While Absalom’s trial is going on, new gold is discovered in South Africa, and everyone’s attention becomes focused on Odendaalsrust. There is a great deal of excitement and speculation, and the area explodes with activity. The share prices of gold go up and up, and those buying the shares are becoming fabulously wealthy. Everyone is deeply excited about South Africa’s new lease on wealth.
The only thing that can distract white men from the trial of the black murderer is the discovery of more gold, the potential for more money, which of course comes hand in hand with further destroying the land. Note how it is only those with money who benefit from this newfound wealth. The system is rigged.
There are some people, however, who are wet blankets about the gold. They suggest that the money earned in the shares should go toward the poor, or organizations that support the people, or even the black men who mine the gold. This is foolishness, however—even though the men who make money from the inflation of the stock prices didn’t physically labor for it, they still worked for it mentally, and when they become wealthy, their wealth may trickle down into good causes, into those clubs and organizations and the arts and nature. And if the wealth in this new place proves to be as much as it promises, perhaps a second Johannesburg will spring up around it.
Those who suggest that the money could be put to better uses than making the rich even richer are scoffed at—by the rich. It will reach those who need it eventually, they argue. The rich either do not understand how the cycle works or deliberately ignore the fact that such a thing will never happen.
Those wet blankets, though, definitely don’t want a second Johannesburg. Sir Ernest Oppenheimer has suggested that this would be a good place to test a new model of mining, a settlement where the families of the miners can come and live with them instead of being split apart and living in a compound. And some people laud this idea, because the money from the mines should lead to food and shelter and stability and little pleasures, not mad speculation and inflating stock market prices. Please, no second Johannesburg.
Some people understand that there are better paths, better directions for the mines (and South Africa) to go in. But will their voices be heard?