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Western Cape

Langebaan is a town in the Western Cape province of South Africa on the eastern shore of Langebaan Lagoon.

Langebaan is situated 120 km north of Cape Town, just off the R27, about 28km from Vredenburg and 20km from Saldanha Bay. The Lagoon stretches for 17km from Saldanha Bay, past Langebaan to Geelbek in the South. In places it is up to 4km wide.

 

History

The Langebaan Lagoon was formed by the rising and falling of sea levels during pre-historic times. This is unlike most lagoons which form where fresh water rivers enter the sea. As a result, Langebaan Lagoon is a purely salt water lagoon.

 
 

As far back as 500 000 years ago, early Homo sapiens were probably present in the area, living in groups and hunting small game, displacing carnivores, such as lions, from their kills and gathering plant foods. They made fire as protection and for cooking and probably made simple shelters from branches. They probably used animal skins for warmth and clothing. They made wooden and stone tools.

The area is rich in historical events from the first inhabitants, the Khoikhoi and San, to the arrival of the Europeans. The first European to set foot on land was Vasco da Gama at St Helena Bay on the West Coast Peninsula in 1497.

António de Saldanha, after whom the bay is named, did not enter those waters at all. Juris van Spilbergen mistakenly named it in 1601 as Saldanha Bay; he thought that he had reached Cape Town – originally named Agoada de Saldanha. Although the Dutch were the first to claim ownership of the area, the French were frequent visitors.

Countries would claim ownership by planting a post in the ground and formally declaring ownership. One of these ‘posts’ may be seen today near Geelbek claiming the land on behalf of the Dutch East India Company. European settlement was very limited because of the lack of water for 8 months of the year.

Many stirring events have occurred in the region over the centuries including two sea battles and a visit by the Confederate States of America’s, Alabama, in 1863, the most feared warship of its day. Even the 5 islands in the area, which are administered by the West Coast National Park, have a history of their own, including battles for ownership, use as smallpox quarantine hospitals, exploits for guano, sealing centres and other activities.

The French used Schaapeneiland (close to Langebaan beach) as a storage place for whale oil and seal hides, calling it "Isle à la Biche". More recently, the whaling station was situated at Donkergat and is still visible from the town. A reminder of Langebaan's whaling history is the harpoon gun outside the Municipal Buildings.

The town Langebaan was founded in 1922 and used as a whaling station until the 1960s.

Langebaan today

Bird-watchers visit the area to view the over 300 species of birds found in the lagoon waters of the West Coast National Park. The park is most busy during the spring flower season (August to September) when the wild flowers are in bloom. Whales can be spotted during October and November.

The white sand beaches surrounding the clear waters of the Langebaan Lagoon are one of the main attractions of Langebaan. The mild climate and protected waters of the lagoon make Langebaan popular for sailing, kayaking, kitesurfing and fishing, and the town offers numerous holiday facilities for water sport enthusiasts.

To protect its culture as a fishing, holiday and retirement village, the town allows no industries.

Club Mykonos Resort hosts a number of annual events, festivals and exhibitions. Able to accommodate large numbers, the well-known artists are regular performers at this venue. Popular competitions and fund raising events are hosted at the resort.

Large-scale sporting events such as triathlons, the downwind dash, cycling, car gymkhanas and more are held here. A monthly craft market as well as art exhibitions through the year, showcase the talents of local artists. Community events includes the church bazaar and the annual Langebaan Mussel Festival, which takes place on the first weekend of October.

Langebaan, South Africa

Western Cape

Lambert's Bay is a small fishing town in the Western Cape province of South Africa situated 280 kilometres north of Cape Town. It is part of the Cederberg Municipality.

The coast town has been proclaimed 'the Diamond of the West Coast' because of its white beaches, wildlife and lobsters. Although primarily a fishing town it has become a significant tourist attraction on the West Coast due to its moderate all-year climate.

The town also hosts the Crayfish Festival.

 

Birding

  • Bird Island Nature Reserve - The nesting and breeding ground of thousands of Cape Gannets, penguins and other bird species can be reached by walking on a breakwater wall.
Lamberts Bay, South Africa

Kwazulu Natal

Ladysmith is a city in the Uthukela District of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It is 230 kilometres (140 mi) north-west of Durban and 365 kilometres (227 mi) south of Johannesburg. Important industries in the area include food processing, textile and tyre production. Tyres are produced by Dunlop in the nearby town of Steadville.

Ladysmith is the seat for both the Emnambithi-Ladysmith Local Municipality and the Uthukela District Municipality.

 

History

 
 

In 1847 after buying land from the Zulu king Mpande, a number of Boers settled in the area and called it the Republic of Klip River with Andries Spies as their commandant. The republic was annexed by the British in the same year and on 20 June 1850 was proclaimed a township called Windsor. On 11 October 1850 the name was changed to Ladysmith after Juana Maria de los Dolores de Leon Smith also known as "Lady Smith", the Spanish wife of Sir Harry Smith, the Governor of the Cape Colony. Sir Harry Smith was the British general governor of Cape Colony and high commissioner in South Africa from 1847 to 1852.

A fort was built in 1860 to protect the villagers from the Zulu.

 

The Second Boer War

 
 

Battle of Ladysmith

During the Second Boer War British commander Lieutenant General Sir George White made Ladysmith his centre of operations for the protection of Natal against the Boer forces. Starting on 29 October 1899 a number of short lived battles were fought for control of the town, but after suffering heavy casualties the British forces retreated to Ladysmith and the Boer forces did not make use of the opportunity to follow up the attack and take control of the town.

Siege of Ladysmith

Following the Battle of Ladysmith, whilst British forces under Lieutenant General Sir George White regrouped in the town, Boer forces surrounded Ladysmith. The siege lasted 118 days, from 2 November 1899 to 28 February 1900, during the most crucial stage of the war. Approximately 3,000 British soldiers died during the siege.

Relief of Ladysmith

Three attempts by General Sir Redvers Buller to break the siege resulted in defeat for the British forces at the battles of Colenso, Spion Kop and Vaal Krantz. On 6 January 1900 the Boer forces of Commandant-General Piet Joubert attempted to end the siege by taking the town before the British could launch another attempt to break the siege. This led to a battle at Platrand and Wagon Hill south of the town.

