Home | Diamonds And Dust

December 14, 2012

Rehearsing Crossings

"The key to a peaceful, secure life is always a fine balance between free expression and discipline,'' reflects columnist Leanne Hunt after practicing crossing roads with her guide dog Lulu.

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May 06, 2012

Americans Living Alone

In 1950, four million adult Americans lived alone. Today, thirty-one million do, writes Eric Klinenberg.

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January 07, 2010

Today

Malcolm Bertoni concludes his vivid account of working at the world's biggest diamond mine in Namibia by tracking down some of his former colleagues.

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December 31, 2009

82 - Affenrucken: The End

Malcolm Bertoni reports that the desert sands are reclaiming the site of what was once the world's biggest diamond mine in Namibia.

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December 17, 2009

81 - Memories

...There is no shame in memories. There is no disgrace in sitting and thinking back. When we were all young and fit with our short hair, unlined, smooth faces and lean physiques. We were youthful and didn’t have a care in the world...

Malcolm Bertoni vividly remembers the days when he was a young man, working at the world's biggest diamond mine.

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December 10, 2009

80 - A Broken Marriage

...I’m still travelling. I’ve been to China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines in the past few years. Before that I worked in Kenya and Tanzania for a year as well as the US and the UK. I’ve been to more places that I can recall. Some of these places have already faded from memory. But I’ll always remember Affenrucken clearly...

Malcolm Bertoni confesses to being a bit of a loner.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "80 - A Broken Marriage" »

December 03, 2009

79 – Acting Foreman

Malcolm Bertoni thinks of might-have-beens.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "79 – Acting Foreman" »

November 26, 2009

78 - Tugging Me Back To Oranjemund

Malcolm Bertoni learns something of his family's history.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "78 - Tugging Me Back To Oranjemund" »

November 19, 2009

77 - There Could Never Be Another Affenrucken

...Dare I say it but the fun has now gone out of working on the mines probably due to the money to be made. To us it was all a sense of adventure and it was not taken too seriously. Many just did it for the hell of it or to get away from home, like I did. Working on the mines is now a serious business...

Malcolm Bertoni continues his autobiography.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "77 - There Could Never Be Another Affenrucken" »

November 12, 2009

76 - Off To University

...The river passed through spectacular river valleys and gorges with bare hills on either side. It was then really untamed country; beautiful, wild, rugged and very isolated. I was on my own with just the river to keep me company. I camped along the river and one morning woke up and found leopard tracks circling the camp, about 10 metres distant. That’s how wild it was...

After completing his university studies Malcoln Bertoni went on a solo trip in a small inflatable on the Orange River.

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November 05, 2009

75 - Catching Up With Ex-Affenruckers

...We have a kindred spirit that is hard to measure. Because we know that we did something different, something unique...

Malcolm Bertoni keeps in touch with former colleagues who worked at the world's largest diamond mine in Namibia.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "75 - Catching Up With Ex-Affenruckers" »

October 29, 2009

73 - Departure

...There were the usual speeches and good lucks and we all sat talking a bit too loud and too fast for a few hours and then it was all over. The next day I would leave the mine forever. I did not know it then but an era had come to an end...

After working for six-and-a-half years at a diamond mine in Affenrucken, Namibia, Malcolm Bertoni goes off to study at a university.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "73 - Departure" »

October 22, 2009

72 - Tragedies

Life was tough and some men died working at a huge diamond mine in a remote part of Namibia, as Malcolm Bertoni reveals.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of working at the mine please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "72 - Tragedies" »

October 15, 2009

71 -Guinea Fowl

...I was about an hour out of Cape Town, when I came across this gaggle of guinea fowl. Guinea fowl were active early in the morning and later in the evenings. During the day there rested and generally seemed to do nothing. So one of the problems of leaving early was that there was more wild life about. Guinea fowls are big birds – possibly bigger than duck. They are also cumbersome and slow. Unfortunately for me as I approached the gaggle of guinea fowl they all decided to take off en mass. I was doing 120 kms an hour which was the speed limit at that time...

