The LONG and WINDING RHODES – #2 (South African Diamonds, Monopolies, Genocide)

 I recognize readers may be less fascinated with the topic than I, so our Rhode here is segmented in to a number of curves, more by size than by subject matter.  This person has indeed helped shape history since the late 1800s, I do encourage persisting through this trek!   I learned a lot writing it up.

If you have ever heard the phrase “Diamonds are Forever,” and are wearing one now, this is part of the history. If font sizes are an issue, please adjust view/zoom feature on your screen.  The olive-green background section is Cecil Rhodes biography from the site below.  I have interspersed sections from the other POV (those of the natives being displaced, sometimes murdered, in the Scramble for Africa).  Towards the bottom, it goes into German genocide of two tribes (Herero and Namaqua) on Shark Island, which became a model for the concentration camps of the Holocaust.

On noticing that Cecil Rhodes helped consolidate diamond mining companies in a certain region into “De Beers” I inserted a (purple-background) section from this century about an anti-trust lawsuit against DeBeers for price-fixing diamonds, this settlement and distribution dates to 2012:

Summary of the Settlement

De Beers is the largest supplier of rough diamonds in the world. Beginning in 2001, Plaintiffs in several states filed lawsuits against De Beers in state and federal courts alleging that De Beers unlawfully monopolized the supply of diamonds, conspired to fix, raise, and control diamond prices, and issued false and misleading advertising. De Beers denies it violated the law or did anything wrong.

{**I’m not so hot on the “age of the sages” site, but it had this a bio. near the top of the search results, and short enough}  I’m supplementing it — a lot, below..

Cecil Rhodes (Cecil John Rhodes) was born on July 5th, 1853 in Bishop’s Stortford, HertfordshireEngland where his father was a clergyman. The fifth son amongst a family of nine children he was afforded a grammar school education until he was diagnosed with a tubercular lung condition at age sixteen and doctors advised his parents to send him out to South Africa so as to benefit from the country’s drier climate.

In 1870 Rhodes sailed off to southern Africa where he joined his eldest brother Herbert, who was trying his hand at farming in the coastal region of Natal. In the same year, diamonds – which had unexpectedly been discovered for the first time in southern Africa two years before – were suddenly being found in staggering quantities in the inland area now known as Kimberley. When Cecil arrived in Durban in September he found that Herbert had already departed for the diamond area. When Herbert returned to where Cecil was lodging with friends he related that he had had only a very little success diamond hunting.

In March 1871 Herbert left again for the diamond fields whilst Cecil remained tending crops expecting to earn a return sufficient to meet the cost of a university education. In happened however that crop prices fell dramatically leaving no chance of profit and in October Cecil followed Herbert in seeking his fortune as a diamond hunter.

By 1873 Rhodes finances were sufficiently established through his involvements in the diamond fields as to fund his hoped for education and he travelled back to England to pursue studies at Oxford University‘s Oriel College. It happened however that his health was again very seriously threatened, this time as a result of a bout of pneumonia contracted after a wet day’s rowing on the river Thames, and he had to spend some more time in Africa returning periodically to work towards his degree.

Alongside his own control of several diamond workings Rhodes also proved to be an astute businessman. At one time he arranged for the largest capacity water pump in southern Africa to be hauled to Kimberly where it was used in keeping diamond workings open during the seasonal rains. In the dry season this pump was able to be used in the production of a scarce and desireable commodity – Ice Cream.


Rhodes was instrumental in amalgamating the major mining interests of Kimberley into one organisation, De Beers Mining Company, which he finally established, under his own control but with a junior partner named Charles Dunell Rudd, in April 1880. A primary aim of this company being an attempt to regulate the mining and sale of diamonds. Rhodes considered that diamonds are not really intrinsically valuable and that the demand for them was essentially related to young couples looking to become engaged. Given the profusion of diamonds at Kimberly Rhodes considered that unless care were taken the market could be flooded bringing down prices.

