Kimberley, South Africa


Clingman (nee Kroll), Estella (Stella)


Estella (Stella) Clingman

Maiden Name


year I was born


3 words that exemplify for me what it was like growing up in Kimberley 

Carefree childhood

Date I left Kimberley


Age when I left


Reason for leaving and where I went

Got married and left to live in Johannesburg 

Scholastic achievements, degrees qualifications and where they are from

Matriculated, Kimberley Girls High 1949.
Bachelor of Arts, UNISA 1977.
Higher Diploma in Library Science, UNISA 1982.

Where I live now

Sydney, Emigrated to Australia 1988

What I do/did

Retired librarian

Marital status

Married to Norman

Place and date of wedding


Place my partner was born


What my partner did/does



My Children

My children

Two daughters

Names, year they were born, where they live and what they do

Barbara born 1959, Librarian.
Marilyn born 1961, Financial Manager.


Growing up in Kimberley in the ‘40s and ‘50s   

by Stella Clingman, Posted June 2014  


I grew up in Kimberley, a dry, dusty mining town in the Northern Cape Province in the Republic of South Africa under the influence of strong Colonial British culture. Prominent townsfolk were Anglo Saxons who called Britain ‘home’. De Beers Consolidated Mines controlled the Kimberley diamond mines and diamond trading. It suited the company to have low population growth to combat illegal diamond dealing.  Money poured out of Kimberley to assist in the building of South Africa and to line the pockets of overseas investors – while the old town remained a sleepy mining town.


The books I read were by English authors, my world view encompassed Britain. I loved stories of the village green, bubbling brook, lush English country gardens. In reality Kimberley was desert, the landscape littered with thorn trees with little grass.     


I spent a happy childhood surrounded by family and friends, on our bikes we explored the narrow winding streets. When I wasn’t playing sport I frequented the ‘bioscope’ later to be called the cinema and participated in the social life of the community. Both my parents worked in their soft goods store. Dorcas, from the Griqua tribe, was our faithful, housekeeper and child carer. She never scolded us, was completely accepting of our behaviour. My sisters and I in no way helped around the house, we lived a carefree, relaxed existence – the usual, common practice in white family households. It was Dorcas who taught me to knit and sew and I have always enjoyed these pass times. The kitchen was her domain and we did not even learn to make a cup of tea. I had a rude awakening after marrying and moving into our own home.


Kimberley, post Second World War had a quiet atmosphere without the pressure of crowds and free of fear.  We slept with doors and windows open to the hot summer nights.  Young people from Cape Town and Johannesburg scoffed at Kimberley as ‘a one horse town’ making me feel angry and hurt. I felt proud of my hometown and the life we lived away from the harsh realities of the big cities.


It was a time when young people married in their early twenties and girls were told that they did not need higher educational qualifications but should rather prepare themselves to be good wives and mothers.  I attended the public school, the only other high school being the Convent. The classroom was either freezing cold or exhaustingly boiling hot and dry. Subjects were limited and curriculum steeped in the past, rote learning was required to pass exams, either a string of historical dates or a list of crops and the pests that attacked them. I had a bent for the arts but landed up doing a commercial course which was certainly not to my liking.    


My Senior Kimberley High School Bookkeeping Class consisted of eight teenage girls far more interested in sport, fancy clothes and finding a boyfriend than in dreary debits and credits. Truth be known, Miss Robertson was a lousy teacher and we were lousy students hardly caring whether stock needed to be put on the left or right side of the ruled page.  We never knew Miss Robertson’s given name. We knew her as Cocky Robertson and she was good at living up to her name. She punished us for any sign of sloppiness.

We took little pride in wearing the shapeless pleated uniforms and were lax about wearing a school tie or hat.  When we moved from one classroom to the next, she habitually barked her strict rules at us,

“Walk briskly in single file, no talking”.

Of course that was the very time we felt free to engage in talking, giggling and letting off steam. Cocky Robertson must have known that one day she would ‘get us’ and so she did.


One frosty school morning in our usual carefree manner we were merrily dawdling along, laughing and talking.  At a bend in the path, an apparition jumped out of the bushes.  We saw in a flash that the apparition was Cocky Robertson.  Her squat, bandy legged form blocked our path, her face etched in a smirk of revenge and  triumph.  She had us in her claws.  She was a comical sight, instead of feeling fearful, we became convulsed with laughter.  She let out a yell of frustration and annoyance which only served to set us off on another bout of uncontrollable laughter. We could not control our mirth.  Cocky was furious screeching in indignation

“‘Follow me to the Principals office, Miss Southern will deal with you disgusting lot. She will teach you a bitter lesson.”


Miss Southern was known to us as ‘Slimy’ Southern, rather than fear her we disliked her.  She tended to fawn over people in authority as a means to keep herself in the position that we felt she was unsuited to.  Trying to control our mirth we walked behind Cocky directly into the Principals office. In an officious, mocking tone Cocky related our dreadful behaviour. We could again ‘see’ her jumping out of the bushes and we were again set off into hysterical laughter. The harder we tried to curb the laughter, the more we laughed.


Even ‘Slimy’ could not stop a grin developing on her face when she sentenced us to lunchtime detention.  That actually sobered us up; we had been looking forward to tucking into lunch and meeting our friends. Miss Southern advised my indulgent parents of the transgression but they did not take the incident too seriously.


Frosty relations remained between our class and Cocky Robertson for the remainder of our High School days. I wrote the final Bookkeeping exam without fully understanding the difference between a debit and a credit.

Miracles never cease, I did pass the exam.

Written by  Clingman (nee Kroll) Estella (Stella)

Sydney, Australia  2014