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Witwatersrand Basin and major goldfields
|Location||Witwatersrand Basin, Johannesburg, South Africa|
|Outcome||World's largest gold rush ever led to the eventual Boer defeat in the Second Boer War (1899-1902), the loss of Boer autonomy and self-government, and total British rule in South Africa|
Part of a series on the
|History of South Africa|
The Witwatersrand Gold Rush was a gold rush in 1886 that led to the establishment of Johannesburg, South Africa. It was a key part of the Mineral Revolution.
A gold rush is a new discovery of gold—sometimes accompanied by other precious metals and rare-earth minerals—that brings an onrush of miners seeking their fortune. Major gold rushes took place in the 19th century in Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada, South Africa and the United States, while smaller gold rushes took place elsewhere.
Johannesburg, informally known as Jozi or Jo'burg, is the largest city in South Africa and one of the 50 largest urban areas in the world. It is the provincial capital and largest city of Gauteng, which is the wealthiest province in South Africa. While Johannesburg is not one of South Africa's three capital cities, it is the seat of the Constitutional Court. The city is located in the mineral-rich Witwatersrand range of hills and is the centre of large-scale gold and diamond trade.
South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini (Swaziland); and it surrounds the enclaved country of Lesotho. South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and, with over 57 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Bantu ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status. The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European, Asian (Indian), and multiracial (Coloured) ancestry.
There had always been rumours of a modern-day "El Dorado" in the folklore of the native tribes that roamed the plains of the South African highveld and in that of the gold miners who had come from all over the world to seek out their fortunes on the alluvial mines of Barberton and Pilgrim's Rest, in what is now known as the province of Mpumalanga.
El Dorado, originally El Hombre Dorado or El Rey Dorado, was the term used by the Spanish Empire to describe a mythical tribal chief (zipa) of the Muisca people, an indigenous people of the Altiplano Cundiboyacense of Colombia, who, as an initiation rite, covered himself with gold dust and submerged in Lake Guatavita. The legends surrounding El Dorado changed over time, as it went from being a man, to a city, to a kingdom, and then finally to an empire.
Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. These include oral traditions such as tales, proverbs and jokes. They include material culture, ranging from traditional building styles to handmade toys common to the group. Folklore also includes customary lore, the forms and rituals of celebrations such as Christmas and weddings, folk dances and initiation rites. Each one of these, either singly or in combination, is considered a folklore artifact. Just as essential as the form, folklore also encompasses the transmission of these artifacts from one region to another or from one generation to the next. Folklore is not something one can typically gain in a formal school curriculum or study in the fine arts. Instead, these traditions are passed along informally from one individual to another either through verbal instruction or demonstration. The academic study of folklore is called folklore studies or folkloristics, and it can be explored at undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. levels.
The Highveld is the portion of the South African inland plateau which has an altitude above roughly 1500 m, but below 2100 m, thus excluding the Lesotho mountain regions to the south-east of the Highveld. It is home to some of the country's most important commercial farming areas, as well as its largest concentration of metropolitan centres, especially the Gauteng conurbation, which accommodates one-third of South Africa's population.
But it was not until 1886 that the massive wealth of the Witwatersrand would be uncovered. Scientific studies have pointed to the fact that the "Golden Arc" which stretches from Johannesburg to Welkom was once a massive inland lake, and that silt and gold deposits from alluvial gold settled in the area to form the gold-rich deposits that South Africa is famous for.
The Witwatersrand is a 56-kilometre-long (35 mi), north-facing scarp in South Africa. It consists of a hard, erosion-resistant quartzite metamorphic rock, over which several north-flowing rivers form waterfalls, which account for the name Witwatersrand, meaning "ridge of white waters" in Afrikaans. This east-west-running scarp can be traced with only one short gap, from Bedfordview in the east, through Johannesburg and Roodepoort, to Krugersdorp in the west.
Welkom is the second-largest city in the Free State province of South Africa, located about 140 kilometres (90 mi) northeast of Bloemfontein, the provincial capital. Welkom is also known as Circle City, City Within A Garden, Mvela and Matjhabeng. The city's English name, Matjhabeng means 'where nations meet', derived from the migrant labour system, where people of various countries such as Lesotho, Malawi and Mozambique etc. met to work in the mines of the gold fields.
Silt is granular material of a size between sand and clay, whose mineral origin is quartz and feldspar. Silt may occur as a soil or as sediment mixed in suspension with water and soil in a body of water such as a river. It may also exist as soil deposited at the bottom of a water body, like mudflows from landslides. Silt has a moderate specific area with a typically non-sticky, plastic feel. Silt usually has a floury feel when dry, and a slippery feel when wet. Silt can be visually observed with a hand lens, exhibiting a sparkly appearance. It also can be felt by the tongue as granular when placed on the front teeth.
