Travel in South Africa – Kimberley the City of Diamonds

City Hall, Kimberley

City Hall, Kimberley, Northern Cape, South Africa
City Hall, Kimberley, Northern Cape, South Africa | Source
Kimberley, the capital of the Northern Cape Province, South Africa
Kimberley, the capital of the Northern Cape Province, South Africa

Kimberley, the capital of the Northern Cape Province in South Africa

When a traveller doesn't know the history of Kimberley, the capital of South Africa's Northern Cape Province, they will only see a couple of impressive buildings.

Impressive buildings in Kimberley, South Africa

Road Lodge @ Kimberley, Northern Cape, South Africa
Road Lodge @ Kimberley, Northern Cape, South Africa | Source
"World War I memorial in Kimberley" by  Anne97432 @ Wikimedia Commons -
"World War I memorial in Kimberley" by Anne97432 @ Wikimedia Commons - | Source
Kimberley Town Hall
Kimberley Town Hall | Source
Kimberley Boys High School
Kimberley Boys High School | Source
© Martie Coetser @ Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
Kimberley Manor Guesthouse
Kimberley Manor Guesthouse | Source
"Kimberley, Trinity Methodist 1" by Andrew Hall @ Wikimedia Commons -
"Kimberley, Trinity Methodist 1" by Andrew Hall @ Wikimedia Commons - | Source
the NG church in Kimberley by Danita Hohne
the NG church in Kimberley by Danita Hohne | Source

An ignorant traveller may easily miss Kimberley's Big Hole!

© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa

There are actually 4 holes, but only the BIG HOLE (filled with water) can be viewed by tourists -

A Satellite picture of the 4 holes at Kimberley @  Google Maps
A Satellite picture of the 4 holes at Kimberley @ Google Maps | Source

The Big Hole at Kimberley

The Big Hole at Kimberley was dug with picks and shovels between 1871 and 1914 by about 50,000 miners. Its original depth was 240 m (787.402 ft), but reduced to 215 m (705.38 ft). It is 463 metres (1519.03 ft) wide, and has a total surface of 17 hectares (42 acres). Underneath the surface, mining was continued by the De Beers Consolidated Mines to a depth of 1097 meters (3599.08 ft).

2,722 kg (6000.98 pounds) of diamonds were yielded in this mine alone between 1971 and 1914.

However, this is NOT the only enormous open-pit diamond mine in South Africa. Have a look at the size of the Jagersfontein Mine.

The Eureka Diamond

"Eureka Diamond" @ Wikipedia
"Eureka Diamond" @ Wikipedia | Source

The discovery of diamonds in South Africa

It was the year 1867 - 214 years after the first Europeans arrived in South Africa – when Erasmus Jacobs found a shining pebble on the banks of the Orange River. It turned out to be a diamond, later named the Eureka Diamond.

In 1871, the discovery of another large diamond led to the foundation of the Kimberley Mine, and the town of Kimberley.

The impact of the discovery of diamonds -


Apart from copper mined by the British since 1846 in Namaqualand, and since 1852 also in Springbokfontein, westernisation in South Africa was all about agriculture. Farmers, cultivating the land and raising stock, encouraged the establishment of churches, post offices, shops, town halls, schools, railways, etc. And now in 1871, 219 year after the first farmers arrived in South Africa, the discovery of diamonds changed the future of the country. (Not many years later diamonds were also found elsewhere in the country, and also gold.)

The discovery of diamonds at Kimberley led to the first Diamond Rush in the world. From all over the world came fortune seekers, and also weird business people opening saloons where people can buy alcoholic drinks over a counter and gamble to their heart's desire. Prostitutes, too, came from far and near to serve the hard-working miners.

Entrepreneurs like Cecil Rhodes, Charles Rudd, and Barney Barnato came from England and founded the De Beers Consolidated Mines. Besides local men who were, to the sorrow of their parents, not interested in farming, De Beers instigated the migration of thousands of Africans from all over Africa - people who were eager to work for the minimum wages offered to them.

