National Geographic : 1896 May
AFRICA SINCE 1888 gases. In this formation the diamonds are imbedded, in a reg ular order known to miners. Formerly the earth was thrown out from the surface until several hundred feet in depth over a large area had been removed. This method of working was dan gerous and expensive, and now shafts are sunk at a little distance from the craters and the blue earth is reached by underground galleries. The workings are inclosed by high walls, within which the workmen are confined during the time of their service, Each night they are stripped and their persons and clothing subjected to a most careful examination. The secretion of diamonds or their purchase from workmen is punished most severely; but with all these precautions diamonds to the value of probably a million dollars a year are secured by the miners. Instances like the following, are not uncommon: A man escaping on horse back was carefully examined and released, no diamonds being found upon him, but on crossing the border he stopped, dis mounted, shot his horse, and took from the animal;a small bag, of these precious stones. There wc;e originally so many different claims and rival com panies that their consolidation seemed almost impossible. It was then that Mr Cecil Rhodes first appeared prominently before the world. Through his financial genius and marvelous man agement the companies were consolidated into one corporation, with a capital of $20,000,000. The net profits in 1895 are said to have been over $11,000,000 from the sale of the diamonds; $5,000,000, or 25 per cent, was divided and the balance carried to a reserve fund. The production is limited to the demand, so that the market may not be overstocked and the diamond de crease in value. TRANSVAAL, OR SOUTH AFRICAN REPUBLIC Not far from the diamond mines are the richest gold mines in the world. These are in the Transvaal, a country of from 110,000 to 120,000 square miles, 240 miles from north to south and 360 miles from east to west, and with a population of 700,000 to 750,000. Of these 75,000 are Boers.* The ancestors of the Boers were Dutch and French Hugue nots, who had with our own Pilgrim Fathers found in Holland a refuge from persecution for more than a generation. They left Holland about the same time that the Pilgrims and Dutch sailed for America-the one to an inhospitable climate and a * Boer is the same word as the German Bauer and English boor, a peasant farmer.