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Jade Davenport

Jade Davenport

DAVENPORT, MA (UCT), is a freelance journalist and historian –

Columnist - Digging Deep

There’s gold in them thar mountains

By: Jade Davenport     7th March 2014 Capetonians have a tendency to condescendingly regard mining as a dirty and dangerous, although vaguely necessary, activity that is pursued somewhere in the northern reaches of South Africa. Much to their relief, it is an occupation far removed from their somewhat idyllic way of life and... 

The Karoo’s mini gold bonanza

By: Jade Davenport     21st February 2014 It is generally accepted in the historical mining narrative that South Africa’s phenomenal era of gold discovery, rushes and mining started around 1873, when extensive and payable quantities of alluvial gold were discovered in places such as Spitzkop, MacMac and Pilgrim's Rest, in the area then... 

'Pilgrim's Protector' urges heritage compliance

By: Jade Davenport     31st January 2014 For the last 16 months, a shroud of uncertainty veiled the business community of Pilgrims Rest, as it has waited with bated breath for the outcome of the Public Protector’s investigation into controversial allegations of maladministration and irregularities in the awarding of tenders for shop... 

Mandela and his brief mining career

By: Jade Davenport     17th January 2014 In the aftermath of the passing of former President Nelson Mandela last month, the world has mourned and reflected, quite rightly, on the enormous contribution he made in liberating South Africa from the suffocating grip of apartheid and for the role he played in leading the country to a... 

Modderfontein museum preserving dynamite history

By: Jade Davenport     6th December 2013 The use of explosive material, particularly dynamite, has played an integral, although somewhat understated, role in facilitating the development and growth of South Africa’s mighty mining industry for more than a century. Indeed, it is all very well having the richest treasure trove of metals... 

SA’s phenomenal mineral revolution

6th December 2013 Before the advent of its great mineral revolution in the latter half of the nineteenth century, South Africa was a sleepy colonial backwater whose unpromising landscape was seemingly devoid of any economic potential. Yet just beneath the dusty surface of the land lay the richest treasure trove of... 

Museum preserving Millwood gold rush history

By: Jade Davenport     15th November 2013 The Garden Route, stretching from Mossel Bay to the Storms river along the south-eastern coastline, is undoubtedly one of South Africa’s premier and most popular tourist attractions. It is in that coastal corridor that ancient forests, rivers, wetlands, dunes, mountain scenery and indigenous... 

A glimpse into Bronze Age copper mining

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     11th October 2013 On a recent trip to the UK, a few very dear and long-suffering family members decided to indulge my obsessive interest in mining history by taking me on a visit to two of Britain’s flagship mining tourist attractions. 

The 1987 mine strike

By: Jade Davenport     27th September 2013 The Soweto Uprising of June 16, 1976, in which, according to official estimates, 176 people were killed, had a profound impact on the trajectory of South Africa’s political history.  

Lest we forget

By: Jade Davenport     13th September 2013 Last month, South Africans marked the first anniversary of the Marikana Massacre, in which 34 people were shot dead and 78 more injured during a wildcat strike at Lonmin’s Marikana mine.  

When white mineworkers downed tools

By: Jade Davenport     6th September 2013 In its relatively short history as a unified country, South Africa has been exposed to very few revolutionary incidents led by white citizens. The most serious such incident was undoubtedly the 1922 Rand Revolt, in which the violent protests and armed riots undertaken by 22 000 striking white... 

The lead-up to the 1922 Rand Revolt

By: Jade Davenport     16th August 2013 During the first three months of 1922, at a time when South Africa was gripped by a severe economic depression, 22 000 white employees working in the Witwatersrand’s coal and gold mines, engineering workshops and power utilities downed their tools and took part in a strike of such magnitude that... 

When black mineworkers downed tools

By: Jade Davenport     2nd August 2013 the immediate wake of the 1913 white miners strike, when roughly 9 000 black workers went on strike for three days over low wages and poor living conditions in mine compounds. 

The miners strike that led to chaos on Joburg’s Market Square

By: Jade Davenport     19th July 2013 The month of July marks the centennial of the culmination of the 1913 white mineworkers strike on the Rand. Although it was not the first large-scale industrial action to affect South Africa’s mining industry, it certainly was the first strike to erupt in violent clashes between miners and the... 

The Rand’s first strike

By: Jade Davenport     5th July 2013 South Africa’s trade union movement, which is today the largest on the African continent, has, for more than a century, played one of the most influential roles in determining labour market and industrial relations policies. 

