Eersteling Monument - Remembering the Gold Rush
Polokwane was previously known as Pietersburg. This is the capital of the Limpopo Province, and Polokwane is one of the fastest growing cities. Pietersburg was established in 1886, by Piet Joubert and fellow Voortrekkers, who migrated to the Soutpansberg Mountains for safer and healthier living. This was all during the gold rush era of the 1880’s. Pietersburg (Polokwane) only earned its city status on 23 April 1992, and had successfully grown into a major city.
The Eersteling Monument marks the site of the country’s first gold rush, and stands as a reminder of these times and pays tribute to the first gold power plant. Before the gold rush at Eersteling, just south of Polokwane, the area was a landscape inhibited by nomadic tribes, rolling hills and wide open grasslands. General Mzilikazi travelled through this area to establish his kingdom in Bulawayo, after fleeing from the feared King Shaka. In 1871, gold was discovered in Eersteling, and soon the small town was flooded with gold rush enthusiast. Prospectors came from far and wide to take advantage of the opportunities they saw in the mining of gold. The prospectors that were currently based in South Africa were searching for diamonds putting their mining skills to good use. But it was the discovery of the first profitable concentration of gold that diverted their sights. Because of the find at Eersteling, prospectors started moving into all directions in search of their own gold find, and this is how the Transvaal Goldfield was discovered. Additional goldfields were soon found, but is was the discovery of the Witwatersrand deposit, that would change the face of South African gold mining, and establish South Africa as the world leaders in the mining industry.
Eersteling also played a significant part in history, at the siege of Marabastad on 17 March 1881. The Boers brought in two old boats, with obsolete guns, and used handmade ammunition. The round shot ammunition was handcrafted from beaten iron that came from the Eersteling Mining Company.
Eersteling played such an important role in many aspects of the history in South Africa, some known, some lost to the past. But it is undoubtedly Eersteling that carries the glory, of the discovery of gold, and setting in motion a fundamental industry.