Buller finally broke the siege on 28 February 1900 after defeating the Boers by using close cooperation between his infantry and artillery.

Sir Winston Churchill, then a young war correspondent for The Morning Post (London), was present at the Relief of Ladysmith after having been taken prisoner (between Ladysmith and Colenso) and escaping earlier during the war.

Mohandas Gandhi and the stretcher-bearing corps that he established earlier during the war was involved in a number of actions that took place in and around Ladysmith during the Relief.

 

Geography

 
 

Ladysmith is located on the banks of the Klip River ("stone river"), with the central business district and a large part of the residential areas located within the flood basin of the river. It is on the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains, about 26 km from the Van Reenen pass.

Flooding

Since it was established the town has suffered severely from flooding of the Klip River. During the 110 years up to 1997 with the completion of the Qedusizi Dam, 29 serious floods have occurred. Minor flooding occurred almost every year.

The worst flooding in 30 years occurred in 1996 leading to R500 million in damages and the evacuation of 400 families.

Efforts to control the flooding date back to the 1940s. In 1949 the Windsor Dam was completed, but this dam silted up very fast and was not an effective means of flood control.

Climate

Ladysmith has a subtropical highland climate (Cwb, according to the Köppen climate classification), with warm summers and cool, dry winters. It borders on a humid subtropical climate (Cwa). The average annual precipitation is 639 mm (25 in), with most rainfall occurring mainly during summer.

 

Cityscape

Architecture

 

 

The Soofi Mosque on the banks of the Klip River was originally built sometime between 1895 and 1910, but it was greatly extended in the 1960s.

Other building of interest are the Siege Museum, originally built in 1884 as a marketplace and the Town Hall, damaged by Boer artillery during the Second Boer War.

 

Transport

Air

Ladysmith is served by a small airport, (IATA: LAY, ICAO: FALY) is located on the outskirts of town just below Platrand at 28°34′48″S 29°45′10″E.

Rail

 
 

The Danskraal Yard is located on the Free State main line and the Glencoe–Vryheid line and acts as a depot for train marshalling and maintenance as well as rail maintenance.

The passenger station is located some distance away from Danskraal close to the Central Business District.

Road

The N11 links Ladysmith with Bergville and Newcastle, while the R103 provides access to Colenso, KwaZulu-Natal and the N3.

Traffic traveling between Durban and Johannesburg used to pass through Ladysmith up until the late 1980s, but the completion of the N3, bypassing Ladysmith 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) to the west, has caused a dramatic drop in traffic volumes through this town as well as others that are now bypassed.

 

Society and culture

Media

The only sold local newspaper in Ladysmith is the Ladysmith Gazette. The Ladysmith Gazette is just over a century old, and is believed to have been established in 1902. TheLadysmith Gazette is part of the Caxton Group of newspapers. One of two free local newspapers is the Ladysmith Herald. The other free newspaper is the Times of Ladysmith.

Museums, monuments and memorials

The Second Boer War

A large number of the Second Boer War Battlefields around Ladysmith have been preserved as memorial sites. Monuments and memorials to those who died during the battles have been erected at most of them.

Siege museum

Located next to the town hall there is a small museum detailing the battles and history at the time of the Siege. The museum was opened in 1985 and holds around 60,000 documents related to the Siege and Boer War.

Platrand/Wagon Hill
 

Located just south of the town, this area saw action during the Relief of Ladysmith. The Burgher Memorial on Wagon Hill was erected in honour of Boer forces killed during the siege and relief of Ladysmith.

On Platrand these is a memorial to the Imperial Light Horse, the Devonshire Regiment, the Earl of Ava and a number of others.

Castor and Pollux
 
 

Two RML 6.3 inch Howitzers used by the British during the Siege stand in front of the Town Hall.

Mohandas Gandhi statue

A statue of Mohandas Gandhi can be seen at the Lord Vishnu Temple.

Music

Ladysmith is the hometown of Joseph Shabalala, founder of the group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Sport

Thulani "Sugar Boy" Malinga, a champion boxer was born in Ladysmith.

Elmer Symons, Dakar Rally rider who was killed in the 2007 edition while leading the Marathon class.

Military

5 South African Infantry Battalion is based in Ladysmith. A military shooting range is located on the outskirts of the town between the Aerodrome and Platrand.

Ladysmith, South Africa

Mpumalanga

Komatipoort is a town situated at the confluence of the Crocodile and Komati Rivers in Mpumalanga province, South Africa. The town is 8 km from the Crocodile Bridge Gate into the Kruger Park, and just 5 km from the Mozambique border and 65 km from the Swaziland border.

It is a small, quiet town within the Lowveld with some attractive tree lined streets. It is one of the hottest towns in South Africa where temperatures can reach almost 48°C (47.7 °C (117.9 °F) on 12 December 1944) in the height of summer, but also with a perfect winter climate around 24 °C (75 °F).

 

History

'Komati' takes its name from the Komati River whose original native Swazi name is Nkomazi, translated as "river of cows". It is where the Crocodile and Komati Rivers meet to flow through the 'Poort' (mountain pass) through the Lebombo Mountains into Mozambique.

In the 1890s Komatipoort of those days was a wild and uproarious construction camp for the railway being built from Lourenco Marques (modern Maputo). Conditions weren’t the best with the area gripped by a malaria epidemic; it was in the zone called 'fever country'.

Between 1900 and 1902 during the Anglo/Boer War, the town was used as a base by Major F Von Steinaecker and his group known as 'Steinaecker's Horse'. They were a bunch of mercenaries and bushwhackers and were recruited by the British in order to fight Boer guerrillas in the bushveld.

Near Komatipoort is the site where the former Mozambique's President Samora Machel died in a plane crash in the Lebombo mountain range, the natural barrier between South Africa and Mozambique. At the site of the accident stands the Samora Machel Monument.

The Nkomati Accord was signed in Komatipoort in 1984.

