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Polokwane

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.