This was the beginning of South Africa’s Mineral Revolution.

https://blinginbabes.wikispaces.com/impact
https://blinginbabes.wikispaces.com/impact
The directors of the De Beers Consolidated Mining Company, 1893 (Cecil John Rhodes on the middle/front)
The directors of the De Beers Consolidated Mining Company, 1893 (Cecil John Rhodes on the middle/front) | Source
DeBeers Mine No.1 Shaft - Kimberley, South Africa
DeBeers Mine No.1 Shaft - Kimberley, South Africa | Source
Kimberley ± 1890-2000
Kimberley ± 1890-2000 | Source
Source

South Africa in the beginning of the 19th century

Republics in South Africa at the beginning of the 19th century: Suid-Afrikaanse Republic [Transvaal] (green), Orange Free State (orange), the Cape Colony (blue), Natalia (red). Picture by JasonAQuest @ Wikipedia
Republics in South Africa at the beginning of the 19th century: Suid-Afrikaanse Republic [Transvaal] (green), Orange Free State (orange), the Cape Colony (blue), Natalia (red). Picture by JasonAQuest @ Wikipedia | Source

Background

In a nutshell: At this stage of South Africa’s history - 1871 - the British had two colonies in South Africa - the Cape Colony (blue on the map), which they took by force from the Dutch in 1795, and the short-lived Boere republic, Natalia (red)

The Boere (farmers) - descendants of the original Dutch farmers - had left the Cape Colony in 1836 to seek peace and independence north of the Orange River. After many horrendous battles with indigenous Africans, and after losing the Republic of Natalia, and after even more horrendous battles, they managed to establish the South African Republic [Transvaal] (green), and the Orange Free State (orange).

But if the Boere reckoned the British were happy with the trend of events, they were wrong. The discovery of diamonds, and almost one-and-a-half-decade later the discovery of gold in Transvaal, made the British even more determined to have it all.

When diamonds were found where Kimberley would become a town, a battle about ownership immediately began. At that stage the region was occupied by the Griqua's - a race that could trace their forefathers to two clans, the Koks and Barendse, The Koks were mainly indigenous Khoikhoi people, and the Barendse were of mixed European descent.

In March 1871, the diamond field claims were resolved in favour of the Khoikhoi leader Nicolaas Waterboer. He immediately petitioned the British for the annexation of his lands to the Cape Colony, and on 27 October 1871 the diamond fields were proclaimed a British territory under the name of Griqualand West. Read more about this HERE.

While 50,000, mainly foreign, miners of the De Beers Group of Companies dug diamonds in Kimberley), and while the Gold Rush in Transvaal attracted even more foreigners and British interests, the Boere tried to keep the republics they have established.

The dust has not yet settled on the umpteenth war between British and Africans and between Boere and Africans, when the British annexed the Suid Afrikaanse Republic. This led to the First Anglo-Boer War, which lasted from 16 December 1880 until 23 March 1881. The Boere won this one. The Orange Free State and Suid Afrikaanse Republic were therefore still Boere republics.

But then came the Second Anglo-Boer War (11 October 1899 - 31 May 1902), and Kimberley became a focus point. Read more about the siege of Kimberley HERE.

The British won the Second Anglo Boer war. Thereafter, in 2010, the entire South Africa would become a British Union until it finally became an independent republic in 1961, unfortunately with an Apartheid policy - a system of racial segregation - that would inspire endless revolts until 1994, when all citizens of all races finally obtained voting rights. Since 1994 South Africa is a democracy still battling with the devastating consequences of colonization, segregation and Apartheid.

All of this history went through my mind while we recently walked through the open air museum at Kimberley.

An open air museum represents Kimberley 1871 to 1914 -

© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
A cheap casket @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa © Martie Coetser
A cheap casket @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa © Martie Coetser
A casket of wood for those who could afford it @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa © Martie Coetser
A casket of wood for those who could afford it @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa © Martie Coetser
A hearse @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa  © Martie Coetser
A hearse @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa © Martie Coetser
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
Inside a saloon (bar) © Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
Inside a saloon (bar) © Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
© Martie Coetser @ The Big Hole, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa

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Comments 37 comments

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 13 months ago from Dallas, Texas

This photo tour of the City of Diamonds was fascinating with its glimpses into the past. I loved the old carriages and the caskets along with the saloon and mining equipment.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 13 months ago from Olympia, WA

Thanks for another tour of your beautiful country. The pics are breathtaking...love the architecture.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 13 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear Martie,

You outdid yourself with the photography in this post...I am intrigued by the saloon, which looks like quite the watering hole.