Malcolm Bertoni has a close encounter of the feathered kind.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "71 -Guinea Fowl" »

October 08, 2009

70 - Macdougals Bay

...It was a very quiet bay with only a few small holiday houses. Some of the houses were made from anything that saw available: double-decker buses, old shipwrecks, caravans, bits of tin and so on. Basically anything that didn’t cost too much money. There was no running water and no electricity when we went there in the 70s...

Malcolm Bertoni tells of relaxing days from work in a Namibian diamond mine.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of his time in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "70 - Macdougals Bay" »

October 01, 2009

69 - The Bridge

...Now one day around 1973 or so there arrives about a dozen big new shiny Caterpillar dump trucks. These are brand new state of the art trucks to replace some of the aging off-road trucks and haulers that are on the mine. They are massive. The tyres are something like 8 ft tall and the truck empty weight is 50 tonnes with a payload of about 50 or 60 tonnes. Standing 4 metres tall, 10 metres long and 5 ½ metres wide, they are an impressive sight.

There was only one small problem. Whoever had ordered the trucks had forgotten a tiny detail. The bridge was only 4½ metres wide...

Malcolm Bertoni tells how a little guy solved a big problem and got his reward.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "69 - The Bridge" »

September 24, 2009

68 - The Road To Cape Town

...Now this was real dirt road. Potholes, washaways, thick layers of sand and bulldust and kms of corrugations. It was a treacherous stretch of road. It really shook up the cars and there were bits that had fallen off of cars scattered all along that stretch...

Malcolm Bertoni, continuing his story of diamond mining in Namibia, tells of an occasion when a car being driven along the dirt road suddenly went whoomp!

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "68 - The Road To Cape Town" »

September 17, 2009

67 - The Discussion

...What I loved about all the guys there was their humour. Since we lived so on top of each other, everyone seemed to realise that getting on with each other was important out in the desert...

Malcolm Bertoni tells of peace and harmony in the Affenrucken diamond mining camp.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "67 - The Discussion" »

September 10, 2009

66 - Herman’s Door

Malcolm Bertoni tells of practical jokes and memorable characters that he remembers from his days working at the world's biggest diamond mine in Namibia.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of his experiences please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "66 - Herman’s Door" »

September 03, 2009

65 - The Barge And Helicopter

...Johnny got into the chopper, put on his seat belt and shut his eyes tightly, waiting for the take-off. The pilot noticed this so revved the crap out of the engine and jiggled the joystick a bit pretending that we had taken off. After a minute Johnny asked how we were going and the pilot said we were still climbing to get some height...

It doesn't pay to play a practical joke on a cook who is afraid of heights, as Malcolm Bertoni reveals.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "65 - The Barge And Helicopter" »

August 27, 2009

64 - Swimming And Diving

...The wreck was off-limits; as was Chameis Bay. But who listened to what the company said? We visited the wreck the moment all the fuss died down getting the crew out of the diamond area. The DDs seemed more concerned about the possibility that the ship was trying to smuggle diamonds than about the safety of the crew. It was a ridiculous assumption. Who the hell in their right mind would use a 10,000 ton freighter to steal diamonds?...

Malcolm Bertoni tells of unofficial "salvaging'' on the Namibian coast.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "64 - Swimming And Diving" »

August 20, 2009

62 - Sand Surfing

...It was an interesting sight to see three or four bodies go somersaulting through the air and bounce on the sand like rubber dolls. There were some nasty spills and how we didn’t kill ourselves, I’ll never know...

Malcolm Bertoni tells of the high-risk "sport'' of sand surfing.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

Continue reading "62 - Sand Surfing" »

August 13, 2009

61 - The Touch Judge

Malcolm Bertoni tells of a cunning winger who sold the perfect dummy.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "61 - The Touch Judge" »

August 06, 2009

60 - Rugby Fields

...A friend of mine said that in one game the two packs of forwards were just about to have a scrum when suddenly one of the players shouted “Breek” (“Break”), and all the forwards scattered in different directions. They then all had to wait while someone came on to kill the puffadder that lay coiled just where they were about to scrum...

