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Monday, June 7, 2010

The story of the stadium where the U.S. will play England on Saturday

Next Saturday, the U.S. will face England at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg or to be more specific in Phokeng just outside Rustenburg. The story of the stadium goes all the way back to the 12th century when the Bafokeng nation migrated from East Africa over a prior period of 200 years settling in the Rustenburg valley, They decided to settle there because the valley collected a lot of overnight dew and the people believed that this indicated that the land would be fertile and the people would prosper.

Bafokeng means ‘people of the dew’ or ‘people of the grass’ in the Setswana language.. The nation settled in the valley and lived there peacefully until the mid 19th century when Boer farmers, escaping from English rule started to settle in the area and started to survey and register farms, ignoring traditional property rights. Kgosi Mokgatle, the Bafokeng king or Kgosi realized they would soon lose their land and in a moment of prescience ordered his tribesmen to walk to the recently discovered diamond mines in Kimberley, a few hundred miles to the south to work in the mines and send their money home so the nation could buy the land. Using these funds and Lutheran Missionaries as fronts, the nation was able to buy a few hundred square miles and secure most of their traditional lands.

Good thing they did, because in 1921 a geologist discovered an exposed outcrop on their land that turned out to be the largest deposit of platinum in the world. Over the next 70 years, continued attempts by the South African government and the mining companies to pry the land away from the Bafokeng failed.

The Bafokeng stood firm and finally in 1999 the mining companies agreed to pay the nation a 22% royalty on all the platinum mined as well as a stake in the second largest mining company. It made the Bafokeng the richest tribe in black Africa. They have used the money to build an infrastructure, for education and for the stadium, which they own. On Saturday, the U.S. and England will play the first of five matches scheduled at the stadium. The current Kgosi is the great, great, great, great grand child of Kgosi Mokgatle whose foresight brought wealth to the Bafokeng nation 150 years later.


Sam Sharp said...

Interesting Phil. But will the stadium see much use after the WC?

PAC said...

League soccer but not much else.