Chic African Culture Africa Factbook

Discovery of Diamonds Changed Zulu Clan Life Forever

Discovery of African Diamonds and the Zulu Clan

Discovery of diamonds in 1867 near the Vaal River in South Africa changed African Zulu life forever. The subsequent diamond rush and the establishment of diamond mining operations brought about profound changes to the social, economic, and political landscape of the region.

Before the discovery of diamonds, the Zulu people, under the leadership of their king, had a primarily agrarian lifestyle, relying on subsistence farming and cattle herding. The arrival of European diamond prospectors and the influx of migrant laborers seeking opportunities in the diamond mines disrupted traditional Zulu ways of life.

The discovery of diamonds in South Africa and the Zulu Kingdom in 1879 fought the Anglo-Zulu War with the British Empire. The Zulu nation was defeated and blacks and diamond mines came under control Colony of Natal and later the Union of South Africa.

Many Zulu people were forced to work in the mines as laborers, leaving behind their agricultural pursuits and disrupting the social fabric of their communities. The colonial authorities and mining companies exerted control over the diamond fields, leading to the imposition of mining regulations, land dispossession, and the loss of traditional rights and practices.

The Zulu people, like other African communities, experienced the negative effects of colonialism, as their autonomy and sovereignty were eroded by the interests of the colonial powers and the mining industry.

Zulu Singer sewing machine advertisement card.

Changes in the Zulu Kingdom After the Discovery of Gold and Diamonds

The discovery of gold and diamonds in 1867 near the Vaal River changed Zulu life forever. The Zulu Kingdom, in 1879 fought the Anglo-Zulu War with the British Empire.British troops invaded the Zulu kingdom 5,000 strong, in January 1879 but within days the British were defeated by the Zulu warriors at the battle of Isandlwana.

Zulu warriors massacred around 1,350 British troops at their camp in the first days of the battle of Isandlwana. This was an early win, but the Zulu nation was eventually defeated and came under the control of the Colony of Natal and later to be named the Union of South Africa.

The capture of the Zulu leader Cetshwayo kaMpande who was the nephew of the legendary Shaka Zulu, in August 1879 ended the Anglo-Zulu war after 6-months of fighting.

Proud Zulu Clan

Twenty-six years later from May 1, 1893, to October 30, 1893, about 716,881 people attended the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The day also honored the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Forty-six nations participated in the expositions 6-month event.

The Columbian Exposition Midway’s featured a replication of a "Street in Cairo”. The "Street in Cairo," was one of the first amusement shows to introduce exotic dancing to America, needless to say, it was the most successful midway attraction in the exposition.

The Singer sewing machine advertisement card, which was distributed at the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago 1893, depicts Zulu clan members dressed in British fashion, barefoot and seeming bond at the ankles. The Singer sewing ad is very different from independent semi-nomadic pastoralists of the Zulu nation just 30 years earlier.

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