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Christiana


Christiana
 
Situated about 50 kilometres south-west of Bloemhof, and 42 kilometres north-east of  Warrenton, Christiana is principally a rural town, with imposing maize silos being the principal landmark. Christiana essentially was founded for strategic reasons. After the discovery of diamonds in the lower reaches of the Vaal river, President M.W. Pretorius needed to emphasize that this portion of the country belonged to the South African Republic (SAR). Thus a town was constructed n the banks of the Vaal River on the farm Zoutpansdrift in November 1870. It was named after Pretorius' only daughter.
 











Map showing Taung District & Vryburg District



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Diamonds were discovered close to the town two years later, prompting the customary diggers rush. It became a diggers town, serving the basic needs of the digger population. A number of diggers brought African workers with them. Christiana gained a reputation for being a rough diggers and frontier town. The diggings are still visible a few kilometres distant from the town, and a Diggers Museum was constructed as a testament to the town's origins. That the region was once inhabited by the San is indicated by a number of Rock Art sites close to Christiana. The engravings at Stows kopje a few kilometres away have been declared a national monument.
 
During to so-called Bechuanaland Wars in the early 1880's when the mercenaries and freebooters from the SAR were expanding onto land held by the independent baTswana to the west, Christiana became a focal point for these elements, as it was close to the disputed land. Initially a number of burghers from Christiana agreed to assist the baTlhaping kgosi (chief) Mankurwane, but they were outgunned by other mercenaries backing Mankurwane's Kora rival, Mossweu. Under the command of G. J van Niekerk, a local landowner and storekeeper in Christiana, a number of white mercenaries attacked Mankurwane's principal town at Taung (see also Taung). Van Niekerk went on to become Administrator of the Republic of Stellaland, which resulted from this land invasion, and a number of Christiana burghers hoped to be long- term beneficiaries. At least 38 landowners, including the field-cornet, the district commandant and the member for the Volksraad (Parliamant) were among them. However the Stellaland Republic was short-lived, and though some of the burghers land claims were recognized, the quality of the land was poor, much of it denuded by Tlhaping wood cutters selling timber in Kimberley. The Land Commissioners, whose job it was to disentangle the land claims of the various parties, actually based themselves in Christiana. Christiana then settled into a more stable agricultural centre, producing beef, maize, sorghum and groundnuts.      
 
     


South Africa's North-West province: A Guide to its History and Heritage. © 2017

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