Komatipoort, South Africa

Eastern Cape

The Nelson Mandela Metro (including Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and Despatch) is the gateway to the Eastern Cape Region, its well-equipped airport and harbour linking South Africa with other national and international destinations.Known as the "Friendly City", Port Elizabeth is located on the south-eastern coast, 763 km east of Cape Town.

A superb value-for-money holiday base, Port Elizabeth offers a diverse selection of attractions as a family-fun holiday destination including scenic nature trails, historic heritage, magnificent wildlife, cultural experiences and countless water sport activities.Algoa Bay's 40 km of breathtaking coastline boasts a perfect combination of warm water, protected beaches and is complemented by Port Elizabeth's wonderful climate, which has been rated as having the fourth best weather of any coastal city in the world.

 

The area also supports the most diverse array of vegetation types in South Africa as five of the country's seven terrestrial biogeographic areas are represented in the Eastern Cape.


The Bay, which is a favoured draw-card for beach and watersport enthusiasts is fast becoming known as South Africa's watersport capital and offers activity throughout the year, especially wind-surfing and fishing. In fact, Algoa Bay is regarded as one of the best sailing venues in the world, while scuba diving is of world class quality with beautiful reefs, shipwrecks, fish and colourful coral species.

Port Elizabeth, South Africa

North West Province

Lying on the banks of the Mooirivier (which means 'beautiful river' in Afrikaans) Potchefstroom, or Potch as it’s known to locals, is described as a large academic town, bringing to mind a pretty, tree-lined village teeming with students, which is slightly misleading.



Potchefstroom is indeed home to the popular North-West University, formerly known as the Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education, that does have a buzzing student life – the Bult, a series of restaurants and pubs, is testimony to this. It is also home to five tertiary institutions and some 30 schools. This combines with a strong farming economy, the country’s largest chalk factory, one of the largest organ factories in South Africa, and a generous hospitality sector, giving Potchefstroom a rather unique atmosphere, one that is welcome when compared with the frenetic pace of Johannesburg.



Potchefstroom was the first town north of the Vaal River and has a historical legacy that includes the largest oak tree avenue in the southern hemisphere and various national monuments like the old police station building, Heimat building, the magistrate’s office, the old gunpowder house and various churches worth visiting. The Edwardian City Hall, together with that of Krugersdorp, is the oldest existing city hall north of the Vaal River.



The OPM Prozesky bird sanctuary is home to 200 different bird species, Buffelsvlei Wild Animal park is definitely worth a visit, and a monthly art market in the City Council gardens provides interesting purchases. Potchefstroom’s Sanlam Auditorium, part of the university, serves both the city and neighbouring towns with high calibre theatre.

Potchefstroom, South Africa

Western Cape

Knysna (probably from a Khoikhoi word meaning "ferns") is a town with 51,078 inhabitants in the Western Cape Province of South Africa and is part of the Garden Route. It lies 34 degrees south of the equator, and is 72 kilometres east from the town of George on the N2 highway, and 25 kilometres west of Plettenberg Bay on the same road.

 

History

Little is known about the indigenous inhabitants of Knysna, the Khoikhoi. The area east of present-day George was separated by high mountains and deep gorges, making it virtually inaccessible to European travelers.

European settlement

Nevertheless, the first Europeans arrived in the area in 1760, and the farm Melkhoutkraal (literally translating from Afrikaans as 'milk wood kraal’) was established on the eastern shore of the Knysna Lagoon. Stephanus Terblans, the first European farmer to settle in the area, was given a loan permit to farm here in 1870.

Upon moving to Knysna George Rex, a British-born entrepreneur credited as being the founder of Knysna, acquired the loan rights to Melkhoutkraal in 1804 and later, in 1816, to the farm Welbedacht, which he renamed Eastford. He gave 80 acres of Eastford to the Colonial Government, on which the Royal Navy established the township of Melville. Rex’s properties were sold when he passed away in 1839.

In April 1817, the transport brig Emu, belonging to the Cape Town Dockyard, was the first European vessel to enter the Knysna heads. She struck a rock, now known as Emu Rock, and was holed. Her crew ran Emu ashore to prevent her sinking. In late April HMS Podargus arrived to render assistance. After surveying the area, Podargus sailed safely into the Knysna and retrievedEmu '​s cargo.

The next major settler in Knysna was Captain Thomas Henry Duthie, who married Caroline, George Rex’s daughter, and bought a portion of the Uitzigt farm from his father-in-law which Rex had named Belvidere. The construction of a small Norman-style church was commissioned by Duthie on his property, and was consecrated in 1855. The settlement’s population grew slowly, and Englishmen such as Henry Barrington and Lt. Col. John Sutherland, who established the settlement of Newhaven on a portion of purchased land, settled in the area. At the time, Knysna was a field cornetcy of Plettenberg Bay within the Magisterial Division of George. In 1858, Knysna became a separate Magisterial Division, new stores and accommodation facilities were opened, and Knysna became the new commercial centre of the region.

On their way to New Zealand, the Thesen family who were travelling from Norway fancied the little hamlet of Knysna so much that they decided to stay, bringing with them their knowledge of commerce and sailing. Soon, timber was being exported to the Cape from the vast areas of forest surrounding Knysna, and a steam sawmill and small shipyard were established. Later, these were relocated to Paarden Island, later known as Thesen’s Island.

 

Millwood Gold Rush

Amalgamation and timber industry

In 1878, a very important discovery was made in the area. A gold nugget was found in the Karatara River, near Ruigtevlei. Soon fortune hunters from all over the world arrived at the Millwood Forest in search of gold, and Millwood grew into a bustling town. Millwood was declared a gold field, the first in South Africa. However, soon not enough gold was recovered to sustain a growing town, and the mining industry in the area collapsed. Some miners relocated to Knysna, bringing their little homes with them. One of the houses, known as ‘Millwood House’, now functions as a museum.

By 1880 over 1000 people had settled in Knysna. In 1882, the settlements of Newhaven, Melville and the “wedge” of land between the two villages were amalgamated to form the municipality of ‘The Knysna’, named after the Knysna River.

Knysna’s timber industry peaked when George Parkes arrived from Britain and saw the opportunity to use the hardwoods of the Knysna Forest for export to elsewhere in the country, and even overseas. He established the Knysna Forest Company, later renamed Geo. Parkes and Sons Ltd., which is still trading to this day.

