Diamonds ‘n’ Gold…

I am always amused at the lengths Defenders of the Myth™ have to go to so as to twist and bastardise history to fit their self-serving agenda: ie. that the poor, innocent Boer republics were entirely blameless in the war which they started by attacking and invading British territory.

One such example popped up recently, in which a particularly ill-educated True Believer™ attempted to explain away the origins of the Boer War thus:

The British empire abided to the treaties for a short while, until the discovery of diamonds and gold in the Boer Republics, when greed trumped honour – forcing the Second Boer War onto the Boer Republics through nefarious tactics.

It always amuses me when these fellows claim the war was ‘forced’ on the Boer republics… as though the Kruger clique had absolutely no control over themselves, or responsibility for their own actions. In the fevered minds of these types, the fact the Kruger plotted and planned for war for years, strived for over a decade to build an offensive alliance with the Orange Free State, supplied weapons to would-be rebels in British territory, and then (and this really should be the clincher), declared war and invaded his neighbours, is all OK… indeed, it can only possibly be someone else’s fault, as apparently the Boers cannot ever be held responsible for their own actions.
Leaving aside this lunacy, he was then asked where, in the Boer republics, diamonds had suddenly been discovered, and he replied:

Jagersfontein in the OVS, which produced the Excelsior and Reitz diamonds. The Reitz were (sic) renamed Jubilee by the Brits. Also, in 1897 at Rayton in the ZAR, near where the Cullinan diamond was mined shortly after the war in 1905.

This is especially entertaining, as the diamond field at Jagersfontein (some 70 miles South East of Kimberley) was actually discovered back in 1870 (ie. 29 years prior to the Boer invasion of British territory) and was pretty small beer: ‘the Jagersfontein mine was never included in Cecil John Rhodes’ grand consolidation scheme. It had never been Rhodes’ policy to set out to win control of all diamond production regardless. In fact, he happily tolerated small companies working diamond pipes like Jagersfontein, as the production was tiny in comparison with what emerged from the pipes in Kimberley’.[1] One should also note that, despite the fiction this clown is peddling, the Jagersfontein mine was not callously seized from its owners by Imperial forces, and would only be (perfectly legally) acquired by De Beers Consolidated Mines, under the direction of Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, in 1930.

Up in the Transvaal, work at the Premier Mine[2] at Cullinan (the town was named in honour of Sir Thomas Cullinan, the owner of the mine) commenced in late 1902 (ie. three years after the Boers attacked British territory), and it only became operational in 1903… a year after the Boer War ended. In fact, it wasn’t until after the Boer War ended that Cullinan even bought the land – for £52,000 – from the late owner’s daughter. As the foreword to The Cullinan Papers puts it: ‘After taking part in the South African War[3], Cullinan secured the right to exploit the still unprospected property of Willem Prinsloo, on which in 1902 was discovered the Premier Diamond Mine, the world’s largest diamond property’.[4]

When the Premier mine at Cullinan came on stream, after the war, the effect was increased competition with the mines at Kimberley, a challenge to the virtual monopoly De Beers had previously enjoyed, and volatility in diamond prices[5]. Evidence of Kimberlites had indeed been discovered at nearby Rayton in 1897, but nothing had been developed there prior to the war[6] – rather, Rayton would later experience a ‘mini-diamond rush’ because of the diamond finds at Cullinan.

And yet, accordingly to this chap, Britain ‘forced’ a war on the poor, innocent republics, because they were suddenly desperate to steal the relatively minor Jagersfontein field – which had been discovered a generation earlier, and which Rhodes could have bought with pocket change… and, presumably by means of some sort of premonition, also keen to steal the Cullinan mine – which only became operational years after the Boers started the war, and which, far from being a benefit to Rhodes et al, actually had the effect of challenging De Beers’ market position.

Of course, none of these inconvenient facts matter to Kruger’s modern-day apologists: in their mind, everything must be – and, indeed, can only ever be – the fault of the dastardly British.  