SA's first industrial action

By: Jade Davenport     14th June 2013 For the last year, South Africa’s mining industry, particularly its flagship platinum-group metals sector, has been wracked by labour unrest and debilitating strike action. Such has been the scale of the violent industrial action that 44 miners lost their lives in Marikana last year and the... 

Gold in the Land Down Under

18th January 2013 At the very height of the Californian Gold Rush it is estimated that of the 300,000 fortune hunters that flocked to the west coast of North America about one percent came from the British colony of New South Wales. Among such adventurers was a man by the name of Edward Hargraves. 

‘Gold! Gold! Gold on the American river’

23rd November 2012 On a fine spring morning in 1848 Samuel Brannan, an American settler, entrepreneur and journalist, paraded through the streets of the tiny village of San Francisco brandishing a small bottle of gold dust shouting, “Gold! Gold! Gold in the American River!”. Such was the flamboyant and calculated... 

Gold fever infects sporting enthusiasts

2nd November 2012 Gold panning – a traditional form of individualistic mining that extracts gold from placer deposits using a pan – is an activity largely associated with the bygone era of the famous Californian, Australian, Canadian and South African gold rushes of the nineteenth century. It conjures up images of... 

The Brazilian gold rush

12th October 2012 Perhaps the most popular and romantic aspect of the history of gold is the narrative of the various gold rushes that lured hundreds of thousands of people, literally, to the four corners of the globe during the eighteenth and, more notably, the nineteenth centuries. Such popularity can partly be... 

The legend of El Dorado

28th September 2012 Stories and legends of the quest for and discovery of fabulous golden treasure dominate the popular history and mythology of gold. No legend is more popular than that of the search for El Dorado, the ‘Lost City of Gold’. It is a legend that has endured for the better part of four centuries,... 

Spanish conquistadors and the looting of Mexican, Peruvian gold treasures 

By: Jade Davenport     7th September 2012 The epic voyage undertaken by Christopher Columbus in 1492-93, which led to the discovery of the Americas, sparked an unprecedented wave of exploration in what was described as the ‘New World’.  

Gold, silver in Medieval Europe

By: Jade Davenport     24th August 2012 The decline of the Roman Empire during the fourth century CE largely resulted in widespread political and economic chaos in western Europe. Such chaotic conditions endured for the better part of four centuries, which is a period that is, not surprisingly, referred to as the Dark Ages.  

Gold mining during the Classical Period

By: Jade Davenport     3rd August 2012 Perhaps the most constant theme that has characterised the progression of human society from the dawn of civilization, more than seven thousand years ago, to the present day is man’s complete obsession with gold.  

Historic gold mining village under threat

13th July 2012 It is necessary for a moment to pause the narrative of the general history of gold mining to reflect upon the situation that is currently confronting business owners and inhabitants of the historic gold mining village of Pilgrims Rest in Mpumulanga.  

The gold mining legend of King Solomon’s Mines

29th June 2012 Perhaps the most famous legend concerning gold and the mining thereof is the narrative of King Solomon’s Mines in the legendary land of Ophir.  

Gold mining in ancient Egypt  

8th June 2012 The historical narrative of South Africa’s mining industry has been, and to a certain degree continues to be, dominated by the story of gold mining. 

South Africa and its mining heritage

By: Jade Davenport     25th May 2012 South Africa’s mineral revolution, which was prompted by the development of Kimberley’s diamond mining industry and more profoundly shaped by the discovery and exploitation of gold on the Witwatersrand during the latter quarter of the nineteenth century, has been the one factor that has most... 

Nationalisation, labour history come under the spotlight at Joburg jamboree

4th May 2012 The history of mining, in general terms and most especially in South Africa, is often discussed not as a subject in its own right but more as a historical backdrop to the broader narrative of economic history.  

The City of Gold to host mining history conference

By: Jade Davenport     6th April 2012 In three weeks time, Johannesburg will host the ninth annual International Mining History Congress (IMHC), the aim of which is to bring together practitioners of mining history in all its forms in order to exchange recent research findings. 

Mining folklore

16th March 2012 It can certainly be said that superstition is an inherent characteristic of human nature and that, while not every individual may subscribe to a belief in the supernatural, superstitious convictions do and have featured, to some extent, in the ideologies and traditions of many groups and cultures... 

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