On this day in 1994, Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa’s first black president as a result of the country’s first national democratic elections. The human rights activist, who spent 27 years in prison for opposing the government’s policy of racial segregation, became a worldwide beacon of equality, hope and peace, and will long be remembered by future generations as a true people’s hero.
To commemorate the date, Thomas Cook looks at five other moments in history that changed the world for the better – from a whistling mouse to walking on the moon!
USA: 1955 – Rosa Parks Makes a Stand
Or should that be, ‘Rosa Parks takes a seat’? On Dec 1, 1955 a tired Rosa Parks took a seat in the ‘coloured’ section of the bus home from her seamstress job. However, part way into her journey Ms Parks was ordered by the bus driver to give up her seat for a white passenger. Her refusal led to her arrest, which led to a citywide bus boycott headed up by a young Martin Luther King Jr. After 381 days, the Supreme Court ruled that there would be no more segregation on buses, and the Modern Civil Rights Movement was born.
USA: 1928 – The Birth of Mickey Mouse
It’s hard to imagine a world without the magic of Disney. Many childhoods are lived out in the ever-increasing world of Disney characters and stories, and Disney theme parks across the world are known as the dream family holiday destination. ‘Steamboat Willie’ was the simple short film that started the Disney empire, and Walt’s wonderful world has continued to grow ever since, proving to many that, in the words of the man himself, “If you can dream it, you can do it!”
Germany: 1989 – The Fall of the Berlin Wall
Built in 1961 to divide West and East Berlin (and their respective sides of Germany), the Berlin Wall has become known as a symbol of oppression and control, and over 100 people are reported to have died while trying to scale it. After weeks of peaceful protests, a government U-turn in 1989 saw the wall came down – reuniting families and friends, and allowing freedom of movement through Germany once more.
Space: 1969 – Fly Me to the Moon
When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon in 1969 it ignited an enthusiasm for space and space travel worldwide. It’s estimated that over 600 million people watched the landings around the world – not to be sniffed at when there were only a fraction of the TV sets that there are today. Landing on the moon is commonly thought of as one of man’s very greatest achievements throughout history.
Globally: 1991 – Spinning the World Wide Web
Perhaps nothing has changed the way we live our day-to-day lives in a greater way than the internet, which has brought a whole new way to live, work, play, learn and communicate to mankind. From humble beginnings, when British scientist Tim Berners-Lee set up the first ever website on Aug 6, 1991, the internet is now used daily by billions worldwide and in more ways than it’s possible to count – including researching and booking holidays, of course!