Playing rugby in Africa brought more than a fair share of hazards, as Malcolm Bertoni reveals.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "60 - Rugby Fields" »

July 30, 2009

59 - Emergency Shutdown

Malcolm Berton tells of hoaxes at the world's biggest diamond mine.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "59 - Emergency Shutdown" »

July 23, 2009

58 - The Airstrip

...One weekend with nothing to do we checked out the dump and discovered an old Landrover which looked like we might get going. So we put in some oil, brake fluid and water into the radiator. We cleaned the plugs and carburettor and got some fuel into it. After an hour or so we got it going...

Malcolm Bertoni tells how a game which ended in near disaster resulted in a lot of hard work.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "58 - The Airstrip" »

July 16, 2009

57 -The Ancient Riverbed

Malcolm Bertoni tells of the area around Affenrucken where he worked in the world's biggest diamond mine.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "57 -The Ancient Riverbed" »

July 09, 2009

56 - Chameis Bay

...Outside the caves were lots of scattered bones, skin, fur and bits and pieces...

Malcolm Bertoni tells of a strandwolf lair.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "56 - Chameis Bay" »

July 02, 2009

55 -The Aurus Mountains

...We camped out and it was a magnificent and clear, although cold, night. We had come well prepared with sleeping bags and warm clothes. We built a small fire and braaid some boerewors and chops. There was a pale half moon angling across the sky. The timelessness of the desert was incredible...

Malcolm Bertoni tells of a trip to the Aurus mountains.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "55 -The Aurus Mountains" »

June 25, 2009

54 - Boegoeberg

...We let Thys drive the last part as he was the best off-road driver in our mob. The Landrover seemed to slip sideways a few times and it was not an enjoyable experience. We seemed to hang precariously as we inched up the track. It was not a place to stop and I’m sure the vehicle would have slid down the hill if we had....

Malcolm Bertoni went exploring in Namibia, where he worked at a diamond mine.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of his experiences please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "54 - Boegoeberg" »

June 18, 2009

53 - Eighteen Pay Packets

Malcolm Bertoni recalls his record pay day.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "53 - Eighteen Pay Packets" »

June 11, 2009

52 - My 21st Birthday

Malcolm Bertoni tells of a birthday which was flooded with champagne.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "52 - My 21st Birthday" »

June 04, 2009

51 - Powder Load

Malcolm Bertoni tells of a load which almost broke the trailer's back.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "51 - Powder Load" »

May 28, 2009

50 - Fog

Malcolm Bertoni tells of a man who got lost in the fog.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's account of diamond mining in Namibia please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "50 - Fog" »

May 21, 2009

49 - Vehicles - 3

In the latest cvhapter of his accountof working of mining for diamonds in Namibia Malcolm Bertoni tells of a novel way to wreck a Land Rover.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "49 - Vehicles - 3" »

May 14, 2009

48 – The Vehicles – 2

Malcolm Bertoni tells what happened when an attempt was made to use a Land Rover to tow a crane.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "48 – The Vehicles – 2" »

May 07, 2009

47 - The Vehicles -1

…Within a few kms the oil pressure was just about zero.
I asked H_ what he was going to do.

He thought for a while then said, “It’s easy. I have the solution,” and with that punched the oil pressure dial, breaking the glass and twisted the oil gauge pointer up to 70 lb.
“There, that should be fine now,” he said casually…

Malcolm Bertoni continues his lively account of diamond mining in Namibia.

To purchase a copy of Malcolm’s book please click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "47 - The Vehicles -1" »

April 23, 2009

46 - The Pink Pan

…The mast got stuck in the mud and there they were in the middle of the pan, with racing boats zooming up and down all around them trying to have a race.