The first discovery of gold in the region is recorded as being in 1852 in the Pardekraal farmby J.H. Davis, an English miner. He sold £600 of gold to the Transvaal Treasury and was subsequently ordered to leave the country. Another find by Pieter Jacob Marais was recorded in 1853 on the Jukskei River, but was subject to similar secrecy. Though there were smaller mining operations in the region, it wasn’t until 1884 and the subsequent 1886 discovery at Langlaagte that the Witwatersrand gold rush got under way in earnest.
Explorer and prospector Jan Gerrit Bantjes [ citation needed ](1840-1914) was the first and original discoverer of a Witwatersrand gold reef in June 1884 having prospected the area since the early 1880s, as well as co-operating the Kromdraai Gold Mine in 1883 to the NW of present-day Johannesburg together with his partner Johannes Stephanus Minnaar in an area known today as "The Cradle of Humankind". However, these were minor reefs, and today the general consensus falsely holds that credit for the discovery of the main gold reef must be attributed to George Harrison, whose findings on the farm Langlaagte were made in July 1886, either through accident or systematic prospecting. This at the time was a British attempt to give credit for the discovery to the Anglo sector in an attempt to justify claiming the Witwatersrand fields as British. This move was one of the factors leading to the Anglo Boer War of 1899-1902. Harrison declared his claim with the then-government of the Suid Afrikaanse Republiek (ZAR), and the area was pronounced open. His discovery is recorded in history with a monument where the original gold outcrop is believed to be located, and a park named in his honour. Harrison is believed to have sold his claim for less than 10 Pounds before leaving the area.
News of gold spread rapidly and reached Cecil Rhodes in Kimberley. Rhodes and his partner Robinson with a team of companions were curious and rode over 400 km to Bantjes' camp at Vogelstruisfontein and stayed with him for two nights near what would later become Roodepoort. Rhodes purchased the first batch of Witwatersrand gold from Bantjes for £3000. This purchase would be the first transaction of the newly formed company Consolidated Gold Fields of South Africa.
Cecil John Rhodes was a British businessman, mining magnate and politician in southern Africa who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. An ardent believer in British imperialism, Rhodes and his British South Africa Company founded the southern African territory of Rhodesia, which the company named after him in 1895. South Africa's Rhodes University is also named after him. Rhodes set up the provisions of the Rhodes Scholarship, which is funded by his estate. He also put much effort towards his vision of a Cape to Cairo Railway through British territory.
Kimberley is the capital and largest city 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. British businessmen Cecil Rhodes and Barney Barnato made their fortunes in Kimberley, and Rhodes established the De Beers diamond company in the early days of the mining town.
Roodepoort is a city in Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa. Formerly an independent municipality, Roodepoort became part of the Johannesburg municipality in the late 1990s, along with Randburg and Sandton. Johannesburg's most famous botanical garden, Witwatersrand National Botanical Gardens, is located in Roodepoort.
The world's largest gold rush ever had begun and South Africa would never be the same. News spread around the world and prospectors from Australia to California began arriving in masses and the first lanterns of a soon to be Johannesburg began flickering along dusty streets. For a number of years all went well, but then President Paul Kruger of the South African Republic (ZAR) began getting worried so many foreigners would soon outnumber the Boers, and the first of certain "measures" were put into place. Bantjes, whose father Jan Gerritze Bantjes had educated Kruger when he was a boy during the Great Trek, had discussions with Kruger regarding those "measures." One of them was to place heavy taxes on the sale of dynamite to the foreigners so as to slow the momentum. This only agitated the miners and gave the British another reason to make a grab for the gold fields and take the lot for themselves. The disastrous Jameson Raid followed which put Cecil Rhodes in the spotlight. The Jameson Raid was supported by Rhodes and led by Sir Leander Starr Jameson. Its intent was to overthrow the Transvaal government and turn the region into a British colony. There were 500 men who took part in the uprising; 21 were killed and many arrested, tried and sentenced.
It did not take long for fortune-seekers from all over the world to flock to the area, and soon what was a dusty mining village known as Ferreira's Camp was formalised into a settlement. Initially, the ZAR did not believe that the gold would last for long, and mapped out a small triangular piece of land to cram as many plots onto as possible. This is the reason why Johannesburg's central business district streets are so narrow. There is some dispute as to the origin of the name Johannesburg and to which Johannes, a common Dutch name, the city was named after. It is thought to be named after two state surveyors who were sent to choose an area for the layout of the new town, Johann Rissik and Christiaan Johannes Joubert.
