Born in 1922, in East Griqualand, Samuel Draai showed an enduring commitment to his country and community. In his early life he served in the South African Navy during the Second World War. Upon returning to South Africa he settled in the community of Sydenham, where he was actively involved in the community for nearly 65 years.
Draai was a member of the Sparks Estate Community Centre management since its inception in 1958. His most significant achievement being the Durban Boys Brigade, which he founded 78 years ago. This social movement provides mentorship and creative activities for young boys in the community.
His passion for youth development was rivaled only by his love for the Comrades Marathon. In 1964 he ran the Comrades Marathon for the first time – albeit unofficially as non-white runners were not allowed to participate – becoming just the second non-white runner to complete the race. He had a Green Comrades number for more than 10 runs.
Sam Draai was recognised by his community for the countless acts of altruism he had shown over the past decades. He was also honoured at a Provincial Community Conference hosted by Premier Zweli Mkhize which awarded Stalwarts of KwaZulu-Natal.
Draai lived in Sydenham until his death in 2015, was a proud grandfather of eight and great grandfather to another eight. At the golden age of 91, he led the Durban Boys Brigade brass band on parades through the streets of Sydenham.