It was the most hilarious sight I had ever seen, and I laughed so much I was crying in the end…

Malcolm Bertoni tells of the day the Affenrucken guys went sailing.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "46 - The Pink Pan" »

April 16, 2009

45 - The Sand Yacht

…It took four weekends to finish the thing and in an attempt to disguise that it was aluminium, we painted the frame blue. The wheels were wheelbarrow wheels and the sails were made from mattress covers that we stole off mattresses from half a dozen beds. The covers were a strong cotton and best of all, free…

Malcolm Bertoni tells of the hazards of building and “sailing’’ a sand yacht.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "45 - The Sand Yacht" »

April 09, 2009

44 - Beverly Hills Workshop

…We had another guy who was mischievous and as naughty as hell. He was rather short so we naturally called him ‘Stompgat’ or ‘Short Arse’…

Malcolm Bertoni continues his vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia. To read earlier chapters please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "44 - Beverly Hills Workshop" »

April 02, 2009

43 – Unna And The Signs

Malcolm Bertoni tells of the closest of close encounters between a gemsbok and a Volkswagen Beetle.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "43 – Unna And The Signs" »

March 26, 2009

42 – Louis

…It seems that all the grog that Louis drank had given him the biggest hangover on the planet, and his eyes had swelled so badly from the reaction to the grog that he couldn’t open them…

Malcolm Bertoni tells of a monumental binge.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "42 – Louis" »

March 19, 2009

41 - John F_

…By the time he left to take the flight out on Saturday morning he was not a pretty sight. Both eyes were black, his nose was all bent and he was a sorry sight to see. He did get married, but I never did hear what his wife-to-be thought…

Malcolm Bertoni continues his brilliant account of diamond mining in Namibia.

To read earlier chapters of his story please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "41 - John F_" »

March 12, 2009

40 - Dynamite Fishing - Part 2

How much dynamite does it take to catch a fish?

Malcolm Bertoni continues his richly detailed account of life in a Namibian diamond mining camp.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's story visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "40 - Dynamite Fishing - Part 2" »

March 05, 2009

39 - Dynamite Fishing – Part 1

Malcolm Bertoni and his colleagues at a Namibian diamond mine tried their luck at explosive fishing.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm’s account of working Affenrucken please click on
http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "39 - Dynamite Fishing – Part 1" »

February 27, 2009

38 - Lopping The Pole

…There was a deafening explosion, and a huge plume of dust and smoke shot up. It sounded like a miniature nuclear explosion. Bits of debris clattered around us, on the roof of the dining room and on the single quarters. We all ducked and ran around with our hands covering our heads…

Master storyteller Malcolm Bertoni describes confusion when dynamite was used in an attempt to cut a telephone pole in two.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "38 - Lopping The Pole" »

February 19, 2009

37 – Group Achievements

…Looking back, the company was quite lucky as there were almost no drugs, only a bit of alcohol and no fighting or unruly behaviour. We were mischievous and rather naughty, but not really bad and didn’t ask for much…

The workers at the diamond mine in Affenrucken could be boisterous but there were no alcohol and rugs problems, as Malcolm Bertoni reveals.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "37 – Group Achievements" »

February 12, 2009

36 - Francis And The 44 Magnum

…Francis was on holiday in South Africa in 1971 and saw the movie Dirty Harry starring Clint Eastwood. He liked what he saw, especially the big handgun that Clint used, the Smith & Wesson 44 magnum revolver.

So Francis went and bought himself one…

Malcolm Bertoni tells what happened when he was given the chance to fire that gun.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "36 - Francis And The 44 Magnum" »

February 05, 2009

35 - The Hippie

…He always seemed to start a sentence with “Hey man” and was probably one of the first peace activists in South Africa. He told me many years later that he had to leave Cape Town as the authorities were asking questions about him and possibly wanted to have a ‘short discussion’ with him…

Malcolm Bertoni tells of another of the characters he met while working at a diamond mine in Namibia.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "35 - The Hippie" »

January 29, 2009

34 - Kannie Worrie

…Each New Year he used to pitch a tent and camp on the roundabout for a few days with ample supplies of liquid sustenance, and people going past his tent used to pop in for a drink….