 

Geography

Climate

The town is primarily built on the northern shore of a large warm-water estuary, known as the Knysna Lagoon, which is fed by the Knysna River. The estuary opens to the ocean after passing between two large headlands. These are popularly known as "The Heads", and have become infamous due to the loss of boats and fishermen passing through their treacherous and unpredictable waters. Near them are geological formations, known locally as "The Map Stones." To the north of Knysna, Afro-Montane or temperate rainforest covers the hilly terrain for 20 km until changing to fynbos or macchia high up in the Outeniqua Mountains.

Knysna has an oceanic climate (Cfb in the Köppen climate classification). Summers are hot and winters mild to chilly. During the summer, the average maximum temperature reaches about 25°C and rarely goes above 30°C. The average maximum temperature during the winter months ranges in the area of 16°C to 17°C. Knysna has one of the richest rainfall percentages in South Africa with the wettest time of year being between October and December. Knysna stays green in all seasons, and its temperate climate makes it a tourist destination all year round.

 

Tourism

The town is a popular destination for both tourists and senior citizens entering retirement, especially among the British and former expatriates due to the year-round warm climate. Recently, the town has also become a preferred destination among golfers, as the town boasts several world class golf courses including Pezula Golf Course, Simola Golf Course and the well established Knysna Golf Course situated on the lagoon. It is situated near the towns of Plettenberg Bay and George, where there is an airport. Knysna is also home to Mitchell's Brewery.

Annual events

Knysna hosts a variety of events annually, which draw local and international visitors alike. Such events include the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival in late June and/or early July; the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras at the end of April and/or beginning of May; the Gastronomica lifestyle festival in September, which promotes healthy eating and organic principles; and the Rastafarian Earth Festival held at the end of July, celebrating Rastafarian religion, culture and lifestyle.Annual events

Knysna Oyster Festival

The Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival, held annually in late June/early July, is the town's biggest event. The duration of the festival is ten days, first held in 1983. Oysters, the festival's namesake, are a large component, and approximately 200 000 are consumed over the 10-day period. Many sporting activities take place too, such as rugby, golf, bowls, squash, cycling and marathons. The Knysna Forest Marathon and Half Marathon, as well as the Rotary Cycle Tour draw many a sporting enthusiast to the town.

Knysna, South Africa

Kwazulu Natal

The town of Richards Bay lies at the sea edge of an ancient floodplain, almost halfway between Durban and Kosi Bay and forms the tourist gateway to Zululand and Maputaland.

 

Richards Bay began its life as a makeshift harbour, set up by Sir Frederick Richards, after whom it is also named, during the Anglo-Boer War of 1879. For many years, the town was little more than a sleepy fishing town until a hydrographic survey revealed that Richards Bay had even greater development potential than Durban. However, the transformation of Richards Bay into the country’s largest harbour and the world’s largest coal terminal only happened in 1976.

 

Despite this, Richards Bay has some of the most spectacular wetland scenery and unspoilt beaches on the north coast of KwaZulu Natal. The Zululand Birding Route includes Richards Bay Harbour and the Game Reserve, known also as New Mouth, on its route. This part of the route covers sandbanks, mud flats, extensive mangroves, freshwater pans and forest areas and bird watchers can spot a number of rarities such as the cuckoo hawk and pygmy goose. New Mouth features a number of aquatic birds as well as hippos and crocodiles.



Richards Bay is also fairly close to Gauteng and serves as a sea destination for many who want to escape the city life. It is a vibrant town that now actively markets a new concept in tourism - Industrial tourism. Groups in town for business are able to visit industrial plants, mines and other operations, particularly relevant for Richards Bay as some R1-billion is to be spent on expanding the export capacity of the harbour to 92 million tons of coal by 2008.



Richards Bay has excellent recreational facilities and visitors can enjoy art galleries, fishing, beachcombing, bird watching, surfing, swimming, canoeing as well as some wonderful drives in and around Richards Bay. One such example is inland from Gingindlovu to Eshowe, via the Nkwalini Valley to Empangeni - a gorgeous drive.

Richards Bay, South Africa

North West Province

Two of the world’s largest platinum mines lie just outside Rustenburg, earning it the nickname ‘Platinum City’, which is hardly a fair description of the city that started out as little more than a church and farming community centre, named as a ‘place of rest’ that still manages to retain its small town atmosphere.

 

Rustenburg is one of the oldest towns in this part of the world. It lies surrounded by the Magaliesberg mountain range, its streets lined with the ubiquitous jacaranda tree. It’s a pretty little town, despite being a city, and there is an element of sluggishness to Rustenburg that makes it so attractive, lying as it does only 112 kilometres from Johannesburg and not far from the Sun City complex.


The temperature here is normally about 4 degrees warmer than Gauteng; it’s malaria free, with access to a number of game parks, including the Rustenburg Nature Reserve and the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, and relatively free of crime, making it an attractive option for visitors.


Other than game viewing, one can enjoy the Rustenburg Ramble – a meander that takes in craft galleries, farm stalls and places to eat; the Kgaswane Mountain Reserve just outside Rustenburg; the Royal Bafokeng Sports Place, one of the 2010 Fifa World Cup stadiums; and the Waterfall Mall, if shopping is necessary.


If you are an avid historian there are many places within the city to visit. The Rustenburg Museum, in the Town Hall; the Anglican Church, built in 1871; and the Dutch Reformed Church, to name but a few.

Rustenburg, South Africa

Northern Cape

Kimberley is the capital of the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. It is located approximately 110 km east of the confluence of the Vaal and Orange Rivers. The city has considerable historical significance due to its diamond mining past and the siege during the Second Boer War. Notable personalities such as Cecil Rhodes and Barney Barnato made their fortunes here, and the roots of the De Beers company can also be traced to the early days of the mining town.

