Ethiopia, from post-election violence in 2005, to the intensified anti-insurgency operations in Somali Region after 2007, to more recent opposition complaints that their supporters were being deprived of international development assistance. To emphasise the British aid connection, the film concluded: ‘The purpose of development aid is to help Ethiopia on to its feet, to establish democracy, justice and the rule of law. The evidence we’ve gathered suggests it is failing.’

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A Merciless Place

A Merciless Place is a story lost to history for over two hundred years; a dirty secret of failure, fatal misjudgement and desperate measures which the British Empire chose to forget almost as soon as it was over.

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