Cecil Rhodes: A brief biography of an entrepeneur in Africa.

Essay by fuzzymonkey February 2004

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Cecil Rhodes was born in 1853. He had always been a sickly child and he had become diagnosed with tuberculosis at the age of sixteen. "The fact that he was diagnosed with TB and had recently left school changed his life forever". His parents thought a change of location would be good for him and sent him to South Africa in 1870, where his brother had recently gone to live and become a successful cotton farmer.

Rhodes flourished in Africa only traveling back to England in 1973 for his education, he had become a diamond millionaire at the age of 19 and had graduated from Oxford University in 1881. Our first source states, "The intellectual influences which Rhodes absorbed during period of study at Oxford University gave him a coherent framework for his political convictions." Rhodes was a wildly successful businessman. Rhodes's millions were made mostly out of sheer luck.

The diamond miners at Kimberly in the Cape Colony had been finding a wealth of diamonds in yellow soil. So when the miners struck blue clay, many diggers abandoned their shares because of fear of worthlessness and a fall in the price of diamonds that had recently happened. Rhode and his partner Rudd bought the dropped shares and became rich. Rudd and Rhodes then combined their efforts with those of a rival company to form De Beers Mining Company Limited. Rhodes used this company to help control the diamond industry and in 1888, De Beers controlled 90% of the world's diamonds. Although he was not as powerful in the gold industry, he did take a major claim in the Witwatersrand gold-field following the gold strike in 1886.

Not only was Rhodes a successful businessman, but he was also a politician. "Rhodes' achievements, both in the field of commerce and in...