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Cecil Rhodes' Final Project: A Profile of Kimberley and the Compounds

Like Clifton-Morenci, Kimberley was (and remains) situated on the frontier, far removed from the populated cities of Cape Town to the southwest and Johannesburg to the northeast.  The area was once contested territory, bordering between the Boer Republics and Cape Colony, and during the 124 day Siege of Kimberley, the continual shell shots, food rations, and severed telegraph lines gave the town an even deeper sense of isolation and frontier ruggedness.   But Rhodes and De Beers had always maintained a level of control over the town and its people that could not be matched in copper mining regions of the American southwest.  The company shaped their own versions of community and working life and maintained unprecedented levels of control over its employees.  Kenilworth became Rhodes idyllic vision of what a community could look like – filled with orchards, gardens, and wide avenues.  Rhodes envisioned and executed a different plan for his African employees, and once inside the compound, men’s freedoms were severely restricted.  Rhodes and De Beers could not, however, control the community that flourished inside the compound walls.  Men bonded with family in common rituals and developed new relationships playing sports, attending church, or reading the paper.  As men struggled to make sense of their position as workers, migrants, and ultimately, citizens, these bonds became important elements of their battles. Chapter 2 - Sixteen Tons

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