Yovanka Paquete Perdigao goes down memory lane, to remind us how long 37 years – over which Robert Mugabe ruled in Zimbabwe – can be.
1. The Simpsons were created
The Simpsons family. (Photo/Clement127/Flickr).
Homer, Bart, Marge, Lisa, and Maggie from the Simpsons TV show first appeared on our screens in 1987, the same year Robert Mugabe became president. Created by Matt Growning, the Simpsons debuted as shorts on the Tracey Ullman Show on April 19, 1987. Like Robert Mugabe’s presidency, the Simpsons have also broken records of longevity becoming the longest American sitcom. However the similarities stop there as Mugabe’s rule comes to an end, the Simpsons are still on our televisions screens on their 29th season.
2. Maastricht treaty was signed, creating the European Union and then Brexit
The Union Jack and the EU flag hang together. (Photo/Christopher Furlong)
On February 7, 1992, the Maastricht Treaty was signed by the members of the European Community in Maastricht, Netherlands. It created the three pillars structure of the European Union and led to the creation of the Euro. Twenty-four years later, the United Kingdom decided to Brexit from the European Union starting a chaos of uncertainty. Although Mugabe will not be in power to see the fruits of Brexit, he has been in power long enough to witness the United Kingdom and European Union’s contentious relationship.
3. First cloned sheep Dolly was born
Dolly the Sheep. (The Roslin Institute, Creative Commons 2.0).
Dolly, dubbed the world’s famous sheep, was the first mammal cloned from an adult somatic cell. Dolly was born on July 5, 1996 with the help of Keith Campbell, Ian Wilmut and colleagues at the Roslin Institute, part of the University of Edinburgh, and the biotechnology company PPL Therapeutics based near Edinburgh.
4. Harry Potter became the most famous British sorcerer
First Harry Potter novel and J.K. Rowling.
J. K. Rowling published her first novel of her Harry Potter series in 1997, Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, on 26 June 1997. Since then, she has written seven novels chronicling the adventures of the young wizard Harry Potter and friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, and their fight against dark wizard Lord Voldemort. As of May 2013, the books have sold more than 500 million copies worldwide, have been translated into seventy-three languages, and were adapted into an eight-part film series by Warner Bros. Pictures that gathered an estimated a $25 billion. Furthermore, the Harry Potter world expanded considerably in the last few years with exhibitions, plays, theme parks, digital platforms, spin-offs, and etc.
5. September 11 attacks
Smoke pours from the twin towers of the World Trade Center, September 11, 2001. (Photo/Waley Gobetz/Flickr).
On September 11, 2001, a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the terrorist group al-Qaeda targeted two of the World Trade Centre towers in New York, and the Pentagon. The attacks resulted in the death of 2,996 people and 6,000 injured people. It was also the single deadliest incident for firefighters and law enforcement officers in the history of the United States. The United States responded by invading Afghanistan, where al-Qaeda members were believed to reside. It marked the beginning of the “War on Terror” which had ripple effects across the world.
6. Facebook is everywhere
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in the early years. (Photo/Jakob Steinschaden/Flickr).
Facebook was launched on February 4, 2004, by twenty-year-old Mark Zuckerberg and his fellow Harvard classmates and roommates, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes.
Within 24 hours, 1,200 Harvard students had signed up, after one month almost all the undergraduate population had a Facebook profile. Due to the increasing popularity, Facebook became open to any university and high school students, and finally from September 2006 to anyone with a registered email address. Since then, the network has continued to expand and grow in numbers and controversies. However one thing is for sure, Facebook for many people around the world has become indispensable and guilty for accelerating our digital consumption.
7. “Netflix and chill became part of our lexicon
It might be difficult for some to remember a time when Netflix did not exist, but the American entertainment company was first created in 1997. It was only in January 2007, that it launched its streaming video services. Since then binge-watching, Netflix and chill have become a mainstay in our vocabulary, with many of us guilty of too many sleepless nights watching Narcos on repeat.
8. The world saw the First African-American President in the U.S and first Black family in the White House
President Elect Barack Obama goes to give his acceptance speech in Grant Park on November 4, 2008 in Chicago, IL. (Photo/Brooks Kraft Corbis).
Barack Hussein Obama II served as the 44th President of the United States from 2009 to 2017, becoming the first African American to assume the presidency in US history. He previously served in the US Senate representing Illinois from 2005 to 2008 and in the Illinois State Senate from 1997 to 2004. With his wife Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia Obama, they were also the first Black family in the White House.
9. Azonto took the world by storm
Change Your Life Azonto Dance Flash Mo. (Photo/DBlackMuzik).
When in September 2013, Fuse ODG released his single Azonto with vocals from Itz Tiffany, the Azonto fever that had taken over the world was confirmed. Azonto is a dance and music genre from Ghana that took the internet, music charts, and tvs, football pitches by storm. Following Azonto’s popularity, the Azonto Ghana Commission was created to organise Ghana’s most populous arts and entertainment (Azonto,) and also support groups or individuals using the Azonto dance to promote Ghana and messages of unity.
10. Nando’s brought us peri peri chicken
Nando’s, the go-to for many chicken lovers was founded in the same year as Mugabe became president of Zimbabwe. In a Johannesburg suburb, Portuguese-born audio engineer Fernando Duarte took his friend Roberto Brozin to a Portuguese takeaway called Chickenland.
As soon as they both tasted the deliciously marinated chicken in piri piri sauce, they knew they had struck gold. They bought the restaurant for 80,000 rand and renamed the restaurant Nando’s after Duartes first born son and the rest was history! Nando’s has over 1,000 branches in 35 countries and continues to serve its original chicken recipe.
In 2010, Advertising Age magazine named Nando’s as one of the worlds top 30 hottest marketing brands. With Mugabe’s early retirement, Advertising Age magazine might have been on to something. In 2011 Nando’s released to much controversy the Last Dictators advert in South Africa. The advert featured Mugabe reminiscing about happier times with his dictator compadres. Was Nando’s predicting Mugabe’s final days in power and, more importantly, did they fulfill their promise by sending Mugabe his peri peri chicken and fries?
♦Yovanka Paquete Perdigao is the Communications and Events Officer for the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa. She is also a Bissau-Guinean writer interested in conflict-related issues.