Experience the Northern Cape, South Africa

Whenever Kimberley is mentioned, diamonds and the Big Hole come to mind. However, this history-rich city has a lot of hidden gems to offer visitors to the province of extremes.

The initial perception for someone who has never been to Kimberley, let alone the Northern Cape, could be that one city is pretty much like another. But once you start making your way through Kimberley, the vibrancy of the Northern Cape capital pops up all around you, including sites with historical and cultural significance.

Here are some of the hidden gems you can look forward to when visiting Kimberley:

Discover the city’s rich history

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The bronze statue of Sol Plaatje sees the writer striking a characteristic pose in the Ernest Oppenheimer Gardens. (Image: Northern Cape Tourism Authority)

Kimberley’s city centre is dotted with statues, museums and art galleries that have played a pivotal role in shaping the city into what it is today.

These attractions include important sites such as the statue of one of the country’s most accomplished political and literary figures, Solomon T “Sol” Plaatje, after whom the local municipality is named. Within walking distance of his statue in the city centre is the Sol Plaatje Museum and Library at 32 Angel Street.

The museum was once the home of Plaatje, and was where he spent his last years before his death in 1932. Inside the museum are displays about his life, his literary works and his voyages around the world. Plaatje was the first black South African to write a novel in English, and translated several of Shakespeare’s plays into Setswana. He was also a founding member and the first secretary general of the South African Native National Congress in 1912 – now known as the African National Congress.

The peaceful William Humphreys Art Gallery in the Ernest Oppenheimer Gardens off Sol Plaatje Drive is within walking distance of Angel Street. The art gallery has been around since 1952 and has since been declared a provincial heritage site. Inside is a collection of South African artworks, as well as 16th- and 17th- century French and British paintings, and antique furniture.

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The William Humphreys Art Gallery. (Image: Northern Cape Tourism Authority)

This gallery also serves as an educational and cultural centre for the community and features exhibitions, film screenings and art workshops for children. Visitors can also enjoy local cuisine and delicacies at the Palette Tearoom within the art gallery and visit the gift shop to buy mementos.

Go on a township tour in Galeshewe

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An artist’s impression of Kgosi Galeshewe, painted on one of the walls of the Galeshewe Centre. (Image: Northern Cape Tourism Authority)

Galeshewe is no ordinary township! It was founded as “Number 2” location in 1878, making it Kimberley’s oldest township and one of the oldest in the country. In 1952, Number 2 and its surrounds were officially renamed Galeshewe, after Kgosi Galeshewe, chief of the Batlhaping people, who fought many battles in his lifetime against the British colonial government, including the notable Phokwane Rebellion near Kimberley in the 1870s.

When in Galeshewe you can also look forward to visiting the old law firm office of Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, where he spent the last years of his life. Sobukwe, who founded the Pan Africanist Congress in opposition to apartheid, spent nine years in prison, six of them as a political prisoner on Robben Island in near complete solitary confinement. After his release, Sobukwe was banished to Kimberley, where he was allowed to practise as a lawyer, but was under constant police surveillance. He died in Kimberley in 1978.

In Galeshewe you’ll also find a monument to the Mayibuye Uprising. In November 1952, a local ANC leader, Dr Arthur Letele, encouraged people to sit on “whites only” benches at the Kimberley station and block the whites-only entrance of the post office as part of the ANC’s national Defiance Campaign. Thirteen people were killed and 78 others were wounded by the police on that day, and the Mayibuye Memorial commemorates their bravery and sacrifice.

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The Mayibuye Uprising memorial in Galeshewe. (Image: Northern Cape Tourism Authority)

Galeshewe is a community with friendly people who can easily switch between Afrikaans, Setswana and English with no problems at all. Its residents embrace visitors and are always ready to draw from their rich history and share it with visitors.

The Galeshewe Centre has various colourful wall murals depicting in detail some of the many events that have shaped Galeshewe into what it is today, including a painting showing a mother with her baby on her back, both shot and killed in the Mayibuye Uprising.

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An artist’s impression of the many clashes between the people of Number 2, Galeshewe, and the apartheid-era police. (Image: Northern Cape Tourism Authority)

Do a craft beer and gin tasting in Ritchie

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Gin pairings ready to be tasted and savoured at the KDBC. (Image: Northern Cape Tourism Authority)

Beyond the city centre, there’s much more to explore, including the Kimberley Diamond Brewing Company (KDBC), about 45km outside Kimberley along the Modder River. The brewery was established in 2014 by George van der Merwe and currently produces six different varieties of craft beer and ale, all made with proudly South African ingredients. This popular hangout also offers 70 different types of imported gin and distilled brandy.

KDBC is a little slice of heaven, ideal for a day of relaxation and family fun. The atmosphere is family oriented, with large lawns and a play area, making the restaurant a great place to bring your children and socialise with your friends. Enjoy spending time learning about craft beer as well as doing gin tastings and pairings.

George van de Merwe, owner from KDBC
Go on a guided tour of the beer production facility at KDBC where George van der Merwe brews his craft beer.

Want a taster? These are the six craft beers unique to the Kimberley Diamond Brewing Company: Ritchie Red Label, Blistering Scotsman, 1888 Belgian Ale, 40 Boxes, New Rush and Barney’s Blues. If you’re a gin lover and enthusiast, be sure to ask for one of these excellent mixes when you visit this establishment: the Rhino Beetle Turkish Delight, Cape Town Pink Lady, Six Dogs Blue Gin, Musgrave Pink Gin, Ginologist Floral and Old Packhouse Blueberry Gin.

For bookings, contact +27 (0)66 212 7090 or email george@kdbc.co.za.

Meet the Kwe and !Xun San at Wildebeest Kuil

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Visitors geared up and ready to discover fascinating facts at Wildebeest Kuil. (Image: Northern Cape Tourism Authority)

The Northern Cape has one of the oldest San communities living in South Africa – the !Xun and Khwe people in the arid Platfontein region, 15km outside Kimberley.

For a moving tour experience, stop at the Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre in Platfontein. The centre is a provincial heritage site and is dedicated to the preservation of the !Xun and Kwhe’s history and traditional ways of life.

Here, there are more than 400 examples of rock art and engravings that are spread over a small hill on land owned by the !Xun and Khwe San people. A guide will then take you on an 800m walkway that weaves up and over the hill, giving commentary on the rock art along the route. You’ll learn about the lives, culture and traditions of the San living in Platfontein.

In the auditorium, a 20-minute film takes visitors on a journey exploring the San people, including their origins, and their movements from countries such as Namibia, Botswana and Angola down to South Africa. In the centre you can also buy crafts and other gifts created by the San people.

You can retire for the night at the stunning and elegant Platfontein Lodge, which is built on land belonging to the !Xun and Khwe. The lodge was funded by the Department of Tourism and has 12 bedrooms with a 500-capacity conference room.

For bookings, contact +27 (0)53 839 2747or email dmorris@inext.co.za.