July 15, 2024

This week on Stuff The British Stole Marc Fennell delves into South Africa’s first diamond mine to uncover how the largest gem-quality diamond ultimately reached the hands of the British Royal family.

The  Cullinan diamond was last seen at King Charles’ Coronation in as the sceptre centrepiece.

It was April 1905 when a manager at the Premier Mine in South Africa was said to be completing a routine inspection over 5 metres underground and noticed a reflected light in the rough wall above him. He assumed it was a large piece of glass hammered in by colleagues as a joke. He pulled out his pocket knife just the same to poke at it… only for the knife to promptly snap. He had just found the largest gem-quality diamond ever discovered, five times the size of the Koh-I-Noor and equivalent in size to a human heart.

Indeed, for a century, it has played a vital role at the heart of the British Empire. Millions watched it on display at Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral and was seen again at King Charles’s coronation. It has been used as a political plaything of colonial powers, and its pathway to London illuminates South Africa’s multi-layered colonial history.

This episode will take Marc deep underground in the first South African diamond mine; into the workshop of the new generation young African diamond cutters and on a tour of London where Darrel Blake points out just how profitable the extraction of wealth was for Britain. He will piece together the brutal history of the Boer War, which saw Australians and Canadians sent to fight for the British Empire. A war that Churchill covered as a reporter and in which Gandhi served as an ambulance officer for the British. A war, which in the end, lay the groundwork for decades of Apartheid in South Africa.

Marc meets determined South Africans who feel that the diamond represents the stunning amount of wealth literally extracted from South Africa for the ultimate glory of colonisers. Its tale reveals a nation still coming to terms with the intergenerational theft of resources.

Monday 1 July at 8pm on ABC.

links to content on ABC

TV Tonight 

Read More 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *