On this day, May 21

Reggae artist Bob Marley

Reggae artist Bob Marley

Published May 21, 2023


How she ended up with his penis in her purse; the first Chinese gold miners head this way; Recces take a beating; the man who saved the world; and humans can now legally become compost

1403 Henry of Castile sends envoys to the feared Mongol warlord Timur to discuss an alliance against the Ottomans.

1703 Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe – second only to The Bible in its number of translations – is jailed for six months for seditious libel, during which time he is pilloried three times.

1737 A fierce gale wrecks nine ships in a gale in Table Bay; 208 people die as a result.

1758 Mary Campbell, 10, is abducted in Pennsylvania during the French-Indian War. She is returned 6½ years later.

1792 Japan’s Mount Unzen erupts and a resulting tsunami kills 14 500 people.

1871 Troops invade the Paris Commune – 20 000 communards will die.

1903 The first Chinese labourers leave for the Witwatersrand gold mines.

1904 The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (Fifa) is founded.

1927 Charles Lindbergh makes the first solo, non-stop flight across the Atlantic.

1932 Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.

1936 Sada Abe is arrested wandering around Tokyo with her dead lover’s genitals in her handbag.

1936 London hosts a conference on the protection of elephants and rhinos.

1981 Reggae icon Bob Marley receives a Jamaican state funeral.

1982 British troops land on the Falklands.

1985 A South African special forces team on a clandestine operation is ambushed in northern Angola. Two recces are killed and Captain Wynand du Toit is taken captive.

1996 The Lake Victoria ferry MV Bukoba sinks; nearly 1 000 people die.

2004 Stanislav Petrov gets the World Citizen’s Award for averting nuclear holocaust in the early 1990s when he made a hurried decision not to launch a missile strike on the US in response to what the computers said were incoming missiles. The computers were wrong.

2007 Cutty Sark, the last tea clipper, is badly damaged by fire in London.

2018 A teenager who started a California fire is ordered to pay $36.6 million (R522m).

2019 Nepalese Sherpa Kami Rita sets a new record for summiting Mt Everest – 24 times.

2019 Washington is the first US state to legalise human composting.