23 September 1871, Theatre Royal in Dutoitspan Village opens.
23 September 1887, The Queen’s Theatre opens.
23 September 1918, The first case of Spanish ’Flu in Dutoitspan Mine compound detected.
23 September 1942, Colonel Sir David Harris, (pictured) cousin of Barney Barnato dies.
DID YOU KNOW
October and November 1918 – there have never been two months quite like it in the short history of Kimberley, and hopefully, there never will be again. In that short period, 4483 citizens of Kimberley, or 8.85% of the entire population of 50 666, died from the Spanish ’Flu epidemic, which was sweeping the world. Some 40 000 people in the Kimberley urban area would be stricken with the influenza, the greatest natural disaster the city has ever seen, and the majority of the people affected were blacks, in particular those living in the mining compounds of the De Beers company. The Diamond Fields Advertiser reported that the Flu “…had a firm grip of nearly half the population, the deaths among the native element being nothing short of appalling”.
The ’Flu had reached South Africa in September 1918, allegedly brought in by two ships, the “Jaroslav” and the “Veronej”, which had stopped at Sierra Leone. The first cases in Kimberley were detected in the mine compounds as early as 23 September 1918, and by the beginning of October the town was firmly in the grip of the dreaded disease. Kimberley was not the first inland town to be infected, that dubious honour going to Johannesburg. Surprisingly, or perhaps not so, the epidemic in Johannesburg also took root in the mining compounds and spread outwards from there.