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  • Unconquerable Spirit: George Stow and the landscapes of the San

    In 2008, the exhibition 'Unconquerable Spirit: George Stow and the landscapes of the San' opened at the Iziko Museum of South Africa. Curated by Pippa Skotnes, the exhibition featured the work of a relatively unknown figure in 19th century South African history. George William Stow was a British born, South African geologist, ethnologist, poet, historian, artist, cartographer, and writer who was responsible for a creating large collection of watercolours and drawings that documented the rock art he found in the caves and shelters of South Africa. The exhibition brought together a vast range of materials representing Stow’s life and the period in which it was produced – from his drawings and paintings; his letters, documents, and poems; to his maps, and field diaries. ​ The display shows one map in particular which is kept as part of the National Library of South Africa collections, and was drawn by Stow during the period he was conducting geological surveys of the country surrounding the diamond fields of Kimberley, down to the junction of the Orange and Vaal rivers and beyond. It shows amongst other things, the diamondiferous deposits of the Vaal river during the late 19th century and, as part of this section of the exhibition which focused on Stow the geologist, Skotnes displayed it alongside relevant disciplinary materials she sourced from the Department of Geological Sciences, University of Cape Town.
  • Geological Map of the Vaal River (from 'Stow: a geological fieldguide of UCT')

    "Stow’s discovery of coal deposits in 1878, found in the beds of the Vaal River, was of interest to the diamond magnate, Sammy Marks. Marks realised the importance of Stow’s discovery and the opportunity for using coal at the Kimberley diamond fields for energy generation (Leigh, 1968:112). He believed he could transport the coal from Vereeniging to Kimberley by floating it down-river by a series of weirs to his diamond claims. This turned out to be impractical and he had to resort to using ox-wagons as a method of transport instead (Leigh 1968:17). ​ Marks & Lewis who at that time owned a quarter of all the Kimberley diamond claims, sold most of their Kimberley claims to concentrate on the coal finds through their newly formed mining company, the Zuid-Afrikaansche en Oranje Vrystaatsche Mineralen en Mijnbouvereeniging (later to become the Vereeniging Estates Limited). In 1892, the small village of Vereeniging was formally established" (Liebenberg 2021).
  • Geological Map of the Vaal River

    Geological Map of the Vaal River, from Fourteen Streams to the Kareyn Poort shewing the Various Formations, and the Positions of the Diamantiferous Deposits. Sheet No 11'.
  • Smallpox

    "In Kimberley in 1883-4, several leading doctors with links to the diamond-mining industry publicly denied the presence of smallpox among migrant workers, instead diagnosing them as suffering from a rare skin disease. They appear to have done so lest admitting that the dreaded smallpox was raging, which would have affected the supply of labour and materiel and thereby interrupting mining operations. Led by Cecil Rhodes’s friend, Dr Leander Starr Jameson, measures to curb the epidemic were sporadic or, in the mining compounds, non-existent, and cases topped 2000, with mortality at 3.5 per cent of the population. Only when the colonial government eventually called in external doctors to diagnose the disease, was the cover-up terminated and vaccination, fumigation and isolation vigorously pursued. The conspiracy of denial, by retarding action and sowing doubt about the need to be vaccinated, had been responsible for no small percentage of the 700 deaths in the town" (Phillips 2012: 32-33).
  • Kimberlite

    "UCT was founded in 1829 as the South African College, a high school for boys. ​ The College had a small tertiary-education facility that grew substantially after 1880, when the discovery of gold and diamonds in the north – and the resulting demand for skills in mining – gave it the financial boost it needed to grow. ​ The College developed into a fully fledged university during the period 1880 to 1900, thanks to increased funding from private sources and the government. ​ During these years, the College built its first dedicated science laboratories, and started the departments of mineralogy and geology to meet the need for skilled personnel in the country's emerging diamond and gold-mining industries (Ritchie 1918: 495-496)".
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