Cecil John Rhodes, PC (July 5, 1853 – March 26, 1902) was a British-born South African businessman, mining magnate, and politician. He was the founder of the diamond company De Beers, which today markets 60% of the world's rough diamonds and at one time marketed 90%. He was an ardent believer in colonialism and was the founder of the state of Rhodesia, which was named after him. Rhodesia, later Northern and Southern Rhodesia, eventually became Zambia and Zimbabwe respectively.
Rhodes famously declared: "To think of these stars that you see overhead at night, these vast worlds which we can never reach. I would annex the planets if I could; I often think of that. It makes me sad to see them so clear and yet so far."
Rhodes was born in 1853 in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, England. He was the fifth son of the Reverend Francis William Rhodes, a Church of England vicar who prided himself on never having preached a sermon longer than 10 minutes, and his wife Louisa Peacock Rhodes. He had many siblings, including Francis William Rhodes, an army officer.