Kaffirs, in a financial context, refers to South African mining shares, particularly those traded on the London Stock Exchange during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Updated: Jun 21, 2024

3 key takeaways

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  • Kaffirs historically referred to South African mining shares, primarily gold mining companies, that were traded on the London Stock Exchange.
  • The term is now considered outdated and potentially offensive, and its use has largely fallen out of favor in modern financial contexts.
  • South African mining shares played a significant role in the global financial markets during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, attracting substantial international investment.

What are Kaffirs?

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Kaffirs were shares of South African mining companies, especially those involved in gold mining, that were actively traded on the London Stock Exchange. This term was prevalent during the late 1800s and early 1900s when South Africa’s mining industry experienced rapid growth due to the discovery of gold and other valuable minerals. The shares of these mining companies were highly speculative and attracted a lot of attention from investors seeking high returns.

Historical context

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Gold rush

The discovery of gold in South Africa, particularly in the Witwatersrand region in the 1880s, led to a gold rush and the rapid development of the mining industry. This attracted significant foreign investment, particularly from Britain.

London Stock Exchange

Many South African mining companies listed their shares on the London Stock Exchange to raise capital. These shares, known as Kaffirs, became popular among investors looking to capitalize on the lucrative mining industry.

Speculation and risk

Investing in Kaffirs was highly speculative due to the volatile nature of mining operations and the fluctuating prices of gold. While some investors made substantial profits, others faced significant losses.

Importance of Kaffirs

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Economic impact

The influx of foreign capital into South Africa’s mining industry helped develop the country’s infrastructure and contributed to its economic growth. The mining sector became a cornerstone of the South African economy.

Financial innovation

The trading of Kaffirs on the London Stock Exchange led to financial innovations and the development of new investment instruments and strategies. It also highlighted the importance of international capital markets in funding large-scale industrial projects.

Investor interest

The popularity of Kaffirs among British investors underscored the global nature of financial markets and the interconnectedness of economies. It also demonstrated the willingness of investors to take on high-risk investments in pursuit of high returns.

Modern perspective

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Outdated terminology

The term “Kaffir” is now considered outdated and offensive, as it has historical connotations of racial discrimination. Its use in modern financial contexts has largely been abandoned.

South African mining industry

While the term “Kaffirs” is no longer used, South Africa’s mining industry continues to be an important sector, with many mining companies listed on international stock exchanges. The country remains a major producer of gold, platinum, and other minerals.

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  • Gold mining stocks: Learn about investing in gold mining companies, the risks and rewards, and how they fit into an investment portfolio.
  • London Stock Exchange: Explore the history and role of the London Stock Exchange in global finance, including its involvement in listing international companies.
  • Emerging markets: Understand the dynamics of investing in emerging markets, including the opportunities and challenges they present to investors.

Consider exploring these related topics to gain a deeper understanding of the historical significance of Kaffirs and their impact on the development of global financial markets and the mining industry.

Sources & references
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AI Financial Assistant
Arti is a specialized AI Financial Assistant at Invezz, created to support the editorial team. He leverages both AI and the Invezz.com knowledge base, understands over 100,000... read more.