On this day in history, March 20

Colonel Harland Sanders opens his first outlet of the much-loved Kentucky Fried Chicken. Picture: Reuters

Colonel Harland Sanders opens his first outlet of the much-loved Kentucky Fried Chicken. Picture: Reuters

Published Mar 20, 2024


Joburg suburb evacuated and destroyed because of plague, Einstein makes ground-breaking theory of relativity know, roots of the South African Air Force, finger-licking good KFC is born, and men hang for a violent rape in India.

1616 Explorer Walter Raleigh is released after 13 years of being locked up in the Tower of London and told to go seek gold in Guyana.

1703 Akō incident: 46 of the 47 surviving Ronin commit seppuku (ritual suicide) for avenging their master’s death in Edo.

1902 In the British House of Commons, Prime Minister David Lloyd George suggests that there are as many as 30 000 armed Blacks working for the British military in South Africa.

1904 Fietas, Johannesburg, a mixed population area, is evacuated and the area is razed to the ground, owing to bubonic plague.

1915 Albert Einstein publishes his ground-breaking general theory of relativity.

1920 Pierre van Ryneveld and Quintin Brand arrive in Wynberg after the first flight from London to Cape Town. It took a month and a half and leads to the formation of the South African Air Force, the world’s second-oldest.

1930 American fast food restaurant chain KFC is founded by Colonel Harland Sanders in North Corbin, Kentucky.

1942 General Douglas MacArthur vows, “I came through and I shall return” after escaping Japanese-occupied Philippines.

1947 A record 18-ton blue whale is caught and killed in the South Atlantic.

1995 Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II addresses the South African Parliament.

1995 The Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo carries out a sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system during rush hour, killing 12 people and inuring more than 6 200.

2001 The Petrobras 36 Oil Platform, the world’s largest oil rig, sinks with 400 000 US gallons of fuel and crude oil aboard.

2012 Fifty people are killed and 240 injured in a wave of attacks across 10 cities in Iraq.

2019 Four men are arrested in South Korea for secretly filming 1 600 hotel guests and selling the footage via a website.

2020 India hangs four men for the much-publicised 2012 gang rape and murder of woman on a bus in New Delhi that sparked international condemnation. It is the country’s first hanging since 2013.

2020 Smoke from Australia’s worst bushfires has killed more people than the fires – 417 vs 33 according to the Medical Journal of Australia.

2021 Severe one-in-a-hundred-year flooding in Sydney and the surrounding state of New South Wales prompts evacuation orders.

2023 A drought in Somalia may have killed 43 000 people in 2022, half of them children under five, according to new research presented by UNICEF in Mogadishu.

2023 The UN says world has less than a decade to stop catastrophic warming and that it must reduce greenhouse gases by half by 2030, and cease adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by early 2050s.