Within 10 years, the town was already the largest in South Africa, outstripping the growth of Cape Town, which was more than 200 years older. The gold rush saw massive development of Johannesburg and the Witwatersrand, and the area remains the prime metropolitan area of South Africa. One consequence of the gold rush was the construction of the first railway lines in this part of Africa. As a result of the rapid development of the goldfields on the Witwatersrand in the 1880s and the demand for coal by the growing industry, a concession was granted by the ZAR government to the Netherlands-South African Railway Company (NZASM) on July 20, 1888, to construct a 16 miles (26 kilometres) railway line from Johannesburg to Boksburg. The line was opened on March 17, 1890 with the first train being hauled by a 14 Tonner locomotive, became known as the "Randtram", even though it was actually a railway in every aspect and not singularly dedicated to tram traffic. This was the first working railway line in the Transvaal.
The discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand also created a super wealthy class of miners and industrialists known as Randlords. Many Randlords built large estates and mansions on the Parktown Ridge.
The Witwatersrand Gold Rush was a major contributing factor of the failed Jameson Raid of 1895 to 1896, and of the outbreak of the Second Boer War in 1899. Boer resentment over the large number of foreigners (Uitlanders) in the Witwatersrand led to heavy taxes and the denial of voting rights for the gold miners, and in response the Uitlanders and the British owners of the mines began to pressure the overthrow of the Boer government.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to George Harrison Park .|
The Second Boer War was fought between the British Empire and two Boer states, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State, over the Empire's influence in South Africa. It is also known variously as the Boer War, Anglo-Boer War, or South African War. Initial Boer attacks were successful, and although British reinforcements later reversed these, the war continued for years with Boer guerrilla warfare, until harsh British counter-measures brought the Boers to terms.
The Jameson Raid was a botched raid against the South African Republic carried out by British colonial statesman Leander Starr Jameson and his Company troops and Bechuanaland policemen over the New Year weekend of 1895–96. Paul Kruger was president of the republic at the time. The raid was intended to trigger an uprising by the primarily British expatriate workers in the Transvaal but failed to do so. The workers were called the Johannesburg conspirators. They were expected to recruit an army and prepare for an insurrection. The raid was ineffective and no uprising took place. The results included embarrassing the British government; replacing Cecil Rhodes as premier of the Cape Colony; strengthening Afrikaner dominance of the Transvaal and its gold mines; helping start the Anglo-Boer War (1899–1902); and ultimately it was a factor in imposing apartheid in the Union of South Africa.
Stephanus Johannes Paulus "Paul" Kruger was one of the dominant political and military figures in 19th-century South Africa, and President of the South African Republic from 1883 to 1900. Nicknamed Oom Paul, he came to international prominence as the face of the Boer cause—that of the Transvaal and its neighbour the Orange Free State—against Britain during the Second Boer War of 1899–1902. He has been called a personification of Afrikanerdom, and remains a controversial and divisive figure; admirers venerate him as a tragic folk hero, and critics view him as the obstinate guardian of an unjust cause.
Uitlander, Afrikaans for "foreigner", was a foreign migrant worker during the Witwatersrand Gold Rush in the independent Transvaal Republic following the discovery of gold in 1886. The limited rights granted this group in the independent Boer Republics was one of the contributing factors behind the Second Boer War.
Johannesburg is a large city in Gauteng Province of South Africa. It was established as a small village controlled by a Health Committee in 1886 with the discovery of an outcrop of a gold reef on the farm Langlaagte. The population of the city grew rapidly, becoming a municipality in 1897. In 1928 it became a city making Johannesburg the largest city in South Africa. In 2002 it joined ten other municipalities to form the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality. Today, it is a centre for learning and entertainment for all of Africa. It is also the capital of Gauteng.
Ferreirasdorp is an inner-city suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa located in Region F of the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality.
John Hays Hammond was a mining engineer, diplomat, and philanthropist. Known as the man with the Midas touch, he amassed a sizable fortune before the age of 40. An early advocate of deep mining, Hammond was given complete charge of Cecil Rhodes' mines in South Africa and made each undertaking a financial success. He was a main force planning and executing the Jameson Raid in 1895. It was a fiasco and Hammond, along with the other leaders of the Johannesburg Reform Committee, was arrested and sentenced to death. The Reform Committee leaders were released after paying large fines, but like many of the leaders, Hammond escaped Africa for good. He returned to the United States, became a close friend of President William Howard Taft, and was appointed a special ambassador. At the same time, he continued to develop mines in Mexico and California and, in 1923, he made another fortune while drilling for oil with the Burnham Exploration Company. His son, John Hays Hammond, Jr., patented over 400 inventions, and is widely regarded as the father of radio control.
