10th October

1813 Giuseppe Verdi born – he wrote operas, and his most famous songs are as “La donna è mobile, and “Libiamo ne’ lieti calici“.

1971 London Bridge dismantled and rebuilt in Arizona – can you build it out of Lego?

Fiji Day (independence from UK, 1970):

First inhabited by the Lapitas, ancestors of the Polynesians, Fiji was famous for cannibalism, with ‘Eat me!’ being the proper way to address a chief. New boats were rolled over men, crushing them to death, to ensure successful journeys.

The Brits took Fiji in 1874 and brought in Indians to work on the plantations so as not to disrupt native life.

In 1970 when Fiji became independent the Indian population was clearly unwelcome and many left. Try the Cibi or Bole war cry (rugby); weave a tapa cloth; dance a meke dance; make a canoe for a race.

Taiwan National Day (Double Ten Day, anniversary of Wuchang Uprising that led to Chinese Republic being founded)

Taiwan was attached to Asia until sea levels rose about 10,000 years ago. There have been humans there for at least 30,000 years ago, and about 8,000 years ago Austronesians arrived. As the Taiwan Austronesian languages are more diverse than other Austronesian settlements, Taiwan was probably the original home of Austronesians.

The Portuguese named Taiwan Formosa, meaning ‘beautiful’, in 1542. The Dutch and the Spanish arrived in the 16th century too, to establish fortified trading posts, but the the Chinese arrived and booted them out.

In 1895 China were defeated in a war with Japan and Taiwan became part of Japan, but Taiwan declared itself the independent Republic of Formosa. Didn’t work – Japan squashed them.

Japan industrialised Taiwan, with sanitation and education, and ended headhunting, the spoilsports. But the Taiwan natives were treated as second-class citizens. In 1935 Taiwanese culture and language were banned, to encourage people to feel more Japanese.

In WWII Taiwan fought alongside Japan; after WWII any Japanese living there were sent home. China ruled until 1952; one uprising in 1948, now called the 228 Incident, resulted in the Chinese killing thousands of Taiwan people.

In 1949 the Nationalist Chinese government were defeated by the Chinese Communist Party, moved to Taiwan and declared it to be the new Republic of China, bringing about 2 million nationalists, national treasures, gold reserves and foreign currency reserves. Meanwhile Communist China declared itself the People’s Republic of China including Taiwan, and that the Republic of China didn’t exist.

The Republic of China declared martial law in Taiwan to suppress any opposition. About 140,000 people were imprisoned or executed.But US funds and demand for Taiwanese products actually helped the economy, and because of the Cold War the West only recognised Taiwan as the official China until the 1970s.

In 1987 martial law was lifted, and the country slowly became democratic. In 2007 Taiwan decided to be a ‘normal country’ called Taiwan.

Karaoke is very popular, as are bubble tea and milk tea drinks. The national sport is baseball, followed by basketball. Kids will probably love Taiwan’s weird restaurants, like toilet restaurants and Hello Kitty restaurants and Barbie restaurants.

Also today:

  • Cuba Anniversary of the beginning of the War of Independence in 1868 – see 20th May
  • Laos Day of Liberation – see 2nd December
  • Finnish Literature Day (birthday of Aleksis Kivi, who wrote the first novel in Finnish in 1870) – try the Kalevala.
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