And, what is more, we are asked to believe that the scheming, nefarious Brits somehow ‘forced’ this war on the republics by cunningly not having many troops in theatre, having no plan in place to invade the republics, by being attacked and invaded by the poor, innocent Boers, and initially losing huge tracts of territory. More cunning still, if this fellow is to be believed, after ‘forcing’ the Boers to start a war, the British – despite being desperate to grab diamond mines which hadn’t yet even started operation – then swiftly granted self-government to the two former republics, having not snatched possession of any diamond mines from any of their owners[7].

Such are the embarrassing mental gymnastics required to keep their much-cherished Apartheid-era myths alive.


[1] A brief history of the Jagersfontein diamond mine, Mining Weekly, 11 November 2011

[2] The Premier Mine was developed by the Rand Lord, Sir Thomas Cullinan, who was a brick maker turned prospector. He built an impressive house called ‘The View’ in Johannesburg’s Parktown, a stunning building which is now the home of the Transvaal Scottish Regimental Association

[3] Like thousands of other Uitlanders, Cullinan left Johannesburg immediately prior to the war, and served in a volunteer unit in the Cape Colony called the Wodehouse Yeomanry: for more, read ‘Diamonds and Clay’, by A.P. Cartwright

[4] Sir Thomas Cullinan Papers. 1899 (1903-1934) – 1959, University of the Witwatersrand

[5] Diamond exploration and mining in southern Africa: Some thoughts on past, current and possible future trends, published in J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. vol.119 n.2 Johannesburg Feb. 2019

[6] Draper, D. On the diamond pipes of the South African Republic. Transactions of the Geological Society of South Africa, vol. iV. p. 5. 

[7] If the dastardly British – the champions of laissez-faire, free-market trading of the age, let us not forget – were, for some unexplained reason, desperate to control the diamond supply / price at the behest of De Beers, why weren’t the prospects at Rayton / Cullinan simply seized and handed over to them? It is also worth noting that, despite his loyal service in the Boer War, Cullinan was far from being some wicked stooge of the Imperial Government: he was an outspoken advocate for self-rule in the former Boer republics, and later served as a representative of Louis Botha’s Afrikaans-dominated ‘Het Volk’ party, rather than the more pro-British Unionist Party


  • Chris Posted November 22, 2021 8:12 am

    Seeing as we are talking about Gold Diamonds – and Gordon

    Gordon told Rhodes the story of how, after he had subdued the Taiping rebellion, the Chinese government had offered him a roomful of gold.

    ‘What did you do?’ asked Rhodes.

    ‘Refused it, of course,’ replied Gordon. ‘What would you have done?’

    ‘I would have taken it,’ said Rhodes, ‘and as many roomfuls as they would give me. It is no use for us to have big ideas if we have not got the money to carry them out.’

    Gordon was sufficiently impressed with Rhodes to ask him to work with him in Basutoland, but Rhodes declined. ‘There are very few men in the world to whom I would have made such an offer. Very few men, I can tell you; but of course you will have your way. I never met a man as strong for his opinion; you think your views are always right.’

    • Bulldog Posted November 22, 2021 9:09 am

      Had Gordon not met a sticky end in Khartoum in 1885, I wonder if he might have fallen into Rhodes’ orbit?
      Unlikely, perhaps, but a ‘Gordon Raid’ (rather than the ‘Jameson Raid’ of reality) would, I suggest, have had a rather different outcome. Especially if Jameson had instead been posted in Johannesburg, and used his incredible charisma to motivate and galvanise the wavering Uitlanders into action.

  • Chris Posted November 23, 2021 7:57 am

    Jameson raid was a stich up – designed to fail from the beginning.
    Read the Secret Society in conjunction with Manie Maritz “My Lewe en Strewe”
    For role of Smuts as well
    Gordon would have suffered the same fate as in Khartoum – he would NOT have surrendered !

    • Bulldog Posted November 23, 2021 8:32 am

      You may well be right, but I would suggest any Raid led by Gordon would not have been such a complete cake-and-arse-party, in that he would have organised it properly. Just as importantly, with Jameson in Johannesburg, the uprising of the Uitlanders would have had a dynamic, charismatic and energetic figurehead, thus reducing the chance of it to collapse into squabbling factions as happened in reality.
      But we shall never know.

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