1858 – John Speke names Lake Victoria

A British explorer who, along with his fellow explorer Richard Burton, was among those to search for the source of the Nile, John Hanning Speke was the lucky one who actually found it. In 1856, he and Burton had journeyed to East Africa and worked their way inland looking for evidence of the Nile. They were the first Europeans to sight Lake Tanganyika, but that Burton fell ill.

Pressing on without him, Speke was the first European to find Lake Victoria, and named it in honour of his Queen. He returned to England before Burton, and became famous on the strength of this discovery, but history remembers Burton better (as he was a better writer, a more daring explorer, and a more shameless self-publicist). Speke is remembered in Uganda, one of the countries that the lake’s shores touch, with a mountain named after him.

Referenced in:
Raid on Entebbe — The Mountain Goats

1976 – Air France Flight 139 is hijacked to Entebbe

Air France Flight 139 was carrying 246 passnegers and 12 crew on a routine flight from Athens to Paris when it was hijacked by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the German Revolutionary Cells. They took the flight to Benghazi in Libya, where it refueled (and a single hostage was released) and then on to Entebbe Airport in Uganda the following day – where Idi Amin’s regime was only too happy to give them aid and support. The hostages were moved from the plane to the airport terminal, and in the following week, more than half the remaining hostages were released, leaving 106, most of them Israelis (and a majority of the crew, who would not abandon their responsibility to the hostages).

As diplomatic talks stalled, and Amin permitted additional terrorists to join the hijackers, the Israeli government decided to take decisive action. On July 4, Israeli forces raided the terminal, freeing the majority of the remaining hostages. Four hostages died (including one who had been released and was then in a Ugandan hospital), and one of the Israeli soldiers was also slain. Seven of the eight hijackers and 45 Ugandan soldiers were also killed. The crew memnbers of the Air France flight, who had remained at their posts throughout it all, were decorated as heroes in France.

Referenced in:

Raid on Entebbe — The Mountain Goats
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