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Today In History, January 26


Today in history, January 26, we commemorate black heroes and villains, the leaders and rebels, the artists and performers, the scientists and scholars, the diplomats and writers, the athletes, adventurers, and everyday individuals accomplishing extraordinary feats.

The significant milestones of triumphs and tragedies are vividly preserved as part of our shared history.

Today In History, January 26


  • Islamic fundamentalist Mohammed Ahmed al-Mahdi, leading a jihad on Egypt, captures Khartoum from British colonial forces. General George Gordon, the British commander, is decapitated, and al-Mahdi forces out Anglo-Egyptian forces from Sudan, resulting in the destruction of Khartoum and atrocities against its inhabitants.


  • The Cullinan Diamond, the largest gem-quality rough diamond weighing 3,106.75 carats, is discovered in Cullinan, South Africa, on land acquired by the British from the Pedi people in 1879. Named after mine chairman Thomas Cullinan, the diamond is gifted to King Edward II in 1907.

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  • The release of “Pop-Pie a LaMode,” a Popeye cartoon portraying Africans as comical cannibals, reflects stereotypes prevalent in the animation industry.


  • The Cairo Fire erupts in response to anti-European rioting following the killing of 50 Egyptian policemen by British troops, marking a prelude to the Egyptian Revolution in July.


  • Siad Barre, Somalia’s dictator since 1974, flees Mogadishu in a tank amid a collaboration between militant and non-violent groups during the Somali Rebellion. He dies in Nigeria in 1995 without facing accountability for the atrocities under his rule.


  • Tunisia issues an international arrest warrant for former dictator Zine el Abdine Ben Ali, forced to leave the country two days earlier. Interpol follows suit on January 28.


  • A survey of social media reveals South Africans as Africa’s most active Twitter users now X, followed by Kenyans, Nigerians, Egyptians, and Moroccans.


  • Moroccan-made cars contribute to expanding intra-African trade, with Morocco being the leading African source of cars sold on the continent, accounting for 25% of the country’s total exports.


  • DJ Arafat (Ange Didier Houon), Ivorian DJ and singer, is born in Yopougon, Côte d’Ivoire, becoming a prominent figure in Francophone countries before his death in a motorcycle accident at age 33.


  • Paul Pena, Cabo Verdean-descended singer and composer, is born in Hyannis, Massachusetts, leaving a musical legacy despite being blind from congenital glaucoma.


  • Max Gluckman, South African anthropologist, is born in Johannesburg, merging Marxist theory into structural-functionalism to understand human interactions and social changes in Africa.


  • Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, Central African explorer and founder of Brazzaville, is born in Rome, leaving a legacy as a respectful and unarmed explorer in contrast to European conquerors.


  • Bessie Coleman, America’s first African American female pilot, is born. Bessie Coleman becomes America’s first African American female pilot. Despite her groundbreaking achievements, she tragically dies in a plane crash at the age of 34 in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1926.


  • Executive Order 9981 is signed by President Harry Truman, marking a significant step toward ending segregation in the U.S. Armed Forces.


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