GONG-GONG… OUR HERITAGE, OUR HOME.
A history of Gong-Gong
This piece does not in any way purport to be scientific or a thesis of any kind. It is based on records available to us and on the oral history as passed on from generation to generation.
The early years
The land was transferred to Mr. William Pussey on 13 May 1880. Prior to that day it was the property of the London Exploration Company.
In 1879, on 22 February, portion 223/1940 was transferred to Mr. Frederick Johannes Waldeck. Mr. Waldeck is the ancestor of many of the people that lived & continue to live on Gong-Gong. Paulus Williams, Petrus (Pouka) Waldeck, Henry Kock, Connie & Frank Williams are all descendants of Mr. Waldeck. There are many more.
On 21 December 1955 the farm was proclaimed alluvial diggings as per the Government Gazette dated 15 January 1954. This meant that the area was now unfit for human habitation and companies could come and dig for diamonds here.
However, it never happened at the scale the government hoped it would happen.
INHABITANTS OF GONG-GONG
The Griqua people and a small group of ethnic Blacks were the original inhabitants of this farm even before Mr. Pussey bought the farm in 1880. This is borne out in graves preceding the purchase of the land. These graves proof that even before the arrival of Christianity, our people knew that their dead should be buried decently. This community lived here before the arrival of the White settlers in Barkley West in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa.
They were not literate in the western sense of the word but they were also not complete idiots. They had a political structure that governed them. There was a Chief who was the highest authority here and he had his council made up of various deputy chiefs.
This community is a microcosm of life in the Northern Cape prior to colonisation and the resultant hardships that was brought about by it and the complete westernisation of a community. Colonisation was the start of a repetitive traumatisation of this community over the next 200 years. The ownership of the farm changed hands from one owner to the next and the only constant was the Griquas that lived here. The various owners of the farm never expected the people to leave the farm and life continued. The people lived very closely to nature, using water from the Vaal River, keeping livestock, using herbs and other plants from the veld to cure their various ailments.
The very early years
The establishment of Waldeck’s Plant
In 1870 Waldeck’s Plant came into existence as a separate community after the land was transferred to Mr. Waldeck. This area was basically “clan property” since the majority of the inhabitants were related to the owner. They lived on the west bank of the Vaal River with the rest of the community remaining on the east bank. Diamonds were discovered there later and the inhabitants got more involved in the diamond mining aspects of life. Many of them obtained mining permits and started mining on a very small scale. People built homes, schools and their lives on the property. All these developments and happy living were possible because Waldeck’s Plant was not yet declared alluvial grounds at that stage.
The demise of Waldeck’s Plant
When the area was proclaimed alluvial grounds the community’s problems started. White companies moved into the area to look for the diamonds in the ground and to this day, it had a very big impact on the environment.
These Mining activities led to:
- destruction of homes, schools & churches;
- the disruption of a community’s way of life;
- the culling of livestock;
- ultimately the removal of residents from Waldeck’s Plant;
- the break-up of families
- the vast majority relocated from the west to the east bank of the river, present day Gong-Gong;
- the population of Gong-Gong exploded exponentially
- Black people who lost their jobs on the mines also relocated to Gong-Gong. Most of them settled in an area near the waterfall which later became known as “Upper” Gong-Gong, while others went to settle in areas known as Rooirand & Brakfontein.
Big business enters the fray
In 1884 the Vaal River Diamond Company utilised Section 13 of Act No 5 of the Cape of Good Hope to expropriate the land. They paid the government the princely sum of £ 3 160.00. The Registrar of Deeds at the time was one Mr. Kirsten. The registration of the land in the name of Vaal River Diamond Company took place on 20 September 1884. The previous owners were the Diamond Proprietary Mines Ltd.
During all these transfers of ownership the Griqua and the Blacks were living on Gong-Gong.
None of the various owners of the land ever attempted to evacuate the inhabitants from the farm. The residents and the mining companies co-existed in relative peace on the property.
Present day Waldeck’s Plant – 2013
To be continued…