Monday, June 23, 2008


Personalities of note

Kimberley has been fortunate to have produced a number of personalities who were legends in their time. So let’s introduce you to a few of these sons and daughters who made their mark locally or further afield...

Sol Plaatje

He wrote a novel entitled Mhudi and so became the first Black South African to publish a novel in English. He translated many of Shakespeare’s works into Setswana, a local African Language. Plaatje had a prolific career in journalism-and served as editor of numerous newspapers. He authored a number of important documentary books, in particular Native Life in South Africa. He sang the first ever sound recording of Nkosi Sikelele i Afrika. Plaatje was a founder member of the African National Congress (ANC). He died in 1932 and was buried in the West End Cemetery. His house in Angel Street - today a museum -is a Provincial Heritage Site.

Jan Bloem

Born in 1775, the son of a German renegade by .a Korana mother, Jan Bloem junior succeeded his father as chief of the Springbok Korana. Under his leadership, this Korana group exploited the trading and raiding opportunities of the late eight­eenth and early nineteenth century frontier here. A much feared frontiersman, Bloem subsequently allowed the Berlin Missionaries to settle at Pniel in 1845. Bloem died at Pniel in about 1858.

Cecil John Rhodes

CJR, as he was affably referred to, came to the diamond dig­gings at the youthful age of eighteen. Blessed with enormous persuasive power, he had an extraordinary ability ‘to get inside the other man’s head’ and achieve virtually anything he wanted. Rhodes was a brilliant strategist and took great risks in his business dealings. By the age of 38, he was already Prime Minister of the Cape Colony and Chairperson both of De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd and Consolidated Goldfields. As an Empire builder, Rhodes was a founder of Rhodesia, known as Zimbabwe today. Buried in the Matopo Hills in Zimbabwe, Rhodes was the only white man to receive from the Matabele people the Royal salute, "Bayete!" at his funeral.

Kgosi (Chief) Galeshewe

He was a Tlhaping ‘Kgosi’ (chief) after whom the Kimberley ‘township’ of Galeshewe was named. Galeshewe was cap­tured in 1878 following the attack on Cornforth Hill near Taung and sentenced to twelve years imprisonment. In 1897, during the rinderpest outbreak, he again clashed with police and the military at Phokwane (Hartswater). He was sub­sequently imprisoned for his part in the uprising known as the Langeberg Rebellion. He died at Magagaaphiri, north of Hartswater, in 1927.A memorial was placed at his grave in 2007.

Marie Bocciaretti

She became the first South African woman to be trained as a pilot at the Kimberley Flying School in 1913,

Henrietta Stockdale

A member of the Anglican Nursing Order of St Michael and All Angels, she was the founder of professional nurs­ing in South Africa, Sister Henrietta first worked in Kimberley in 1876, returning as Matron of the Carnarvon Hospital here in 1879. The first state registration of nurs­es in the world by Act of Parliament in 1891 resulted from her efforts here to establish profes­sional standards for the training of nurses.

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