Fast-forward over a century to the United States:ANTI-TRUST LITIGATION, 2004ff:

The De Beers diamonds antitrust class actionsought to end an alleged 60-year conspiracy to fix the price of rough diamonds in the U.S. by the De Beers group of companies. The litigation includes several cases including Hopkins v. De Beers Centenary A.G., et al., No. CGC-04-432954, which commenced on July 24, 2004, and Sullivan v. DB Investments, No. 04-cv-02819, and earlier related cases that commenced in 2001.

The complaints charged that De Beers had created a global cartel in the markets of rough and polished diamonds – with a market share that reached nearly as high 90% – through aggressive management of supply and prices, and collusive agreements with competitors, suppliers, and distributors. This was a quintessential antitrust violation of theSherman Act.[1]


Summary of the Settlement

De Beers is the largest supplier of rough diamonds in the world. Beginning in 2001, Plaintiffs in several states filed lawsuits against De Beers in state and federal courts alleging that De Beers unlawfully monopolized the supply of diamonds, conspired to fix, raise, and control diamond prices, and issued false and misleading advertising. De Beers denies it violated the law or did anything wrong.

The Settlement Agreement provides that $22.5 Million be distributed to the Direct Purchaser Class, and that $272.5 Million will be distributed to the Indirect Purchaser Class. De Beers also agrees to refrain from engaging in certain conduct that violates federal and state antitrust laws and submit to the jurisdiction of the Court to enforce the Settlement.


Bloomberg News August 2012:

By Carli Cooke – Aug 15, 2012 10:01 AM PT

..De Beers, being taken over by Anglo American (AAL) Plc, is studying U.S. diamond retailing and polishing after settling lawsuits that had prevented it operating directly in the biggest market for the gems for more than 60 years.

“We couldn’t do business in the U.S. since 1948,” Chief Executive Officer Philippe Mellier, 56, said in an interview. “That’s clearly one of the avenues we’d like to pursue, to grow the business as De Beers in a much bigger way in the U.S.” …

A $295 million agreement by De Beers, the largest diamond supplier by sales, to settle antitrust suits became effective in May, ending restrictions on U.S. operations. The nation accounts for about 45 percent of diamond-jewelry sales. De Beers operates 10 De Beers Diamond Jewellers stores in the U.S. through a tie- up with Paris-based LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA.

The joint venture stores were set up with a “completely independent management team” before the final settlement, De Beers said in an e-mailed response to questions.

“It’s not like it hasn’t been operating in the U.S., it just hasn’t been operating directly in the U.S.,” Omar Saad, an analyst at International Strategy & Investment Group LLC in New York, said today by telephone. “Is it better for De Beers to be able to control its distribution and operations in the world’s largest diamond market? Yes. Is it a massive shift in the competitive landscape? I doubt it, at least not anytime soon.”

Oppenheimer Family

The company, with mines in BotswanaCanadaSouth Africaand off the Namibian coast, isn’t ruling out setting up its own diamond cutting and polishing facilities in the U.S. “Not now, but never say never,” Mellier said near Gaborone in Botswana.

Anglo American is buying the Oppenheimer family’s** 40 percent in De Beers for $5.1 billion, increasing the company’s holding to 85 percent. Botswana owns the rest of the business.

{{NOTE: Anglo-American also had an Oppenheimer on the board from its start (1917) until just recently (2011? see below…Anglo-American  in re: apartheid is another side of this coin…}}

The deal should be effective “within days,” Mellier said in the interview yesterday. “We are going to agree” with Anglo “and implement ideas to grow the business,” he said.

Mellier joined the company in July 2011, marking a break with De Beers’ tradition of internal hiring. An engineer with a background in cars and trains, Mellier had been vice president for Alstom SA’s rail equipment and transportation services

***re: the name Oppenheimers:  Link is to Wikipedia on Harry Frederick Oppenheimer (1908-2000), who was born in Kimberly and very active in DeBeers . Article has a Wiki warning and is written kind of awkward but shows their DeBeers / Anglo involvement..