 

History

Discovery of Diamonds

In 1866, Erasmus Jacobs found a small brilliant pebble on the banks of the Orange River, on the farm De Kalk leased from local Griquas, near Hopetown, which was his father's farm. He showed the pebble to his father who sold it. The pebble was purchased from Jacobs by Schalk van Niekerk, who later sold it. It proved to be a 21.25 carat (4.25 g) diamond, and became known as the Eureka. Three years later Schalk van Niekerk sold another diamond also found in the De Kalk (29°3′S 23°58′E) vicinity, the Star of South Africa for £11,200. The second diamond was promptly resold in the London market for £25,000.

The Cape ColonyTransvaalOrange Free State and the Griqua leader Nikolaas Waterboer all laid claim to the diamond fields. The Free State Boers in particular wanted the area as it lay inside the natural borders created by Orange and Vaal Rivers. Following the mediation that was overseen by the governor of Natal, the Keate Award went in favour of Waterboer, who placed himself under British protection. Consequently, the territory known as Griqualand West was proclaimed on 27 October 1871.In 1869, an even larger 83.50 carat (16.7 g) diamond was found on the slopes of Colesberg Kopje on the farm Vooruitzigt belonging to the De Beers brothers. Henry Richard Giddy recounted how Esau Damoense (or Damon), the cook for prospector Fleetwood Rawstone's "Red Cap Party", made the discovery on Colesberg Kopje after he was sent there to dig as punishment. Rawstorne took the news to the nearby diggings of the De Beer brothers — his arrival there sparking off the famous "New Rush" which, as historian Brian Roberts puts it, was practically a stampede. Within a month 800 claims were cut into the hillock which were worked frenetically by two to three thousand men. As the land was lowered so the hillock became a mine – in time, the world renowned Kimberley Mine.

Naming the place: from Vooruitzigt to New Rush to Kimberley

Colonial Commissioners arrived in New Rush on 17 November 1871 to exercise authority over the territory on behalf of the Cape Governor. Digger objections and minor riots led to Governor Barkly's visit to New Rush in September the following year, when he revealed a plan instead to have Griqualand West proclaimed a Crown Colony. Richard Southey would arrive as Lieutenant-Governor of the intended Crown Colony in January 1873. Months passed however without any sign of the proclamation or of the promised new constitution and provision for representative government. The delay was in London where Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lord Kimberley, insisted that before electoral divisions could be defined, the places had to receive "decent and intelligible names. His Lordship declined to be in any way connected with such a vulgarism as New Rush and as for the Dutch name, Vooruitzigt … he could neither spell nor pronounce it." The matter was passed to Southey who gave it to his Colonial Secretary J.B. Currey. Roberts writes that "when it came to renaming New Rush, [Currey] proved himself a worthy diplomat. He made quite sure that Lord Kimberley would be able both to spell and pronounce the name of the main electoral division by, as he says, calling it 'after His Lordship'." New Rush became Kimberley, by Proclamation dated 5 July 1873. Digger sentiment was expressed in an editorial in the Diamond Field newspaper when it stated "we went to sleep in New Rush and waked up in Kimberley, and so our dream was gone."

Following agreement by the British government on compensation to the Orange Free State for its competing land claims, Griqualand West was annexed to the Cape Colony in 1877. The Cape Prime Minister John Molteno initially had serious doubts about annexing the heavily indebted region, but, after striking a deal with the Home Government and receiving assurances that the local population would be consulted in the process, he passed the Griqualand West Annexation Act on 27 July 1877.

The Big Hole and other mines

As miners arrived in their thousands the Hill disappeared and subsequently became known as the Big Hole or, more formally, Kimberley Mine. From mid-July 1871 to 1914, 50,000 miners dug the hole with picks and shovels, yielding 2,722 kg of diamonds. The Big Hole has a surface of 17 hectares (42 acres) and is 463 metres wide. It was excavated to a depth of 240 m, but then partially infilled with debris reducing its depth to about 215 m; since then it has accumulated water to a depth of 40 m leaving 175 m visible. Beneath the surface, the Kimberley Mine underneath the Big Hole was mined to a depth of 1097 metres. A popular local myth claims that it is the largest hand-dug hole on the world, however Jagersfontein Mine appears to hold that record. The Big Hole is the principal feature of a May 2004 submission which placed "Kimberley Mines and associated early industries" on UNESCO's World Heritage Tentative Lists.

By 1873 Kimberley was the second largest town in South Africa, having an approximate population of 40,000.

Role and influence of De Beers

Very quickly, Kimberley became the largest city in the area, partly due to a massive African migration to the area from all over the continent. The immigrants were accepted with open arms, because the De Beers company was in search of cheap labour to help run the mines. Another group drawn to the city for money was prostitutes, from a wide variety of ethnicities who could be found in bars and saloons. It was praised as a city of limitless opportunity. The various smaller mining companies were amalgamated by Cecil Rhodes and Charles Rudd into De Beers, and The Kimberley under Barney Barnato. In 1888, the two companies merged to form De Beers Consolidated Mines, which to this day today still retains a monopoly over the world's diamond market.

Five big holes were dug into the earth following the kimberlite pipes, which are named after the town. Kimberlite is a diamond-bearing blue ground that sits below a yellow colored soil. The largest, The Kimberley mine or "Big Hole" covering 170,000 square metres (42 acres), reached a depth of 240 metres (790 ft) and yielded three tons of diamonds. The mine was closed in 1914, while three of the holes –Dutoitspan, Wesselton and Bultfontein – closed down in 2005.

 

Second Boer War

City of Kimberley

On 14 October 1899, Kimberley was besieged at the beginning of the Second Boer War. The British forces trying to relieve the siege suffered heavy losses. The siege was only lifted on 15 February 1900, but the war continued until May 1902. By that time, the British had built a concentration camp at Kimberley to house Boer women and children.

The hitherto separately administered Boroughs of Kimberley and Beaconsfield amalgamated as the City of Kimberley in 1912.