Sir Joseph Benjamin Robinson, 1st Baronet was a South African mining magnate and Randlord. Born in Cradock, Eastern Cape, died Wynberg, Cape Town.
Field Marshal Jan Christian Smuts, OM, CH, ED, KC, FRS was a prominent South African and Commonwealth statesman, military leader, and philosopher. He served as a Boer General during the Boer War, a British General during the First World War and was appointed Field Marshal by King George VI during the Second World War. In addition to various cabinet appointments, he served as Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa from 1919 until 1924 and from 1939 until 1948. From 1917 to 1919 he was one of five members of the British War Cabinet, helping to create the Royal Air Force. He played a leading part in the post-war settlements at the end of both world wars, making significant contributions towards the creation of the League of Nations and the United Nations. He did much to redefine the relationship between Britain and the Dominions and Colonies, leading to the formation of the British Commonwealth.
Randlords were the entrepreneurs who controlled the diamond and gold mining industries in South Africa in its pioneer phase from the 1870s up to World War I.
The Reform Committee was an organisation of prominent Johannesburg citizens which existed late 1895/early 1896.
During the Napoleonic Wars, the Cape Colony was annexed by the British and officially became their colony in 1815. Britain encouraged settlers to the Cape, and in particular, sponsored the 1820 Settlers to farm in the disputed area between the colony and the Xhosa in what is now the Eastern Cape. The changing image of the Cape from Dutch to British excluded the Dutch farmers in the area, the Boers who in the 1820s started their Great Trek to the northern areas of modern South Africa. This period also marked the rise in power of the Zulu under their king Shaka Zulu. Subsequently several conflicts arose between the British, Boers and Zulus, which led to the Zulu defeat and the ultimate Boer defeat in the Second Anglo-Boer War. However, the Treaty of Vereeniging established the framework of South African limited independence as the Union of South Africa.
Sir Lionel Phillips, 1st Baronet was a British-born South African financier, mining magnate and politician.
Colonel John Dale Lace was a South African gold and diamond mining magnate and Randlord. He was born in Port St Mary on the Isle of Man.
Mining in South Africa was once the main driving force behind the history and development of Africa's most advanced and richest economy. Large-scale and profitable mining started with the discovery of a diamond on the banks of the Orange River in 1867 by Erasmus Jacobs and the subsequent discovery and exploitation of the Kimberley pipes a few years later. Gold rushes to Pilgrim's Rest and Barberton were precursors to the biggest discovery of all, the Main Reef/Main Reef Leader on Gerhardus Oosthuizen's farm Langlaagte, Portion C, in 1886, the Witwatersrand Gold Rush and the subsequent rapid development of the gold field there, the biggest of them all.
Ethnic, political and social tensions among European colonial powers, indigenous Africans, and English and Dutch settlers led to open conflict in a series of wars and revolts between 1879 and 1915 that would have lasting repercussions on the entire region of southern Africa. Pursuit of commercial empire as well as individual aspirations, especially after the discovery of diamonds (1867) and gold (1886), were key factors driving these developments.
The Drifts Crisis of 1895 was an imperial-republican confrontation in South Africa that took place in September and October 1895. It was precipitated by the closing of fords, which in South Africa were known as ‘drifts’, hence the name. The Crisis has traditionally been seen as the precursor to the Jameson Raid and the uncompromising policies of High Commissioner for Southern Africa Alfred Milner which followed, and eventually led to the Second Anglo-Boer War. Historians generally regard the conflicts to have been between the Cape Colony and the South African Republic (SAR), informally known as the Transvaal Republic.
Ottoshoop is one of the small towns in the Mahikeng Local Municipality in the North West Province of South Africa, situated 20km from the city of Mahikeng on the way to the town of Zeerust. Residents serve the scanty needs of a few locals, underwater divers and railway users. During the town's boom years from 1879 to 1880, Ottoshoop was, however, the commercial capital of South Africa. This spirit of the town still lives on in today's commercial capital of Africa – Johannesburg. Before the Europeans' arrival in mid-1800, the area was populated by the baRalong tribe, who built extensive walls to steer game into traps.
In the South African Boer republics of the 19th century, a burgher was a fully enfranchised citizen.
Rand Water previously known as the Rand Water Board is a South African water utility that supplies potable water to the Gauteng province and other areas of the country and is the largest water utility in Africa. The water is drawn from numerous sources and is purified and supplied to industry, mining and local municipalities and is also involved in sanitation of waste water.