A SPECIAL SPACE
The beginnings of transformation of the natural state date back to 1600AD with the stone –walled settlements of the Batswana people. They practiced agriculture and metal forging, which came with clearing of grassland for cultivation, woody biomass for fire, building material and other utilitarian goods, and the mining of surface and later, underground ore deposits. By the nineteenth century settlement and trade routes were established, and this time also saw the beginnings of successive invasions/settlement by Pedi, Ndebele and Voortrekker groups. It was also the time of missionary visits and scientific and hunting expeditions, by Voortrekker and European parties, where much of the mega fauna in the region was hunted to extinction (Carruthers, 2015).
Battles were fought throughout the region during the South African War of 1899 – 1902. These battles have been well documented and showcased by vibrant and active historical enthusiasts.
The towns of Rustenburg and Pretoria were already established, and the railway between these towns, opened in 1906, serviced the first European exports from the region. The pioneering discoveries of substantial mineral deposits began from 1865, when chrome was discovered north of the Magaliesberg in the bushveld complex, as well as small deposits of other minerals (silver and copper). Gold was discovered in 1875 in the Cradle of Humankind around Kromdraai, where one of the earliest goldmines on the Witwatersrand, Kromdraai Goldmine is open to visitors. Limestone for gold processing was mined in this dolomite region shortly after (Durand, 2010).
About a hundred years ago, the beginnings of political social engineering (apartheid) saw ancestral Tswana and Ndebele territories being declared ‘tribal areas’ in the north while all other land was owned by British and Boer farmers. So called ‘Tribal Areas’ later became the Homeland of Bophuthatswana, and the source of labour for the platinum mining industry which took off from 1920 (Carruthers, 2002).