“Harry Oppenheimer was the chairman of Anglo American Corporation for a quarter of a century and chairman of De Beers Consolidated Mines for 27 years until he retired from those positions in 1982 and 1984 respectively. His son Nicky Oppenheimer became Deputy Chairman of Anglo in 1983 and Chairman of De Beers in 1998″  (More below this box on Anglo, Oppenheimer, DeBeers, and global politics, 1900s)

BACK TO THE 1800s and Cecil Rhodes. {{To get further picture on Rhodes, see also “the Great African Scramble” and other points of view, i.e., chart below discussions on Anglo American and Oppenheimers…}}

Rhodes finally graduated in 1881 and in that same year gained one of the newly established parliamentary seats in Barkly West, near Kimberley, that he was to hold for the remainder of his life. After this election as a member of the Cape Parliament much of Rhodes’ irrepressible energy was directed towards his expansionary plans – his ultimate dream being `to paint the map (British) red’ from `Cape to Cairo.


This Wikipedia Article on the “Cape to Cairo Railway” is better written and describes how while Great Britain (mostly energized by Cecil Rhodes) sought to ” to connect adjacent African possessions of the British Empire through a continuous line fromCape TownSouth Africa to CairoEgypt. “Meanwhile, France was working on “West to East” however ran into the British on the Nile, leading to an incident, and a French defeat “Fashoda Incident”)

The Fashoda Incident or “Fashoda Crisis” (1898) was the climax of imperial territorial disputes between Britainand France in Eastern Africa. A French expedition toFashoda on the White Nile sought to gain control of theNile River and thereby force Britain out of Egypt. The British held firm as Britain and France were on the verge of war. …Though the French force was larger, the British had them outgunned. *** The French army was far larger than the British one, but there was little it would have been able to do against Britain without efficient naval support.

MEANWHILE, Portugal was working on the Pink Map (of territories) Angola to Mozambique:

“The Pink Map collided with Cecil Rhodes‘ “Cape to Cairo Red Line“. The dispute with the United Kingdom over these territories led to the 1890 British Ultimatum, to which Portugal gave in, causing serious damage to the image of the Portuguese monarchy, and the subsequent rise of the Republican political movement.”

Part of my theme here is brute technological force used by Rhodes against the natives.  I learned that this included an American-invention machine gun, “the Maxim.”   Here’s another take on the “Fashoda” incident in which they diplomatically agreed (French & Brits) not to slaughter each other and go to war in the process of carving up Africa….

***#Background: The Fashoda Crisis (from “Marshall Boulanger and the Great Fashoda War“)

By 1898, the Race for Africa – the carving up of the continent by expansionist European powers – had nearly ended. Britain and France were the major winners, both having the first ‘modern’ colonies as legacies of the Napoleonic Wars: Algeria for France, Egypt and the Cape (South Africa) for Britain. …

Vital to both French and British interests was the Sudan.

Sudan was nominally a holding of Egypt, and in reality, just as with Egypt, was controlled by Britain. However, much of it was still largely unexplored, much less effectively claimed. Beginning in 1881, the Mahdi revolt, a native Islamic jihad, broke out in Sudan against colonial forces. By 1898, it had largely but not entirely been suppressed (the last major battle, at Omdurman, would take place during the Fashoda Crisis). Seeing their chance, the French command ordered three small forces (one from its west Africa holdings, two from its East) to march on the small Sudanese town of Fashoda and claim it for France. Located along the Nile, it was the spot of a small British fort and occupied an essential strategic position to both French and British plans.

Only the West African force – less than 200 infantrymen – arrived on July 10 under Major Jean-Baptiste Marchand. They remained there for five weeks until September 18, at which time British General Horatio Kitchener arrived. Sixteen days earlier, Kitchener had commanded the British army that had defeated the Mahdists at Omdurman; his forces included new Maxim guns, a flotilla of gunboats on the Nile, the existing British fort and garrison, and 25,000 mixed regular and colonial soldiers. Over tea, General Kitchener and Major Marchand cordially and politely insisted that they each had the correct claim while refusing the other’s request to vacate. Their behaviors could not be more different from their countrymen back home, where Briton and Frenchman alike were appalled at the affront to national sovereignty.


