The impact of the discovery of gold
Hordes of men from every corner of the globe as well as from the Cape and Natal descend on the South African Republic (SAR) when gold is discovered. The Boers call these unwelcome foreigners uitlanders, literally “outlanders”.
About 300 men occupy the first mining camp, Ferreira’s Camp. Although there is no official census, by early 1888, Johannesburg’s population has reached about 3 000, and wood-and-iron buildings replace tents.
For the bankrupt SAR, the discovery of the gold-rich conglomerate of the Witwatersrand is a mixed blessing. With Britain increasingly interested in its gold, and with the vast gulf that exists culturally and politically between the Boers and the uitlanders, whose numbers look set to top those of the Boers, friction is inevitable. The discovery of gold is to bring relations between the SAR and Great Britain to breaking point, culminating in the South African War (also know as the Anglo-Boer War), and the SAR’s loss of independence.