Visit Galeshewe, Kimberley’s oldest township, and you’ll discover friendly people, historic buildings and a rich history, including stories aplenty about the early days of diamond mining and resistance to political oppression.
Galeshewe was founded as “Number 2” location in 1878, soon after diamonds were discovered on the nearby Colesberg Kopje (a “kopje” is a hill) in 1871, and the world’s greatest diamond rush quickly followed. The little hill was actually the remains of a giant volcanic kimberlite pipe, which had exploded millions of years ago above the Earth’s surface. The kimberlite, also known as “blue ground” for its black-bluish colour, is rich in diamonds.
Diamonds totalling more than 14-million carats (an equivalent of 2 722kg) were removed between 1871 and 1914, when the Kimberley Mine, as it became known, was closed at the outbreak of World War I. With the frenzied digging of thousands of miners, the hill soon became a giant, hand-dug hole, more than 200m deep.