Malcolm Bertoni tells of a character called Kannie Worrie.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "34 - Kannie Worrie" »

January 22, 2009

33 - Ben The Cook

…Ben was a big jovial guy who always had a mischievous sort of smile on his face. He wore Dutch clogs all the time he was there, and the ‘thump, thump, thump’ of his clogs hitting the floor was unmistakable. There was no way he was going to sneak around while wearing those things…

Malcolm Bertoni tells of a cook who soon became everyone’s friend.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "33 - Ben The Cook" »

January 15, 2009

32 - A Hairy Tale

Malcolm Bertoni tells of a super-clean man.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "32 - A Hairy Tale" »

January 08, 2009

31 - Playing Cards

It pays not to joke at the expense of a serious card player, as the latest chapter in Malcolm Bertoni’s vivid autobiography reveals.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "31 - Playing Cards" »

January 01, 2009

30 - Moon Landing

…When the moon landing happened in July 1969 we all gathered round the radio day and night to listen as VOA describe the events as they happened. While I was at work, the guys that came off night shift would gather in my room and listen for a few hours to the events as they unfolded…

But that was a bitter-sweet timefor the guys working at a remote Namibian diamond mine, as Malcolm Bertoni reveals.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm’s vivid experiences please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "30 - Moon Landing" »

December 18, 2008

29 - Paying My Taxes

Malcolm Bertoni goes drinking with his taxman.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "29 - Paying My Taxes" »

December 11, 2008

28 - Finding The Cat

Malcolm Bertoni tells of the disasterous consequences of a hunt for a missing cat.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "28 - Finding The Cat" »

December 04, 2008

27 - Dealing With Disabilities

The guys working at a Namibian diamond mind sometimes displayed a cruel sense of humour as Malcolm Bertoni reveals.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm’s vivid experiences please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "27 - Dealing With Disabilities" »

November 27, 2008

26 – Taking Pictures

Malcolm Bertoni tells of a treasure trove of diamonds which were thrown away.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

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November 20, 2008

25 - The Luger

Malcolm Bertoni tell of the night the street signs were shredded with gun shots.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm’s vivid story of diamond mining in Namibia please click on To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

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November 13, 2008

24 - The People

Malcolm Bertoni tells of the guy who climbed the tower.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm’s vivid account of mining for diamonds in Namibia please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

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November 06, 2008

23 – Diamond Smugglers

Malcolm Bertoni tells of the come-uppance of a diamond detective, and a failed smuggling plan.

To read more of Malcolm’s vivid tales of working in a huge diamond mine in Namibia please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of his book visit http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

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October 30, 2008

22 - The Eavesdropper

…On weekends we would often have a Land Rover drive off in the middle of the night and head up the old riverbed, then five minutes later another would drive off in the opposite direction. So he would not know which one to follow and end up running around in circles…

Malcolm Bertoni tells of giving the security staff the run-around at a Namibian diamond mine.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm’s story please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of Malcolm’s book visit http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "22 - The Eavesdropper" »

October 23, 2008

21 - The Seal Tooth

…Security said that they had heard that we were shooting seals and I must have shot the seal and that they were going to detain me until I confessed and told them the truth, etc, etc, and so they kept me in an interview room…

Malcolm Bertoni despised the “Diamond Detectives’’ whose job it was to detect the theft of uncut diamonds – bullying men who “strutted around like they owned the place and believed they were untouchable.’’

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm’s story please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/ And to buy a copy of this book visit http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

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October 16, 2008

20 – The Baboon And Other Creatures

…One baboon, who seemed pretty smart and unafraid, became quite tame, and the guys used to give him scraps of food and even sandwiches. He got very bold and even strolled into the single quarters looking for food…

Malcolm Bertoni continues his account of mining for diamonds in Namibia.

