27 March 1902, Flags fly at half-mast in respect of the late Cecil John Rhodes.
Pictured is the Death Mask of Cecil Rhodes, believed to made by the sculptor John Tweed. This original mask was stolen from the cottage at Muizenburg. Also pictured is the DBCM Head Office on Stockdale Street with flag at half-mast in respect for Rhodes.
DID YOU KNOW
Cecil Rhodes’ death at his Muizenburg cottage on 26 March 1902 stunned Kimberley, despite the regular bulletins issued daily on his deteriorating health. The simple announcement that ‘Rhodes is dead’ in the late afternoon of the 26th spread from the Kimberley Club to all the suburbs, the compounds, and the mines. That night “…Kimberley slept, uneasily with the sense of great disaster and of gloom heavily upon the city…the loss of Mr Rhodes was an irreparable one,” said the Mayor, H.A. Oliver. George Green, editor of the Diamond Fields Advertiser, wrote that “The thoughts of all of us today are centred upon the man whom we knew so well…it creates a blank on the Diamond Fields which it is beyond the power of the pen to describe, but which is felt by every living soul.”
“At the Club a group of men had gathered around the entrance gates. One took the telegram, opened it and nodded, with lifted eyebrows, to the others. Very quietly they all went into the lounge and swiftly the whisper spread. The shift coming off duty at the various mines stood shocked before the simple notice. As daylight broke, [on the 27th] work upon the towering headgears ceased, the endless procession of little trucks came to a standstill, the roar of the loading skips, the screams of the shift whistles, died away; the iron tongued clatter of the machinery ceased; shops were shuttered; flags hung half mast, listless and weary; slowly the buildings of the town commenced to wrap themselves in purple trappings of woe. Seldom in the history of Empire has the death of a great man been more honestly and whole-heartedly mourned than the death of Rhodes was mourned upon the diamond fields.”