28 Days of Black Excellence

An ongoing series for the entire 28 days of Black History Month that showcases the inventions, the people, and culture that makes people of the African diaspora so excellent.

Diamonds are everyone’s best friend. From rappers, to brides, to just the guy down the street. Gold, platinum, rubies…whatever you have to dig from the earth in order to sell, these are things that go for ridiculous prices in auction houses across the world. So where would the world be without these treasures? That’s hard to say, but the practice of mining and its origin is fairly simple to find. In Swaziland.

The oldest known mine on archaeological record is the “Lion Cave” in Swaziland, which radiocarbon dating shows to be about 43,000 years old. The ancient Egyptians mined a mineral called malachite. While the gold mines of Nubia were among the largest and most extensive in the world.

Ngwenya Cavern The more modern mining of Ngwenya Mine was carried out from 1958 until 1979, in the form of open cast mining creating the dramatic mine pit currently still visible.The word Ngwenya is siSwati for crocodile and the mountain does resemble a huge basking reptile.

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Sadly, over-mining has had a negative impact on the environment, as we all know. And nowadays we have items like this necklace, which sold for $33.7 million at auction in 2017 The Pink Star diamond, worth $71 million dollars. Sadly, millions of Africans have succumbed to the forced labor in mines over the years. The 1849 Gold Rush is said to have netted over 750,000 tons of gold…though it displaced tens of thousands of Native Americans. Which is the sad part about this global business. Too many have abused the powers which the African world was forced to share with its international neighbors. The practice may have been perverted and turned into a negative, but the invention, just one of many millions, is what makes this creation another example of good ol’ black excellence.

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Alex Miller is a freelance writer living in Harlem. His work has appeared in Forbes, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other places.