To read earlier chapters please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

Malcolm’s story is now available as a book http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

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October 09, 2008

19 – Hazardous Photography

Photgraphing wild life could be a hazardous business, as Malcolm Bertoni reveals.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm’s vivid account of diamond mining in Namibia do please click on
http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To buy Malcolm’s book please click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "19 – Hazardous Photography" »

October 02, 2008

18 - Having A Swim

So what do you do when you find a gemsbok in your swimming pool?

Malcolm Bertoni tells a splendid African tale.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm’s story please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

To obtain a copy of Malcolm's book please click on http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/diamonds.htm

Continue reading "18 - Having A Swim" »

September 25, 2008

17 - The Gemsbok

…Ben Stompgat said it would be nice to make some biltong, a dried jerky which is a sort of delicacy and is loved in South Africa. Essie E_ made biltong and we always bought some from him and it was probably the best biltong I’d ever tasted anywhere to this day. But of course you had to buy it and it was relatively expensive as you had to get the best beef cuts for making the biltong. And not only that, you lost about 50% of the weight when it dried…

But what if you used gemsbok meat instead of beef?

Malcolm Bertoni tells of a hunting trip which landed two fellahs in a whole lot of trouble.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm’s account of working at a diamond mine in Namibia please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

Continue reading "17 - The Gemsbok" »

September 18, 2008

16 - The Tusks

…“I’m hoping you can help me. I have a little problem. I’d like you to have a look at this,” he says walking back to his Landrover.

I follow, wondering what it is he wants to show me.

He opens the back and I look in. There is a green tarp covering something. He pulls back the tarp, and lying there are two huge elephant tusks…

But what to do with those tusks? Malcolm Bertoni continues his extraordinary story of working for a diamond mining company in Namibia. To read earlier chapters please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

Continue reading "16 - The Tusks" »

September 11, 2008

15 - The Cheetah

…We didn’t think that there were any leopards in the desert, but you never know. So I go grab my rifle and we all head up the old riverbed. Sure enough about a kilometer later we come across what at first looks like a leopard, but is actually a cheetah that is cornered by Ben’s dog, which is barking like hell and going berserk…

Malcolm Bertoni tells of a sad duty which had to be performed.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm’s book about diamond mining in Namibia please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

Continue reading "15 - The Cheetah" »

September 04, 2008

14 – More Strandwolf Encounters

Malcolm Bertoni tells of further standwolf encounters.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm’s account of diamond mining in the Namibian desert please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

Continue reading "14 – More Strandwolf Encounters" »

August 28, 2008

13 - Strandwolf Stories

…The next morning being a Sunday, we all walked up the riverbed so have a look. To our surprise, there in the cage was a strandwolf. It had long brownish hair with white around the throat area and stripes on its legs. It seemed to be about the size of a large dog and weigh about 40 kilograms. The head was massive and we knew that hyenas had strong jaws. It was pretty ugly looking…

Malcolm Bertoni tells of a species of hyena which scavenge along beaches.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm’s account of diamond mining please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

Continue reading "13 - Strandwolf Stories" »

August 21, 2008

12 - Wildlife

Malcolm Bertoni tells of the unluckiest crow in the whole of Africa.

To read more of Malcolm’s absorbing account of working at a remote diamond mine in Namibia please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/diamonds_and_dust/

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August 14, 2008

11 - The Telephone System

Malcolm Bertoni tells of fun with phones while working at a diamond mine process plant.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm’s vivid story please click on Diamonds And Dust in the menu on this page.

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August 07, 2008

10 – The Mining Area

…There was plenty of wildlife here if you looked carefully and were patient. There were jackal, strandwolf and caracal as well as their prey, the gemsbok and springbok. There were even cheetah. One morning, in the distance I saw some ostrich bounding across one of the pans…

Malcolm Bertoni tells of the beauty of the coastal area of Namibia where he worked as a diamond miner.

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July 31, 2008

9 - Moving To Affenrucken

…No one had ever requested a transfer to Affenrucken as it was so far out of town and so isolated. Everyone tried to get a transfer away from Affenrucken…

Malcolm Bertoni continues his account of mining for diamonds in a remote desert location. To read earlier chapters of his fascinating story please click on Diamond And Dust in the menu on this page.

