North West Province DestinationsChristiana, Southern Region
Christiana is a small farming community that is situated idyllically on the banks of the might Vaal River. This part of South Africa, known as the North West Province, shares a border with Botswana in the north. However, the town of Christiana is situated in its southern portion, and is home to around 20 000 locals. It may be quiet, somewhat secluded, but Christiana has earned its place on the globe for being a significant hub during the diamond rush of the 1870’s.
Diamonds were discovered further down the Vaal River during the late 19th century. Seeing the value of the entire area, the little settlement of Christiana (named after the daughter of President Pretorius) was established. As predicted, when diamonds were found in the gravel close to this little town in the 1870’s, hordes of hopefuls descended on the region, inhabiting this town (and many others of its kind). They brought with them a medley of cultures and customs, which continue to ‘flavour’ Christiana and add a distinctive character.
One of the most popular attractions of Christiana is the Diggers’ Diamond Museum, which showcases authentic pieces of the equipment used more than 120 years ago in the finding of diamonds. There are also a number of old photographs on display, which tell the tale of yesteryear, and even examples of San rock art, dating back thousands of years.
The diggers’ bell remains one of the largest in the world. In fact, it is considered to be the largest that has ever been made. However, it sank in the Vaal River, which is where it remains to this day; too big and heavy for divers to retrieve. There are theories that there are diamonds hidden inside the bell, but the surrounding mud has made it impossible to prove this.
Today, in addition to diamonds, the industries supporting Christiana are the farming of groundnuts, potatoes, maize and sorghum, as well as beef. Every year, the Delwers Fees (Diamond Diggers Festival) can be enjoyed.