This day in history - 5 big events in SA's history that happened on 31 May

This day in history - 5 big events in SA's history that happened on 31 May

- South Africa has many historic dates and we'll be looking at what happened on 31 May throughout our history

- The first black athlete in history won the Comrades

- Former president Jacob Zuma had a helping hand in Tanzanian peace talks

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On the 31st of May history was made in many ways. From black marathon winners during the apartheid to a Zulu king standing up against the British, we take a look at 5 historic events that happened on this day in the past, thanks to South African History Online.

Wednesday, 31 May 1989 - First black athlete to win the Comrades

The Comrades Marathon is easily the most popular and anticipated athletic event in SA. Hopeful athletes from everywhere in the world come to our country to take part in this epic race.

The race takes place over 90 kilometers between Durban and Pietermaritzburg. The first Comrades event happened back in 1921 and only 34 athletes competed. Today thousands of athletes enter the Comrades.

Sam Tshabalala played an important part in history in 1989 when he won the Comrades. He was the first black athlete to win the race. But in 1991 Tshabalala got hurt in an accident and couldn't compete again for some time. When he did take part in the Comrades again, he won 4 silver medals. For his many contributions to the race, Tshabalala was also rewarded with the Platinum Medal in 1998.

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Friday, 31 May 1901 - King Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo stood up to the British

The very brave king of the zulus, Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo, refused to do as the British ordered when they wanted them to fight against the Boer Republic. This was during the 2nd Boer War.

He believed that the war was between the English and Afrikaners and did not want his people involved. Colonel Bottomley warned Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo that under the standing law, he could be sent into banishment if he refused to obey orders, but it was very brave of him to stand up to the British.

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Tuesday, 31 May 1994 - South Africa resumes Commonwealth membership

The Commonwealth is an organisation of countries and most of the countries are part of the British colonies. South Africa withdrew its membership in 1961 when Dr. Verwoerd was the president.

The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, Chief Emeka Anyaouku told journalists that our country will be retaking its Commonwealth membership from the 1st of June 1994.

Saturday, May 31, 2014 - Jacob Zuma helps bring peace to Tanzania

South Africa's then-president Jacob Zuma travelled to Tanzania and attended an emergency summit to try and work out a good solution for the problems Burundi was suffering under. Zuma went to the emergency meeting of the East Africa Community as a special guest. Zuma's invitation was a manifestation of the role SA had in the discussions that led to peace and stability to Burundi after the civil war.

Jacob Zuma

Jacob Zuma (Image Source: Facebook)


Friday, May 31, 1996 - South African journalist wins international award

Former editor and publisher of popular Drum magazine, Jim Bailey, was given the award of Commander of the British Empire (CBE). He was given the award for the role he played in journalism in Africa and the part he played in World War II as an RAF pilot. He was rewarded with the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in 1944.

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