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July 24, 2008

8 - 66M

Malcolm Bertoni recalls the day he sent the general manager packing.

To read Malcolm's vivid account of working as a diamond miner in the Namibian desert please click on Diamonds And Dust in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "8 - 66M" »

July 17, 2008

7 - Settling In: The Early Days

...What was great about the building was that there was a platform right at the very top which one could get onto and relax. I would often go up and sit there for a while looking out over the desert and surroundings, relaxing in the sun. The views were superb, with a great perspective of the desert to the north, south and east, with the sea to the west, only 500 meters away...

Malcolm Bertoni starts work in a processing plant at a diamond mine.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid autobiography please click on Diamonds And Dust in the menu on this page.

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July 10, 2008

6 –Oranjemund

…The only access to the town was via the bridge over the river, and when leaving everyone was x-rayed to check for diamonds. So we would all have to go through a security checkpoint and get x-rayed before going on leave or out for a weekend. Due to the health implications of x-rays, employees were only allowed out once a month….

Malcolm Bertoni introduces us to Orangjemund, the diamond town where he once worked.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm’s unusual and absorbing autobiography please click on Diamonds And Dust in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "6 –Oranjemund" »

July 03, 2008

5 – About Namibia

Bushmen called Namibia “The land that God made in anger’’.

Malcolm Bertoni paints a picture of the harsh land in which he went to mine diamonds.

To read earlier chapters of Malcolm’s fascinating story please click on Diamonds And Dust in the menu on this page.

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June 26, 2008

4 - Beginnings

...I wondered what I was getting myself into as I waited to collect my bag in the dusty pseudo terminal. Rumour had it (supposedly true), that sometime around 1971-72, a new employee arrived from Cape Town, stepped off the plane, looked around at the rather depressing sight and said, “F--- this,” and got back on the plane again.

It was that sort of place....

Malcolm Bertoni is less than impressed when he arrives at the desert outpost where he will be employed in a diamond mine.

For earlier chapters of Malcolm's vivid autobiography please click on Diamonds And Dust in the menu on this page.

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June 19, 2008

3 - Ready To Jump

Malcolm Bertoni turns his back on surfing, Cape Town and an unpleasant childhood and flies off to mine diamonds.

To read the opening chapters of Malcolm's autobiography please click on Diamonds And Dust in the menu on this page.

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June 12, 2008

2 - Surfie At A Loose End

...Patrick spoke of the wide open spaces of the Namib Desert and the mad bunch of people who worked there as well as the excellent money with all accommodation, meals and medical cover provided free. The company was the Consolidated Diamond Mines or CDM as everyone called it. Located in then southern South West Africa, now Namibia, it was just over the South African border, about 800 kms from Cape Town, so not too far from civilisation for an 18-year-old....

Malcolm Bertoni begins his vivid account of diamond mining in the Namib desert. In this opening chapter he tells of his family background, and of the father whom he hardly new.

Watch out for a new episode of Dust And Diamonds every Thursday in Open Writing.

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June 05, 2008

1 - Preface

Malcolm Bertoni worked in the world's largest diamond mine, located along the southern Namibian coast in a remote harshness that was stunning in its beauty.

Today Open Writing begins to serialise his vivid account of his experiences in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

"I had no intention of writing this book, especially after so many years had passed,'' says Malcolm. "The reader might ask: why now? Good question. I was recently chatting to a friend from Cape Town and telling him about the things we used to do at this unheard of place called Affenrucken on the coast of the Namib Desert in Namibia. He would crack up laughing when I told him about some of the insane things we did.

“Why don’t you write this stuff down? It sounds like you guys had a ball.”

So here it is.''...

Malcolm's story is told in the vigorous language you would expect of men doing a hard job in severe surroundings.

It's a great read! Watch out for a new episode every Thursday in Open Writing.

Continue reading "1 - Preface" »

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