Other aspirations were also stirring in southern Africa. A numerous Dutch (Boer or Farmer) opinion being inclined to favour the formation of a United States of South Africa that was to include such Boer republics of the Transvaal. Rhodes strove to modify this aspiration towards any such Union operating within the British Empire.

On May 2nd 1883 the first German protected territory outside Europe came into being when a young merchant named Fritz Luderitz acted on Bismarck’s consent in extending such protection by running up the German flag over his own trading station on the Atlantic coast south of the Congo. The possibility of a rival Dutch or German colonisation to the north of Cape Colony allowed the British to view their own control of that area with favour. Rhodes’ interest in expansionism led to his appointment in 1884 as resident deputy commissioner in Bechuanaland a territory to the north that Rhodes hoped to see attached to Cape Colony.

READ THIS LINK (On how extermination of natives for attempting to protect their lands in “German Southwest Africa” and death camps on “Shark Island” (in the Atlantic) paved the way, and was literally practice for the Holocaust. Found through simply looking up “Fritz Luderitz.”):

The link is actually to an art gallery Ezakwantu.com1 with amazing visuals and historical information on the various tribes as well.

Central and Southern African Tribal Art



For example:

19th Century Southern African Tribal Wars / “Mfecane-Lifaqane-Difaqane-Xenophobia”,

“Tragedy on a vast scale struck southern Africa in the early 1800’s. The event was named the Mfecane “the crushing” by the Nguni and Difaqane “the scattering of tribes” by the Sotho-Tswana. Europeans called the catastrophe the “Wars of Calamity”. By 1825, two and half million starving, homeless people wandered about southern Africa looking for respite.”

The Mfecane “Difaqane” – Tribal Migration between 1818 and 1935

The causes of the Mfecane were many. Starting in 1800, a long drought made southern Africa inhospitable. People moved in search of food and fought for meager supplies, producing the Difaqane. The entire Sotho-Tswana region had fallen into a state of anarchy. One clan conquered the other, only to be defeated by another.

Shaka Zulu (1787 – 1828)

The Mfecane gave rise to Shaka Zulu. In less than two decades, a powerful Zulu empire arose from a typical Bantu decentralized pastoral society. Shaka had created a highly centralized, well organized nation-state, with a large and powerful standing army.

Refugee groups escaping Chaka’s anger, invaded the lands of present-day Botswana. …Setting towns on fire, the Ndebele swept ahead of the Zulu Impi to settle in present day Zimbabwe, where they absorbed others and became the Matabele.

{{Relevant in the Cecil Rhodes history ….  In part, he helped provoke a Matabele War.  Zimbabwe was formerly “Rhodesia,” etc.  “Rhodesia” was used from about 1895 to describe area administered by Rhodes “British South Africa Company“See 1960s, Race issues, Ian Smith, etc.}}

Along the way they ((Ndebele / Matabele)) encountered King Thulare’s Pedi empire, which was destroyed. They attacked the Mokololo to the northwest, who were Sotho-Tswana ‘s speakers from the south pushing north. Forced off their lands, many Nguni and Tswana peoples collided with the Voortrekkers moving from the south. The Xhosa expanded into Khoi-khoi lands. Some Khoi-khoi retreated into the Kalahari Desert. Others were killed or enslaved by the Voortrekkers.

OK, more details on Cecil Rhodes’ involvement in this area, and what it was about, understanding that a lot of tribes were in transition and the centralized power group at the time was the Zulu state. (this is new material to me, so check facts yourself).

In 1837 the Shona were conquered by the Ndebele, an offshoot of the Zulus who had split from Shaka and migrated north in response to the Zulu mfecane. Later in the nineteenth century, British and Boer traders, missionaries, and hunters began encroaching on the area.

Part of Great Zimbabwe


In 1888 British imperialist Cecil Rhodes extracted mining rights from King Lobengula of the Ndebele.

In 1889 Rhodes obtained a charter for the British South Africa Company [“BSAC”], which conquered the Ndebele and their territory (named “Rhodesia” in 1895 after Cecil Rhodes) and promoted the colonization of the region and its land, labor, and precious metal and mineral resources. This was the beginning of forced removal of Africans from land considered to be reserved for whites. The black majority was forced to move to poor lands for farming. Both the Ndebele and the Shona staged unsuccessful revolts against white colonialist encroachment on their native lands in 1896-1897.

