10 Facts: Kimberley

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I’ve never visited Kimberley. It’s probably the biggest town in South Africa’s Northern Cape province (and I have no relatives living in that province). I would not mind visiting this South African town though, the town has a very rich history.

Here are some facts about Kimberley:

  • The town was founded in 1871 when diamonds were discovered on a nearby farm named Vooruitzicht (owned by the De Beers brothers). The town was also known as New Rush before it was renamed to Kimberley (after then British Secretary of State for the Colonies Lord Kimberley).
  • The town was incorporated into the Cape Colony in 1880.
  • Kimberley is nicknamed the Diamond City.
  • The De Beers Consolidated Mines, organized by Cecil Rhodes, assumed control of the diamond fields in 1888, and its headquarters are still in the city.
  • Today Kimberley is the capital of the Northern Cape province in South Africa and has a population of +/- 167,000.
  • From mid-July 1871 to 1914, 50,000 miners dug the now famous Big Hole (then called the Kimberley Mine) in the town with picks and shovels yielding 2,722 kilograms of diamonds. The hole has a surface of 17hectares (42 acres) and is 463 meters wide. It was excavated to a depth of 240 meters, but then partially infilled with debris reducing its depth to about 215m. Since then it has accumulated water to a depth of 40 meters, leaving only 175 meters visible.
  • During the 2nd Anglo Boer War the town was under siege by the Boers (the siege ended in 1900). The British had built a concentration camp outside the town by that time to house Boer women and children.
  • The town’s municipality is known as the Sol Plaatjie Municipality. It’s named after a founding member of the South African National Congress (which was later became the African National Congress, which is current ruling party in South Africa). A statue of Sol Plaatje was unveiled early in 2010 in the town by current South African president Jacob Zuma.
  • The Pioneers of Aviation Museum is in Kimberley. In 1913 South Africa’s first flying school opened at Kimberley and started training the pilots of the South African Aviation Corps which later became the South African Air Force (the 2nd oldest Air Force in the world).
  • Kimberley houses the Miners’ Memorial (built in honor of Kimberley’s miners), the Honoured Dead Memorial (built to commemorate those that died defending the city in the siege in the 2nd Anglo Boer War), the Concentration Camp memorial (built in rememberance of those who were interned at the concentration camp in the 2nd Anglo Boer War) and many other memorials.

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