Chapter 3

NCERT
Class 10
History
Solutions
1. Find out more about gold and diamond mining in South Africa in the nineteenth century. Who controlled the gold and diamond companies? Who were the miners and what were their lives like?

Question:

Find out more about gold and diamond mining in South Africa in the nineteenth century. Who controlled the gold and diamond companies? Who were the miners and what were their lives like?

Answer:

  • During the 19th century in South Africa, gold was discovered in Johannesburg and diamonds in Kimberly. Soon European migrants began mining of gold and diamonds in South Africa, when from 1886 onwards, the mining business became highly profitable. This can be attested by the data that South Africa was producing world’s 27% gold from 1886 to 1914 (the year of the First World War).
  • Cecil Rhodes was the first European to create a Gold and diamond mining monopoly buying up land and forming De Beers, today World’s largest diamond producing company.
  • Mining companies were controlled by Europeans and Americans, as many of white settlers migrated to South Africa; with the desire of making huge profits in the mining industry. They also introduced technological advances and deep mining techniques so that profits could be increased.
  • The workers on the mining fields were African natives, and most of them migrated to South Africa, from other parts and colonial states of African continents.

The mining worker lived a miserable life. For example:

  • They were paid ten times lower wages than the white workmen.
  • Apartheid (racism): The discovery of gold and diamonds in Sourthern Africa led to apartheid (racism) from as early as 1889.
  • In 1889 a chamber of mines was formed by European industrial nations mainly to reduce African wages. This was to increase the profitability of mines. This increased racial attack on African blacks, as they were a dissatisfied lot and lives miserable lives.

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