Cecil John Rhodes PC was a British mining magnate and politician in southern Africa who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. An ardent believer in British imperialism, Rhodes and his British South Africa Company founded the southern African territory of Rhodesia, which the company named after him in 1895. South Africa's Rhodes University is also named after him. He also put much effort towards his vision of a Cape to Cairo Railway through British territory. Rhodes set up the provisions of the Rhodes Scholarship, which is funded by his estate.
The son of a vicar, Rhodes was born at Netteswell House, Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire. A sickly child, he was sent to South Africa by his family when he was 17 years old in the hope that the climate might improve his health. He entered the diamond trade at Kimberley in 1871, when he was 18, and, thanks to funding from Rothschild & Co, began to systematically buy out and consolidate diamond mines. Over the next two decades he gained near-complete domination of the world diamond market, forming a massive monopoly. His diamond company De Beers, formed in 1888, retained its prominence into the 21st century.