Kimberley under Apartheid

Although a considerable degree of urban segregation already existed, one of the most significant impacts of Apartheid on the city of Kimberley was the implementation of the Group Areas Act. Communities were divided according to legislated racial categories, namely European (White), Native (Black), Coloured and Indian – now legally separated by the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act. Individual families could be split up to three ways (based on such notorious measures as the 'pencil test') and mixed communities were either completely relocated (as in Malay Camp – although those clearances began before Apartheid as such) or were selectively cleared (as in Greenpoint which became a ‘Coloured’ Group Area, its erstwhile African and other residents being removed to other parts of town). Residential segregation was thus enforced in a process which saw the creation of new townships at the northern and north-eastern edges of the expanding city. Institutions that were hard hit by the Group Areas Act, Bantu Education and other Acts included churches (such as the Bean Street Methodist Church) and schools (some, such as William Pescod and Perseverance School, moved while the Gore Browne (Native) Training School was closed down). Other legislation restricted the movement of Africans and some public places became ‘Europeans Only’ preserves in terms of the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act. The Native Laws Amendment Act sought to cleave church communities along racial lines – a law rejected on behalf of all Anglicans in South Africa by Archbishop Clayton in 1957 (in terms of which this aspect of apartheid was never completely implemented in churches such as Kimberley’s St Cyprian’s Cathedral).

Resistance to apartheid in Kimberley was mounted as early as mid-1952 as part of the Defiance Campaign. Dr Arthur Letele put together a group of volunteers to defy the segregation laws by occupying 'Europeans Only’ benches at Kimberley Railway Station – which led to arrest and imprisonment. Later in the year, the Mayibuye Uprising in Kimberley, on 8 November 1952, revolved around the poor quality of beer served in the Beer Hall. The fracas resulted in shootings and a subsequent mass funeral on 12 November 1952 at Kimberley’s West End Cemetery. Detained following the massacre were alleged ‘ring-leaders’ Dr Letele, Sam Phakedi, Pepys Madibane, Olehile Sehume, Alexander Nkoane, Daniel Chabalala and David Mpiwa. Archdeacon Wade of St Matthew’s Church, as a witness at the subsequent inquiry, placed the blame squarely on the policy of apartheid – including poor housing, lighting and public transport, together with "unfulfilled promises" – which he said "brought about the conditions which led to the riots."

A later generation of anti-apartheid activists based in Kimberley included Phakamile Mabija and two post-apartheid provincial premiers, Manne Dipico and Dipuo Peters.

Other prominent figures of the struggle against apartheid who had Kimberley connections include Robert Sobukwe, founder of the Pan Africanist Congress, who was banished (placed under house arrest) in Kimberley after his release from Robben Island in 1969. He died in the city in 1978.

Benny Alexander (1955–2010), who later changed his name to Khoisan X, and was General Secretary of the Pan Africanist Congress and of the Pan-Africanist Movement from 1989, was born and grew up in Kimberley. Another leading figure in Coloured politics in the apartheid era was Sonny Leon.

Post Apartheid

The Northern Cape Province became a political fact in 1994, with Kimberley as its capital. Some quasi provincial infrastructure was in place from the 1940s, but in the post-1994 period Kimberley underwent considerable development as administrative departments were set up and housed for the governance of the new province. A Northern Cape Legislature was designed and situated to bridge the formerly divided city. The Kimberley City Council of the renamed Sol Plaatje Local Municipality was enlarged. A new Coat of Arms and Motto for the city were ushered in.

With the abolition of apartheid previously ‘whites only’ institutions such as schools became accessible to all, as did suburbs previously segregated by the Group Areas Act. In practice this process has been one of upward mobility by those who could afford the more costly options, while by far the majority of Black people remain in the townships where poverty levels are high.

Major township residential developments, with 'RDP housing', were implemented – not without criticism concerning quality. There has been an increase in Kimberley’s population, urbanization being spurred on in part by the abolition of the Influx Control Act.

Also added to the city is the settlement of Platfontein created when the !Xun and Khwe community formerly of Schmidtsdrift and originally from Angola/Namibia acquired the land in 1996. Most of the community had moved to the new township by the end of 2003.

In 1998 the Kimberley Comprehensive Urban Plan estimated that Kimberley had 210,800 people representing 46,207 households living in the city.

By 2008 estimates were in the region of 250,000 inhabitants.

Name changes

The shifts from frontier farm names to digger camp names to the established names of the towns of Kimberley and Beaconsfield – which duly amalgamated in 1912 – are outlined above. The only traces of any precolonial settlement within the city's boundaries are scatters of Stone Age artefacts and there is no record of what the place/s might have been called before the first nineteenth century frontier overlay of farm names. It lay beyond the areas occupied by Tswana people in the precolonial period. Sites such as the nearby Wildebeest Kuil testify to a Khoe–San history dating up into the nineteenth century.

In the post-1994 era the Kimberley City Council was renamed the Sol Plaatje Local Municipality after the area it served was expanded to include surrounding towns and villages, most notably Ritchie. Sol Plaatje, the prominent writer and activist, lived for much of his life in Kimberley. Similarly the erstwhile Diamantveld District Council became the Frances Baard District Municipality, with reference to the trade unionist, Frances Baard, who was born in Greenpoint, Kimberley.

 

Economy: Kimberley’s changing commercial fortunes

Kimberley was the initial hub of industrialisation in South Africa in the late nineteenth century, which transformed the country’s agrarian economy into one more dependent on its mineral wealth. A key feature of the new economic arrangement was migrant labour, with the demand for African labour in the mines of Kimberley (and later on the Gold Fields) drawing workers in growing numbers from throughout the subcontinent. The labour compound system developed in Kimberley from the 1880s was later replicated on the gold mines and elsewhere.

The city housed South Africa's first stock exchange, the Kimberley Royal Stock Exchange, which opened on 2 February 1881.

The rising importance of Kimberley led to one of the earliest South African and International Exhibitions to be staged in Kimberley in 1892. It was opened by Sir Henry Loch, the then Governor of the Cape of Good Hope on 8 September. It presented exhibits of art, an exhibition of paintings from the royal collection of Queen Victoria and mining machinery and implements amongst other items. The exhibition aroused considerable interest at international level, which resulted in a competition for display space. On 2 September 1882, Kimberley became the first town in the southern hemisphere to install electric street lighting.

South Africa's first school of mines was opened here in 1896 and later relocated to Johannesburg, becoming the core of the University of the Witwatersrand. A Pretoria campus later became the University of Pretoria. In fact the first two years were attended at colleges elsewhere, in Cape Town, Grahamstown or Stellenbosch, the third year in Kimberley and the fourth year in Johannesburg. Buildings were constructed against a total cost of 9,000 pounds with De Beers contributing on a pound for pound basis.

