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I must confess that I was gobsmacked to find this statue outside the Klerksdorp municipality - I think it's gorgeous (if somewhat fanciful in its composition), but it's simply not what you expect to stumble across in the conservative platteland!
Mining and agriculture are uncomfortable bedfellows at the best of times, and the sight of these two performing an unlikely 'pas de deux' is most amusing. In case the imagery is not apparent, agriculture is of course the female figure (no doubt invoking imagery of fertility and fruitfulness despite her slender proportions) whilst mining is depicted as a distressingly fey male figure. I somewhat doubt whether many of my mining colleagues would relate to the poncy, hammer-wielding Mr Mining with his woosey helmet leaping gaily into the air!
To my immense regret, my Internet-based research has drawn a complete blank and I have managed to find out absolutely nothing about this statue: hopefully on my return to Klerkdorp, I will be able to do a little more research.
Updated Apr 19, 2011
I have long been intrigued by the unusual architecture of the Klerksdorp (now city of Matlosana) municipal building. The tower rises above the rest of the concrete monstrosities of the CBD and is visible from the N12 highway. It has always seemed out of place - more the sort of thing you'd expect to find in a red brick Hanseatic city than in a South African platteland town.
Despite my best efforts, I have managed to find out absolutely nothing about this intriguing building. It's not as though Klerksdorp is overrun by attractive historical buildings, and I think it's rather a shame that it doesn't crack a mention on any of the Klerksdorp websites (see the link below for the best of these).
Updated Apr 19, 2011
I wasn't expecting much of the Klerksdorp museum, and being well acquainted with the vile '60s concrete architecture of much of Klerksdorp's city centre (to be honest, the centres of virtually all South Africa's cities), I had mentally braced myself for the building to be hideous.
It therefore came as a very pleasant surprise to discover that the museum is housed in a beautiful Victorian sandstone building. The wrought iron gates indicate that this was the Klerksdorp Stock Exchange, so I was more than a little confused when I set foot inside the front door and realised that it was in fact a former prison!
Let's be frank, I am no fan of wheeler dealer Wall Street types, so the idea of an ergonomically designed building which would allow rogue traders to be transferred straight from the trading floor to jail (without passing 'Go' and collecting $200) seemed an awfully good idea to me. Sadly, it transpires that the gates were transported from another site, but I still think that it's a design concept for integrated stock exchanges and penal institutions that merits further exploration!
The prison is small, and each of the cells has been converted to a display space, with larger exhibits such as vehicles being housed in the covered central courtyard. The prison (which was closed in 1973) was established in 1891 when it became clear that the rise in crime resulting from the lawless 'wild west' atmosphere of the gold rush merited a proper prison building. It was never a major site for incarceration, but still features about a dozen standard cells and a couple of isolation cells (in which some interesting graffiti is preserved). Significantly, even in the noose-happy Old South Africa, it was never used for executions, although this doesn't have seemed to have prevented some rather robust corporal punishment being meted out.
The exhibits are low key and low budget, but interesting nonetheless, although it has to be said that the main attraction is the building and the period atmosphere it conjurs up. Exhibits include the obligatory stuff on the Voortrekkers, as well as the Second Boer War and, interestingly, a section on pyrophyllite (Wonderstone). This latter display includes some Khoisan petroglyphs removed from Ottosdal (see my travel page) and is the only place in this region where this indigenous artwork is easily accessible.
When I visited, they were busy installing a new section of exhibits to commemorate famous figures in Klerksdorp history, which sounds interesting: as a result, they kindly waived my entrance fee - all R2 of it (about US50c)!
The property also includes a period Victorian house which the warden used, as well as a powder magazine - the house has a separate entry fee (again, a princely R2). The shop is rather nice and unexpectedly sells interior decor type merchandise, much of it with a Victorian cottage feel.
Updated Apr 19, 2011