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This unit is about the mineral revolution and how the minerals were distributed.



The Mineral Revolution is a term used by historians to refer to the rapid industrialization and economic changes that occurred in South Africa from the 1870s onwards.


  • Before the minerals were discovered in South Africa. It mainly depended on agriculture.
  • The cape depended on wine and pastoral farming, Orange Free State on cereals and sheep rearing and Transvaal on sheep and cattle rearing.
  • The economy was controlled by the Europeans mainly the British and Africans provided labour.
  • Generally the economy was weak i.e. South Africa had poor communication and low standards of living.
  • Later in 1867, the diamond was discovered at Kimberly and in 1885; gold was discovered at Witwatersrand or at the Rand.
  • Other minerals like manganese were discovered in various places in South Africa.
  • By 1892, diamond export fetched more than four million pounds a year hence south Africa was experiencing a mineral revolution.
  • The minerals encouraged the development of the cash crop farming on a large scale especially around the mines
  • Later the economy changed from an agricultural to an industrial one and local markets were enlarged.
  • Communication was improved quickly and greatly for example in 1887 the Transvaal railway was constructed in 1891, the natal railway was constructed.
  • In 1892, the delgea Pretoria railway was completed and the cape railway was also finished.
  • Telephones, telegrams, roads were built and improved.
  • Boer states rapidly came out of poverty in an economic boom.
  • Rich mining companies for example De- Boers and the british Africa company was set up and heavily taxed by the boers.
  • There was growth of agricultural processing industries and urbanization took place for example in Transvaal, Johannesburg, Vereniging among others.
  • The white population in the interior increased and the migrant system labour developed.
  • Banks were constructed for example the standard orient bank. Modern steamers were introduced on the Orange and Vaal river.
  • The price of land in areas around the mine rose and many Africans sold much the inland.
  • Africans massively started searching for cash jobs leading to rural-urban migration.



  • Some Africans got chances for new jobs in the mines
  • They got market for their agricultural produces especially near the mines
  • It led to rural-urban migration as Africans went to town they were powerless
  • There was social disintegration as husbands separated from their wives
  • Africans were discriminated in employment centres as they were given lowly jobs.
  • Africans who migrated to the cities lived in camps reserves and shantytowns for example Soweto.
  • Africans lost their independence
  • Africans lost their land where the minerals were located for example Griqualand
  • There was a breakdown of African culture and traditional practices
  • There was an emergency of new African behavior for example money not wives and cows became the new symbols of success and status.
  • The marriage was postponed and tended to be monogamous
  • New elite class emerged and included men, for example, Luthuli Albert and Walter Sisulu
  • A cash economy was introduced though Africans were paid low wages
  • Africans were forced to work on contract
  • Africans acquired bad European habits, for example, prostitution crime and alcoholism.
  • They lost their lives in mine accidents and got European diseases
  • British influence over Africans increased and they annexed Swaziland, Lesotho and Botswana.
The workers in the mines


  • They were put into an industrial revolution as gold and diamonds became and life led to many industries.
  • It increased their wealth and their capital investment
  • Bad practices for example prostitution, theft and crimes increased
  • They became richer especially in the infrastructures for example Delgia Transvaal railway and natal Transvaal railway were constructed by 1891.
  • Steamships linked south Africa plus telephones, telegraph and bridges
  • Social infrastructure for example banks, schools, hospitals came into existence
  • It led to growth of towns for example Pretoria, Johannesburg
  • The whites conquered some African states as their military strength increased
  • There was an influx of British settles called utilanders into Transvaal
  • Britain encircled the Boer state so as to occupy them
  • British imperialism increased and they fronted the idea of a federation which the Boers rejected
  • It led to the Anglo Boer wars of 1880-1881, 1895 and 1899-1902
  • It led to loss or destruction of property between the Boers and British
  • It strengthened Boer nationalism and unity
  • It led to rise of new strong men for example Paul Kruger and Cecil Rhodes
  • It increased the prosperity of the cape which on her own without help from Britain
  • This led to the cape limited independence in 1872


ASSIGNMENT : MINERAL REVOLUTION assignment MARKS : 10  DURATION : 1 week, 3 days