Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Our adopted hometown

Yesterday I walked across the town square just beyond our house, to the local carpentry shop. (I will post about my reason for visiting this workshop later on!) As always I had to pass the statue of founder of the Williamson Diamond Mines: Dr John Williamson.

The Williamson Diamond Mine (also known as the Mwadui mine) is a diamond mine south of Mwanza in Tanzania. This mine became well known as the first significant diamond mine outside of South Africa. The mine was established in 1940 by Dr John Williamson a Canadian geologist. It has been in continuous operation since then, making it one of the oldest uninterrupted operating diamond mines in the world. Over its lifetime it has produced over 19 million carats (3,800 kg) of diamonds. The Williamson mine, once owned by its namesake Dr. Williamson and later nationalized  by the Tanzanian government, is now majority owned by Petra Diamonds (75% ownership), with the government of Tanzania owning the remaining 25%.

Everytime I get to this statue, I stop and look up at this great man and marvel at visionary expression on his face. Now more than 70 years later, the mine he originally established, provides a livelihood for more than a thousand Tanzanians and two-score expats. The town which Dr Williamson named  Mwadui after a local chief at the time, has remained almost identical to when it was established.

 Dr John Williamson, founder of Williamson Diamond Mines, Mwadui in 1940

 Dr Williamson's statue in the town square just opposite our home

Note the baobab tree behind the statue. There are two legends attached to this tree: One is that in the early days, Dr Williamson pitched his tent under this tree and actually lived there for many years. The other is that he found the very first diamond under this tree. A friend now living in the UK, who was born in Mwadui, told me his parents and friends used to meet under the large baobab tree for sundowners!  
Our house is to the right of the house in the photo

 The statue was erected by Dr Williamson's brother, PB Williamson

I know that facts are important, and as a journalist I always ensure I have the correct facts about an article  anything a blog post, which I 'm writing. However, when I walk back home, I always turn around and look at Dr Willamson's statue with a romantic eye! The founder of Mwadui, presiding over the town,  is gazing out towards the mine with that visionary stare! 

 Dr Williamson presides over Mwadui town square, looking towards the mine which is just visible through the line of trees

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  1. What a heartwarming post! That is quite a tribute to Mr. Williamson and a huge statue overlooking a lovely green space. I'm thrilled to learn this Canadian is responsible for a good legacy for the people of Tanzania and the expats who rely on the mine. Hugs. xx

  2. A great, interesting look at your world, Jo! Wonderful captures as always! Hope you have a great week! Enjoy!

  3. Interesting history about Dr. Williamson. What a great man --who would be happy that 'his' mine is still working.... So neat!!!!


  4. An interesting history lesson about a town and mine and discoverer that I had never previously heard of. Blogging is educational as well as social.

  5. These days there are so many people who don't believe in remembering people like this from the past, but I love monuments and memorials.

  6. I think Dr. Williamson would be happy to see that his mine is still in operation. The town square and statue look beautiful and I love the baobab tree. What a great post on your world. Thanks for sharing, have a great day!

  7. That's interesting, but honestly I had already looked it up in Wikipedia, as soon as I knew for whom Grant was working, lol ! Don't tell me that I am curious ! The header I made looks nice. It's always different when you make it and then see it on a blog !

  8. Interesting post!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  9. He sounds like a remarkable man, a visionary. That is a great statue of a great man. I'll be he was a believer, just from your description of him!

  10. Hi Jo
    Going back a looooong way in memory, I believe the JTW statue was erected behind the "famouse baobab tree" which in turn was in front of the Doc's 1st house in Mwadui. The Doc told me he had his 1st house built on the site of his camp where he discovered the diamonds on 6th March 1940.
    If I remember that is in Sackville Rd!! Mwadui.

    We lived in Hopley Ave somewhere opposite the hospital across the field out the back, possibly No 23!!


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