 

Transport

Aviation, Kimberley Airport and air transport

South Africa's first school of aviation, to train pilots for the proposed South African Aviation Corps (SAAC), was established in Kimberley in 1913. Known as Paterson's Aviation Syndicate School of Flying, it is commemorated in the Pioneers of Aviation Museum (and replica of the first Compton Patterson Biplane preserved there), situated near to Kimberley airport. In the 1930s Kimberley boasted the best night-landing facilities on the continent of Africa. A major air rally was hosted there in 1934. In the war years Kimberley Airport was commandeered by the Union Defence Force and run by the 21 Flying School for the training of fighter pilots.

Today Kimberley Airport (IATA: KIM, ICAO: FAKM) services the area, with regular scheduled flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Railways

Work on connecting Kimberley by rail to the cities along the Cape Colony's coastline began in 1872, under the management of the Cape Government Railways. The railway line from Cape Town to Kimberley was completed in 1885, accelerating the transport of both passengers and goods. The railway connected Kimberley with cheaper sources of grain and other products, as well as supplies of coal, so that one of its local impacts was to undercut (mainly African) trade in fresh produce and firewood in Kimberley’s hinterland. Another footnote to railway history is its role in the initial rapid spread of the Spanish Influenza epidemic in 1918.

The railway reticulation eventually would link Kimberley with Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg, Durban and Bloemfontein. The major junction at De Aar in the Karoo linked early twentieth century lines to Upington (later to Namibia) and to Calvinia. From the 1990s there was a decline in the use of the railways.

  • Today passenger train services to and from Kimberley are provided by Spoornet's Shosholoza Meyl, with connections south to Cape Town and Port Elizabeth and north to Johannesburg. Luxury railway experiences are provided on the main north-south line by the Blue Train and Rovos Rail.

Roads

Wagon and coach routes were developed rapidly as the rush for the Diamond Fields gathered momentum. Two of the major routes were from the Cape and from Port Elizabeth, the nearest maritime port at the time. Contemporary accounts of the 1870s describe the appalling condition of some of the roads and decry the absence of bridges. From the mid-1880s the route through Kimberley and Mafeking (now Mahikeng) became the main axis of British colonial penetration and it was from Kimberley, along that route, that the Pioneer Column for the settlement of Rhodesia set forth in 1890. Today, however, the central arterial route to the north, the N1 from the Cape to Johannesburg, goes via Bloemfontein, not Kimberley.

  • Kimberley is located at the intersection of the N12 and N8 national roads.

 

Kimberley today

Today, Kimberley is the seat of the Provincial Legislature for the Northern Cape and the Provincial Administration. It services the mining and agricultural sectors of the region.

 

Tourism

The city projects itself as a significant tourist destination, the ‘City that Sparkles’, boasting a diversity of museums and visitor attractions. It is also a gateway to other Northern Cape destinations including the Mokala National Park, nature reserves and numerous game farms or hunting lodges, as well as historic sites of the region.

Conference-hosting

Kimberley has hosted significant meetings and conferences, developing a major venue, the Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre, and other conference hosting facilities. Recent gatherings have included the founding meeting of the Kimberley Process (2000) and a follow-up meeting of this organisation in 2013, and the International Indigenous Peoples Summit on Sustainable Development (2002).

Becoming a university city

The Sol Plaatje University, due to open its doors in 2014, is expected "to inject new life and purpose into this historic mining city”

 

Demography

According to the 2011 census, the population of Kimberley "proper" was 96,977, while the townships Galeshewe and Roodepan had populations of 107,920 and 20,263 respectively. This gives the urban area a total population of 225,160. Of this population, 63.1% identified themselves as "Black African", 26.8% as "Coloured", 8.0% as "White" and 1.2% as "Indian or Asian". 43.2% of the population spoke Afrikaans as their first language, 35.8% spoke Setswana, 8.7% spoke English, 6.0% spoke isiXhosa and 2.7% spoke Sesotho.

 

Landscapes, urban and rural

Kimberley is set in a relatively flat landscape with no prominent topographic features within the urban limits. The only "hills" are debris dumps generated by more than a century of diamond mining. From the 1990s these were being recycled and poured back into De Beers Mine (by 2010 it was filled to within a few tens of metres of the surface). Certain of the mine dumps, in the vicinity of the Big Hole, have been proclaimed as heritage features and are to be preserved as part of the historic industrial landscape of Kimberley.

The surrounding rural landscape, not more than a few minutes’ drive from any part of the city, consists of relatively flat plains dotted with hills, mainly outcropping basement rock (andesite) to the north and north west, or Karoo age dolerite to the south and east. Shallow pans formed in the plains.


Government, local and provincial

One of Kimberley’s famous features is Kamfers Dam, a large pan north of the city, which is an important wetland supporting a breeding colony of Lesser Flamingos. Conservation initiatives in the area aim to bring people from the city in touch with its wildlife. In 2012 rising water levels flooded the artificial island built to enhance flamingo breeding, while in December 2013 a local outbreak of avian botulism bacteria resulted in the deaths of hundreds of birds. The island has since re-emerged.

The administration of the Crown Colony of Griqualand West (from 1873) was conducted from Government Buildings in Kimberley up until the annexation of the Colony to the Cape in 1880. At the level of local government, separate Borough Councils operated in Kimberley and Beaconsfield up to the time of their amalgamation as the City of Kimberley in 1912. Thereafter a single City Council regulated the affairs of the city, while a Divisional Council administered the surrounding rural district. In the 1980s, in the last days of apartheid, a separate political entity referred to as Galeshewe (with Mankurwane) was brought into existence with its own council.

Post-1994 the Kimberley City Council became the Sol Plaatje Local Municipality while the successor to what had become the Diamandveld Regional Services Council was the Frances Baard District Municipality.

The idea of establishing the Northern Cape as a distinct geographic entity dates from the 1940s but it became a political and administrative fact only in 1994, with Kimberley formally becoming the new province’s legislative capital. The provincial legislature initially occupied the old Cape Provincial Administration building at the Civic Centre before moving into a purpose-built Legislature deliberately situated between one of the townships and erstwhile white suburbs. Kimberley is also the seat of the Northern Cape Division of the High Court of South Africa, which exercises jurisdiction over the province.