You are a natural story teller - the history you relay is fascinating.

Excellent work - Love you, mar


annart profile image

annart 13 months ago from SW England

This is all fascinating; love the photos and illustrations. Much of it looks so colonial. My sister frequently goes to Johannesburg to visit someone and she loves South Africa. I've never been but it's great to see it through hubs such as yours. That hole is certainly BIG!

Ann


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 13 months ago from South Africa Author

@ PegCole - History and antiques fascinates me. I can't help it. Thanks for being the first to comment :)


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 13 months ago from Central Florida

Martie, it must have been awesome to walk through the 1800s town in Kimberly. What a way to view history! The modern version of Kimberly is beautiful. I love the architectures.

Thank you for sharing your travels with us. I always learn something new from these articles.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 13 months ago from South Africa Author

Billybuc - I bet by now you know so much of SA you can talk about it as if you were here in person. Take care, dear friend :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 13 months ago from South Africa Author

Thank you so much, marcoujor, for your encouraging comment. I love history, but I do try my best to share only the relevant and as light and entertaining as possible. Please tell me when I sound more like an historian than an entertainer :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 13 months ago from South Africa Author

Annart, colonialism - first by the Dutch and then by the British, lasted for 309 years - while Europeans are living in this country for only 363 years. This gives us a percentage of 85% for colonialism. No wonder white South Africans are being hated so much. The majority of blacks down here will love seeing us all go back to Europe. It is quite a sad situation! Thanks for your comment :)


annart profile image

annart 13 months ago from SW England

Yes, I hear all sorts of stories from my sister; it is indeed a sad situation.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 13 months ago from South Africa Author

Annart, we can but only hope and pray that the mistakes people had made in the past stop repeating themselves in the present. It happens all over the world. Once a government comes into power, they repeat all the wrongs of the previous government, and even more. Why, people just don't learn from history. They keep on repeating it, as if the human race moves in an orbit. What about evolution? Anyway, here is still a lot to appreciate.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 13 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hello Martie - Your area has some of the most fascinating history anywhere. Between the discovery of the diamond fields, and gold to the Boar wars South Africa draws the spotlight of the rewards and consequences of Empirical expansion throughout the globe. So many riches have been withdrawn from your country and not much was left as it dwindles.


Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 13 months ago from Germany

This is a beautiful tour of your country. The photos are awesome. Thanks for sharing all these informations.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean

Totally fascinating! Thanks for the view of the buildings and the historical tidbits. The Big Hole got my attention, a does the casket. Kimberly City is really inviting!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 13 months ago from South Africa Author

Hi, mckbirdbks! The British won the Second Anglo Boer War via the most horrible strategy. They burnt down the farms of the Boere (everything on it) and put all woman and children and men who were too old to make war in concentration camps. The abhorrent conditions in those camps caused the death of 4 177 women, 22 074 children under sixteen and 1 676 men. Blacks who did not fight on the side of the British were put in separate camps, and nobody even counted the deaths among them. It took Afrikaans people about 60 years to forgive the British. Nowadays, in this post Colonialism and post Apartheid era - and only 20 years after the end of Apartheid, black students at universities destroy all monuments and systems that remind them of the past - and this is but only one example of the hatred still boiling in the hearts of the blacks down here. Even the fact that the Cecil John Rhodes Foundation sponsors thousands of poor students a year didn't save his monument at the University of Cape Town. I guess we have to understand the human psyche. Some blacks demand compensation from England. Go figure! Up to 52 million victims supposed to receive a monthly allowance from the Queen!! Yes, SA has an interesting past and present, and a very bleak future. Allegedly the ANC-government hopes to establish communism. Anyway.... thank you for your kind comment :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 13 months ago from South Africa Author

Hi Thelma, I would love to see photo tours like this of Germany. Thanks for reading and commenting :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 13 months ago from South Africa Author

MsDora, I'm so glad you enjoyed this tour of Kimberley :)


drbj profile image

drbj 13 months ago from south Florida

I really enjoyed traveling through Kimberley with you, Martie. Your travelogue account is outstanding and your photos absolutely, positively fabulous.

