Groundmass perovskite has been dated by LA-ICPMS in 135 kimberlites and related rocks from 110 localities across southern Africa. Sr and/or Nd isotopes have been analysed by LA-MC-ICPMS in a subset of these and integrated with published data. The age distribution shows peaks at 1,600-1,800, 1,000-1,200, 500-800 and 50-130 Ma. The major "bloom" of Group I kimberlites at ca 90 ± 10 Ma was preceded by a slow build-up in magmatic activity from ca 180 Ma. The main pulse of Group II kimberlites at 120-130 Ma was a distinct episode within this build-up. Comparison of the isotopic data with seismic tomography images suggests that metasomatized subcontinental lithospheric mantle (SCLM) with very low ε Nd and high 87Sr/86Sr, (the isotopic signature of Group II kimberlites) was focused in low-Vs zones along translithospheric structures. Such metasomatized zones existed as early as 1,800 Ma, but were only sporadically tapped until the magmatic build-up began at ca 180 Ma, and contributed little to the kimberlitic magmas after ca 110 Ma. We suggest that these metasomatized volumes resided in the deep SCLM and that their low-melting point components were "burned off" by rising temperatures, presumably during an asthenospheric upwelling that led to SCLM thinning and a rise in the ambient geotherm between 120 and 90 Ma. The younger Group I kimberlites therefore rarely interacted with such SCLM, but had improved access to shallower volumes of differently metasomatized, ancient SCLM with low 87Sr/86Sr and intermediate ε Nd (0-5). The kimberlite compositions therefore reflect the evolution of the SCLM of southern Africa, with metasomatic-enrichment events from as early as 1.8 Ga, through a major thermal and compositional change at ca 110 Ma, and the major kimberlite "bloom" around 90 Ma.