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Africa is the use of the big word “gold field,” where the little ones, “pockets,” “placers,” or “diggings,” alone are applicable. Other minerals the Transvaal has, of which iron, coal, and copper are the principal; but none of these can be made of the slightest value until railways or tramways are constructed to bring them into connection with each other and with the coast. Cobalt also exists, and is worked in a feeble sort of way. It is unlikely that the Transvaal will ever be enriched by its export of this metal. There is also lead, and no doubt the lead-ore contains a percentage of silver. Immense quantities of lead have been dug out, smelted, and got to market. The Boer Government did all in its power to encourage this industry; but the high prices payable for transport, with the limited demand amid so small and widely scattered a population, when added to the first cost of production, forbade any hopes to be entertained that the enterprise can be even moderately successful. People must remember that the Transvaal is a very distant province indeed, and that its capital can only be arrived at after a most exhaustive uphill land journey of 400 miles from the sea, the great highway of the world's commerce. If rich in minerals, these can never be rendered available for profitable working until the country is put in connection with the sea. It is very doubtful whether it would be worth while to make a railway from the Transvaal solely on account of its alleged mineral wealth. My opinion is, that that wealth is vastly overestimated, and that the Transvaal is destined, like the Free State, to be at least for many years merely the mother of flocks and herds, and the abiding-place of a healthy, hardy, and respectable race of proprietary peasants. It will be interesting to geologists and others to learn that the entire country, from the summits of the Quathlamba to the junction of the Waal and Orange rivers, shows marks of having been swept over, and that at no very distant period, by vast masses of ice, from east to west. The striations are plainly visible, scarring the older rocks and marking the hillsides—getting lower and lower and less visible as, descending from the mountains, the kopjies stand wider apart; but wherever the hills narrow towards each other, again I
showing how the vast ice-fields were checked, thrown up, and raised against their eastern extremities. I may here mention, as the most fitting place for it, the occurrence of some very remarkable sculptured stones along the banks of lower Waal River, which do not seem to have as yet attracted the attention they merit. These sculptures are sometimes of considerable size, and are well executed, having evidently been cut with instruments of very superior temper. My attention was first attracted to them by Mr Kidger Tucker, claim agent of Kimberley, to whom I would refer inquirers, and from whom possibly could be obtained drawings of the more noteworthy. One of them, which he showed me at Riverton, was cut into the face of an enormous monolith of greenstone, the surface of which was blackened and glossy from aqueous action, the waters which had passed over it for ages having evidently been largely impregnated with iron. This work was an image of the sun, surrounded by rays, and argued the possession of very much skill in the use of stone-cutting instruments by the sculptors. Other avocations prevented me from investigating further. I have no doubt, however, that attention being once drawn to the subject, it will be followed up by those who delight in such inquiries. Another subject of interest for speculators of a scientific turn of mind ought to be whether the whole of the Kalihari desert north of Orange River, and west of the great main road leading viá Kimberley and Kuruman to the interior, must remain uninhabited. I can only say that, in a journey made in search of silver in the district between Prieska and Victoria West, in 1874, I found a number of Cape Colony farmers who seemed to consider the so-called desert likely to turn out not only habitable, but valuable. My books, containing notes on this and subsequent explorations, both north and south of the Orange River, have unfortunately been burned. Were this not so, I certainly should feel inclined to add to this book a chapter on the mineralogy of the northern border of the Cape Colony. I shall merely state, in a general way, that gold is more likely to be found in payable quantities from Prieska to Kinnairdt than in any other part of South Africa. Some alluvial gravels, occa
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sionally capped, are to be met with on the summits of the mountains close to the Orange River. Lead and silver are also to be found; but not, as I think from their surroundings, under circumstances likely to prove immediately payable. Diamonds undoubtedly exist along both banks of the Orange River, as low as Englishman's Drift, and for a considerable distance on either hand. The Cape Colony Government does not seem very anxious to develop its mineral resources. My partner and myself sent, by postcart, in July 1875, specimens of lead and silver, smelted and unsmelted, from “Banghoek,” not far from the Brak River, for the inspection of the Secretary of that Government, the receipt of which was never even acknowledged.
DESIRING as I do to present in each chapter, as far as may be possible, a complete picture of some one portion of my subject, I shall here devote considerable space to the wild Kafirs, whose name has been made use of to justify or excuse every aggression upon Boers (as well as upon English colonists) that has occurred within my memory. Bounded on the south by the Tugela, and on the east by the Indian Ocean, is a long and irregular strip of diversified country, flanked on the Transvaal side by the Drakensberg and Lobembo mountains, which may be rudely defined as the backbone of South Africa. These mountains vary in elevation at different parts, ranging from 4000 to 10,000 feet. From these inland summits, the country, very broken and rugged at first, gradually falls away into the more level grounds of the Central South African plateau. This plateau, whether it be called Orange Free State or Transvaal, is essentially the land of the Boers. It, of course, is not everywhere level; but many enormous breadths of it present prairies and plains of great size. Across and skirting this plateau run the large streams flowing from east to west, that, uniting below the Diamond Fields, form the great Orange River. The most northerly tributary, or perhaps more properly, branch, of this stream is called the Waal River, — and it constitutes the southern boundary of the Transvaal. Immediately to its north—and still, be it remembered, on the western side of the backbone—stretches east and west over a vast area,
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the Highveld, a plateau averaging 5000 feet above the sealevel. This plateau has a northerly as well as a westerly and southerly watershed. More than one-half the streams from it, after flowing to the north and north-east, sometimes for longer and sometimes for shorter distances, unite into rivers, finally turn entirely eastwards, and flow, through gaps in the backbone, down to the Indian Ocean. The country to the right, between the backbone and the sea, will be seen on the map to be rugged, broken, bushy, and apparently well watered. The great range of mountains presents a very steep face towards the sea, and from it thousands of streams descend, through its foothills, into the country at its feet. These also form rivers, and run into the Indian Ocean. This whole country to the right of the ranges, but north of Natal and the Tugela River, is Kafirland. The portion nearest to Natal is occupied by the Zulus, whose power extends along the coast itself almost to Delagoa Bay. It must be remembered that the Portuguese settlement at Delagoa Bay is small, poor, and unhealthy, and that it exercises no real influence upon east-coast savagery, amidst the vast mass of which it resembles a pin's head in a main sewer. Perched on the Drakensberg in a cave country, and a little south-west from Delagoa Bay, occupying a district resembling Wales in some respects, are the Amaswazi—a people numbering about 6000 males, of the same race, but deadly enemies to the Zulus. These Swazis live actually in the Transvaal proper, and have for years faithfully served the late Republic. With the tribes directly north of Delagoa Bay I shall not deal. They have no connection whatever with the subject this pen is engaged on. Lydenberg is the north-eastern border district of the Transvaal, and overruns the termination of the Highveld in that direction. Where the land of this district breaks away from plateau into low country and bushveld to the north, we again meet with Kafirs; but this Kafirland, by treaty with Sequati, should be bounded by the Steelport River from a point in its course opposite the southern end of the Lulu Mountains to its junction with the Oliphants River, and thence along that stream to its debouchure through the great backbone mountain. Secocoeni's country was a reserve, but not an independent state.