Society and culture

Religion

Kimberley, from its earliest days, attracted people of diverse faiths which are still reflected by practising faith communities in the city. Pre-eminently these are various denominations of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, as well as other faiths. Traditional African beliefs continue as an element in the Zionist Christian Church (ZCC). Kimberley is the seat of the Anglican Diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman and also of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kimberley – previously the Apostolic Vicariate of Kimberley in Orange. Other denominations having churches in the city are the Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Congregational Church, the Dutch Reformed Church (Afrikaans: Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk), the Baptist Church, the Afrikaans Baptist Church (Afrikaans: Afrikaanse Baptiste Kerk), the Apostolics, Pentecostalists. The Seventh-day Adventist Church in South Africa was first established in Kimberley.

Art, music, film and literature

Notable artists from Kimberley include William Timlin and Walter Westbrook, while an artist noted for his depiction of Kimberley was Philip Bawcombe.

Writers from the city or with strong Kimberley links include Diane Awerbuck, Benjamin Bennett, Lawrence Green, Dorian Haarhoff, Dan Jacobson, Z.K. Matthews, Sarah Gertrude Millin, Sol Plaatje, Olive Schreiner, A.H.M. Scholtz.

A notable reggae and rhythm and blues musician from Kimberley is Dr Victor.

Museums, monuments and memorials

  • The William Humphreys Art Gallery. The Big Hole, previously known as the Kimberley Mine Museum, is a recreated townscape and museum, with Big Hole viewing platform and other features, situated next to the Kimberley Mine ("Big Hole"). It houses a rich collection of artefacts and information from the early days of the city.
  • The McGregor Museum, which celebrated its centennial in 2007, curates and studies major research collections and information about the history and ecology of the Northern Cape, which are reflected in displays at the museum's headquarters at the Sanatorium in Belgravia and nine branch museums.
  • The Kimberley Africana Library.
  • Dunluce and Rudd House Museums.
  • Pioneers of Aviation Museum: In 1913, South Africa's first flying school opened at Kimberley and started training the pilots of the South African Aviation Corps, later to become the South African Air Force. The museum is located on the site of that flying school and houses a replica of a Compton Paterson biplane, one of the first aircraft to be used for flight training. The first female on the African continent to receive her pilot's license, Ann Maria Bocciarelli, was trained at this facility.
  • Robert Sobukwe's Law Office
  • The Sol Plaatje Museum is located in the house where Sol Plaatje lived and wrote Mhudi.
  • Transport Spoornet Museum
  • Clyde N. Terry Hall of Militaria
  • Freddie Tate Museum
  • A heritage tramway was opened in 1985, putting one of Kimberley's historic trams back on the rails.
  • On the outskirts of Kimberley, on the Barkly West Road, the Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre, as well as Nooitgedacht Glacial Pavements. To the south of the city, the Magersfontein Battlefield Museum (see Battle of Magersfontein), while blockhouses can be seen at Modder River.

Memorials include:

  • The Miners' Memorial, also known as the Diggers' Fountain, located in the Oppenheimer Gardens and designed by Herman Wald. It was built in honour of all the miners of Kimberley. The memorial consists of five life-sized diggers lifting a diamond sieve.
  • The Honoured Dead Memorial commemorates those who died defending the city during the Siege of Kimberley in the Anglo-Boer War.
  • The Concentration Camp Memorial remembers those who were interned in the Kimberley concentration camp during the Second Boer War, and is located in front of the Dutch Reformed Mother Church.The Cenotaph erected originally to commemorate the fallen of World War I, with plaques added in memory of fallen Kimberley volunteers in World War II. There is a memorial dedicated to the Kimberley Cape Coloured Corps who died in the Battle of Square Hill during World War I. Consisting of a gun captured at the battle, it originally stood in Victoria Crescent, Malay Camp, but, post-1994, was moved to the Cenotaph.
  • The Henrietta Stockdale statue, by Jack Penn, commemorates the Anglican nun, Sister Henrietta CSM&AA (her reinterred remains are buried alongside), who petitioned the Cape Parliament to pass a law recognizing nursing as a profession and requiring compulsory state registration of nurses - a first in the world.
  • The statue of Frances Baard was unveiled by Premier Hazel Jenkins on Women's Day, 9 August 2009.
  • The Sol Plaatje Statue was unveiled by South African President Jacob Zuma on 9 January 2010, the 98th anniversary of the founding of the African National Congress. Sculpted by Johan Moolman, it is at the Civic Centre, formerly the Malay Camp, and situated approximately where Plaatje had his printing press in 1910-13.
  • Burger Monument near Magersfontein Battlefield
  • Cape Police Memorial
  • Mayibuye Memorial
  • Rhodes equestrian statue
  • Malay Camp Memorial

Notable religious buildings

  • Dutch Reformed Mother Church Newton is a good example of Stucco architecture in Kimberley. It was declared a National Monument in 1976, now a Provincial Heritage Site.
  • Kimberley's older Mosques were replaced by newer ones as a result of the Group Areas Act and the forced resettlement of the city's Muslim communities.
  • Kimberley Seventh-day Adventist Church is a small L shaped corrugated-iron building and is considered the mother church of Seventh-day Adventists in South Africa. It was declared a National Monument in 1967, now a Provincial Heritage Site.
  • St Cyprian's Anglican Cathedral was designed by Arthur Lindley of the firm of Greatbatch, the building of the nave being completed in 1908. The remainder of the cathedral was completed in stages, partly under guidance of William M. Timlin (also of the firm of Greatbatch). In 1926 the Chancel was dedicated (and as a World War I memorial); in 1936 the Lady Chapel, Vestry & new organ were added; and in 1961, the tower (a World War II memorial). The cathedral contains notable stained glass windows including works by the Pretoria artist Leo Theron.
  • St Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral.
  • Synagogue in the Byzantine style designed by D.W. Greatbatch, and based on the synagogue in Florence, Italy.
Kimberley, South Africa