“Ik weet niets van de ontploffing” : an examination of the Braamfontein Explosion of 1896

Ahnie, Garth Tai-shen (2017-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis investigates the causes and origins of the Braamfontein Explosion or disaster of 1896, while outlining its immediate effects. Various sources do discuss or mention a cause for the explosion, yet on a closer inspection of the evidence, it becomes apparent that the causes were not as simplistic as suggested in these works. The investigation discusses the critical chain of events that led up to the explosion, while proposing what can be considered the possible cause or causes. To do so, this thesis will be looking at the various industrial and social components that surround the perception of the explosion such as the dynamite industry, the railway company and the official investigation that followed. Additionally the thesis will be a lens upon the unique characteristics of the Witwatersrand of that time, by presenting the nuances of its various people that were involved with and or affected by the explosion. The year 1896 was not a particularly pleasant year for the Rand – it was on alert following the Jameson Raid, it was enduring a drought that led to water scarcity, as well as the average feature of town fire or the odd homicide. Thus the explosion came at a difficult time, and affected the most vulnerable of the town. It is the hope that this thesis will recount the events before, during and after the explosion, to create a fuller and more accurate image, but by no means can it encompass all facets of the event.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis ondersoek die oorsake en oorsprong van die ontploffing of ramp in Braamfontein van 1896, sowel as die onmiddellike gevolge daarvan. Daar is sekondêre bronne wat wel 'n oorsaak vir die ontploffing bespreek, maar by nadere betragting het dit geblyk 'n oorvereenvoudige vertolking te wees. Hierdie ondersoek bespreek die kritiese ketting van gebeure wat aanleiding tot die ontploffing gegee het, terwyl dit alternatiewe redes vir die ontploffing oorweeg. Dienooreenkomstig let die tesis op die verskillende industriële en sosiale komponente wat die persepsie van die ontploffing omgeef het, soos byvoorbeeld die dinamietbedryf, die Spoorwegmaatskappy en die amptelike ondersoek wat gevolg het. Verder poog die tesis om 'n lens te wees op die unieke eienskappe van die Witwatersrand van daardie tyd, deur onder meer genuanseerde ontledings van die verskillende mense en hulle belewenisse wat betrokke was of direk deur die ontploffing geraak is. Die jaar 1896 was nie 'n baie aangename jaar op die Rand nie – daar was paniek na die Jameson Inval, daar was 'n droogte saam met waterskaarste, sowel as die gebruiklike brand en moord. Die ontploffing het op 'n moeilike tyd gekom en die dorp se mees kwesbare mense geraak. Daar word gehoop dat hierdie tesis die gebeure voor, tydens en na die ontploffing duidelik te berde sal bring om 'n volledige en meer akkurate beeld te skep. Dit gee egter nie voor om alle fasette van die ontploffing te dek nie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/101286
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