31st May – South African History


In 1902 the Treaty of Vereeniging was signed.
This Peace Treaty ended the Second Boer War, which was waged against the British Empire by the South African Republic and the Orange Free State. The two independent Boer Republics surrendered their independence and agreed to swear allegiance to the authority of Edward VI while the British Empire guaranteed them protection of the Dutch language in schools, general amnesty, the maintenance of property rights and a few other predetermined conditions. Interestingly, the Treaty is named after the town Vereeniging even though it was signed at Melrose House, Pretoria. It was signed on 31 May.
In 1910 the Union of South Africa was formed.
The Treaty of Vereeniging also stated that the Boer Republics would eventually be granted self-government status even under British possession. Eight years later, the Union of South Africa was created on 31 May 1910. The Cape Colony, Natal, Transvaal, and Orange Free State together became the Union of South Africa and the united colonies shared a flag. This means that the Union of South Africa initially remained under the British Empire but the Empire could no longer legislate on behalf of South Africa and the Union thus gained self-governing authority. Although not an independent country yet, it was considered equal in status with other dominions like Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
In 1961 the Republic of South Africa was established.
In 1961, the United Kingdom surrendered control of South Africa, and it became an independent state under the government of PW Botha. Queen Elizabeth II thus became the last reigning Queen of our nation. As decided upon by other member states, the Republic of South Africa’s membership to the Commonwealth was revoked on 30 May 1961. The Commonwealth of Nations is an intergovernmental organization that consists of 53 countries that were formerly part of the British Empire. Alongside shared values and equal status, trade with another Commonwealth member has been shown to be higher than with a non-member.
In 1994 South Africa resumed its membership of the Commonwealth of Nations.
On 31 May 1994, in the year that South Africa held their first democratic elections, we rejoined the Commonwealth of Nations. It was exactly 33 years and a day after the British monarch ceased to be the Head of State in South Africa.
Former President Nelson Mandela was delighted and said that the Commonwealth’s decision was ‘a tribute to the momentous changes that have taken place in our country as well as a challenge for South Africa to play its part in the worldwide quest for a peaceful, harmonious and caring world.’
By Lauren van Schalkwyk, Online Content Administrator at Who’s Who


This is the Official Website for South African Military Veterans Organisation of the USA - SAMVOUSA Their ideal is our legacy - Their sacrifice our inspiration At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.

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