Episode 10: 'Stools and Jewels': Early Diamond Mining in Mzansi (1840 - 1880)

Goodnight Azania

08-02-2021 • 1 hr 15 mins

Last week we were joined by Robert Ross who to a large extent helped us understand with more sincerity what the annexation of the Cape colony by the British meant for people living in what would later be called South Africa. The content of that episode was extensive, and thus cannot be repeated whole in this introduction. Where Robert left off was in the 1850s with the struggle in settler society for representative government.

On today’s episode we are interested in picking up where Robert left off and continue the discussion,to span the rest of the period that is today broadly referred to as a preindustrial South Africa. By “industrial” what is meant is mass production and the use of sophisticated machinery in that process of production. If I could bring the word home for people who understand isiZulu: I remember that sometimes when adults would go out to look for work, or, were employed in a big city abantu used to say that uya efemini, noma usebenza efemini.

On today’s episode, then, will focus on the rest of the preindustrial period. What is key though is that there will be no part of South Africa that will be mentioned for the first time in today’s discussion. On episode nine, John Wright went at length to help us uncover the social, political and economic relations in the interion and the north eastern parts, and, before that, Alex also did much work to help us understand the archaeological understandings of continuity and change in second millennium farming societies throughout the first six tenths of the last millennium.

To help us unpack all these questions we are joined by Norman Etherington.

Norman is Emeritus Professor at the University of Western Australia. Since moving to Australia in 1968 he has published widely on European Imperialism, African History, History of the British Empire, History of Christian Missions, Southern Africa and the History of Cartography. He has held visiting posts at Columbia University, the School of Oriental and African Studies, the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, Rhodes University, and the University of Cape Town. Norman is also a Research Associate at the University of South Africa.

Outside the academy he has been recognised for his service to the National Trust and the Heritage Council of Western Australia. From 2012 to 2017 he was President of the National Trust of South Australia and is a past President of the Australian Historical Association. He is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, the Royal Historical Society in the UK, and the Royal Geographical Society also in the UK. In 2013 he was made a member of the Order of Australia for services to history and the community.