In 1911 the territory was divided into Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and Southern Rhodesia, the latter becoming a self-governing British colony in 1922. In 1953 the two parts of Rhodesia were reunited in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and after its dissolution in 1963, the whites demanded independence from Southern Rhodesia (Rhodesia from 1964).


I am setting the stage for the German treatment of some of these tribes… back to ezkwantu gallery source.

Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012  / ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

Herero and Namaqua Genocide

“Irrefutable evidence confirms [German Lt. General von Trotha, sent in to crush uprising]  and his troops laid the foundation

of Hitler’s Third Reich German killing machine”

During the “Scramble for Africa”, Brittan (sic) showed a lack of interest in the predominantly desert area of South  West Africa. It was declared a German protectorate in 1884 and named German South West Africa (Deutsch-Südwestafrika). German settlers were encouraged to settle on Herero land which caused a great deal of discontent. From the 1890’s – the colonial government gradually deprived the Herero and Nama of their nomadic freedoms and livelihood. A plague known as the Rinderpest decimated Herero and Nama cattle throughout the late 1890’s. German encroachment on the pastoral way of life together with hunger, prompted the Herero uprising in 1904. It was led by Herero Supreme Chief Samual Maharero.

The Herero or Ovaherero – were nomadic herdsman who at the time of European contact, lived in Namibia and Botswana. The Herero are thought to have migrated into present day Namibia during from the seventeenth century. At some point they came into contact and conflict with another pastoral people known as Nama – Hottentot or Khoi Khoi….The Nama or Namaqua are today the largest group of Khoisan people. Khoisan – ‘KhoiKhoi or KhoeKhoe’, have resided in Southern Africa for 1000’s of years.

When colonial settlers arrived in the Cape in 1652, they found the Khoi raising huge herds of Nguni cattle. At that time they referred to the people as Hottentots. By the 19th century, Dutch settlers had already been mixing with the Nama for 200 years, and so many Nama had names of European origin. The Nama had access to guns and as a result, confronted the Herero for the most part of the 19th century through warfare.

Chief Maharero gave very specific instructions that only farmers, traders and soldiers would be attacked. He explicitly stated that missionaries, Britons and Boers were not to be harmed. In most cases, the Herero warriors followed Maharero’s instructions to the letter – sparing women, children, missionaries and non-Germans. The Herero cut telegraph wires, destroyed railway lines, stole cattle and overran smaller military stations. Initially about 150 Germans were killed, which provoked colonial outrage. The mere fact the ‘savages’ had the audacity to challenge white claims of superiority and lands in ‘their colony’, enhanced racist attitudes which had always been rife amongst the settler population..

The colonial administrator of German Southwest Africa, Theodor Leutwein, was replaced by Lieutenant General Adrian Dietrich Lothar von Trotha, who had instructions to crush the native rebellion – buy fair or foul means. He was chosen for the mission for his ‘earned’ reputation of ruthless brutality towards peoples of other lands. Irrefutable evidence confirms he and his troops laid the foundation of Hitler’s Third Reich German killing machine. A BBC documentary entitled; From Herero To Hitler: Planting the Seeds of a Future Genocide – defines it. Adolf Hitler was 15 years old at this time…

With the use of 1625 modern rifles, 14 machine guns and 30 artillery pieces, General Lothar von Trotha slaughtered the Herero at the battle of Waterberg.

In the months that followed, survivors were pushed into the Omaheke desert to die of thirst and starvation. Once beyond the last waterholes, he placed guard posts hundreds of kilometers in length to ensure no Herero would return. Water wells were systematically poisoned.

Once in place, he did something unprecedented in European history. He put to paper the Vernichtungsbefehl or extermination order. It said; I, the great general of the German troops, send this letter to the Herero people… All Herero’s must leave this land… Any Herero found within the German borders, with or without a gun, with or without cattle, will be shot. I shall no longer receive any women or children. I will drive them back to their people or have them fired upon. This is my decision for the Herero people..


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