The star of Africa cut and polished. Image credit

ZIMSEC O Level History Notes: South Africa 1867 – 1910: The Discovery and Ownership of Diamond Mines at Kimberly

Discovery of Diamonds

  • They were first discovered first in 1867 in the area the Vaal River flows into the Orange River
  • Diamonds were picked by residents of the valley of Vaal, the local Griqua, Kora and Tswana who exchanged them with Cape Colony traders for horses, guns, clothing, brandy and cash
  • The next discovery which was of significance was done in March 1869 when a Griqua herdsman picked a large diamond
  • The news spread like veld fire and the diamond was named the Star of South Africa
  • This resulted in many fortune hunters rushing to enter the area
  • All of them were from Transvaal, Cape Colony and Natal
  • Another discovery also happened in 1869 May at Kipdrift

Ownership of Diamond Mines

  • Nicholas Waterber and his Griqua followers possessed pastoral lands were diamonds were being mined for the first time.
  • However they could not resist the fortune-hunters coming in large numbers
  • The Tlhaping of jantjie, Mankurwane of Tuang and Mothibi of Dikgatlhong and Mahura also owned diamond fields
  • The Rolong under Nchu also claimed ownership of the lands which they argued were an inheritance from their forefathers
  • Jan Bloem claimed ownership of the Kora lands
  • The Orange Free state claimed the field found between Orange and Vaal rivers
  • The land north of the Transvaal was claimed by the Boers and the Cape Colony
  • The ownership issue was later settled in 1871 by a special court
  • Lieutenant-Governor of Natal, Keate ruled in favor of Waterboer who gave his ownership rights under British protection
  • The Orange Free State were given compensation of 90 000 pounds for their loss of the claim by Britain
  • The responsibility of running the claim was put under the Cape Colony and it was done by 1880

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