The Big Hole should be on a list of man-made Wonders of the World. Forgive my French if I note that is a helluva hole! Thanks for this one-of-a-kind travel treat.


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 13 months ago from Victoria, Australia

This was so interesting. My Cornish Grandfather arranged to meet some Cornish brothers and cousins there in about 1901 and they all worked in the mines for a while. My Grandfather was a carpenter. I still have his diary, which was very scant, but he put how much the fares cost him. It was a great adventure for young men. Before coming back to Australia he sailed to Cornwall to visit his parents.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 13 months ago from Southern Illinois

Your photos are beautiful! I always enjoy out journey throughout Africa. Not only is it scenic but a learning lesson. Thank you for sharing. Hugs.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 13 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

Thanks for sharing the interesting information and the fascinating photos, Martie. This hub is both educational and enjoyable!


DDE profile image

DDE 13 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Beautiful photos! I enjoyed reading about SA. I learned more about this part of SA.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 13 months ago from South Africa Author

@ drbj - an effort is in progress to register the Big Hole as a World Heritage Site. But really, I see that big hole as a proof of some human's insatiable hunger for wealth. I'm glad you enjoyed the travelogue of Kimberley :)

@ BlossomSB - How interesting. And to think we were in the middle of the Second Anglo-Boer War in 1901. While the British companies were still feasting on SA's minerals, the South Africans were dying in war zones and concentration camps. The siege of Kimberley lasted quite a while. I have a link to the specific article in the hub. Your grandfather must have experienced that. Thanks for the interesting comment :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 13 months ago from South Africa Author

@ always exploring

@ Alicia

@ DBD

I'm so glad you came along :) Thanks a lot!


vasantha  T k profile image

vasantha T k 13 months ago from Bangalore

Amazing photos, interesting hub, journey through the city of diamonds.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 13 months ago from South Africa Author

vasantha, thanks for the visit :)


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 12 months ago from England

What a great hub! what with the buildings, diamonds the whole journey! I love it, purely because its so different, and somewhere that I have never visited, so great stuff Martie!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 12 months ago from South Africa Author

Hi Nell, good to see you! I'm honestly so glad you liked this hub. Although Colonialism was unjust in many ways, SA would not have grown into the country it is today without British intervention. Thanks for the visit, dear Nell :)


Mr. B 12 months ago

Hi Martie. Thanks for the memory of my trip with the greatest Diamond of them all. Can't wait for next year. Thanks for being my special friend.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 12 months ago from South Africa Author

Dearest Mr B, talking about diamonds - you are my best friend :) So, where are we going next year?


Mr. B 12 months ago

Good question. Lol


Genna East profile image

Genna East 12 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

Hi Martie. Thank you for another fascinating travelogue about South Africa. And what amazing photos. DeBeers is a well-known name in the diamond industry, as well as Kimberley's role. With potential fortunes at stake, the machinations over who owned and controlled what became legendary. This hub is an epic Martie; and the Kimberley open air museum is like taking a walk through time. Thank you!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 12 months ago from South Africa Author

Genna, yes, those founders of De Beers were geared for diamonds, and until today De Beers is still going. I enjoyed the stroll through the 'old Kimberley', but couldn't help but wonder how will the present be perceived by people a hundred years from now? Thanks for the visit, dear Genna :)


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 12 months ago from USA

That hole in the ground was amazing. Too bad they weren't made to fill them all in afterwards. Great photos. Shared on G+


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 12 months ago from South Africa Author

Flourish, I was wondering about the same thing, then someone told me that they make roads with soil and stones. Thanks for sharing on G +.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 2 weeks ago from Jeffersonville PA

Sooooooo, Mr. B - time to answer that interesting question. :)

Where has the time gone - already one year has passed, dear Sista.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 weeks ago from South Africa Author

Dearest marcoujor – you always make me smile! Love you to bits!

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