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Diamonds And Dust: 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

Thinking back it was surprising how well everyone got on with each other. There were no fights or arguments. Heated discussions yes. But that was as far as it went. There was none of this macho bullshit that often comes with young men.

Perhaps it was because we all young, were there for a purpose and didn’t have to prove anything to anyone. The company was very strict about bad behaviour, but as long as you did your job and turned up for work, then everything would be ok.

I remember when one afternoon two guys, Louis and Dolf, were having a real heated discussion about some political thing. There were often discussions about politics. The situation in southern Africa was changing rapidly and the whites were being challenged everywhere. Louis and Dolf had been drinking some wine in the mild mid afternoon sun and we were all sitting contentedly around the pool. Most of us listened with amusement to the discussion which was getting more and more abstract and confusing as the wine flowed.

After about 30 minutes of arguing, Dolf suddenly stopped and asked:
“But what is your point?” (“Maar wat is jou punt?”)

Louis paused in thought for a moment and said:
“I forget what my point is, but anyway….” (“Ek vergeet nou wat my punt is, maar in alle geval….”) And carried on as if nothing had happened.

We all cracked up laughing at the incongruousness of the whole discussion where one forget what one was discussing and arguing about in the first place.

*

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. Perhaps there was an automatic selection process whereby any arseholes or people that didn’t get on with each other were rejected.
Another surprising thing was how well the different groups got on with each other. The South Africans were in the majority and Afrikaans was the main language. I spoke Afrikaans quite well and got better the longer I stayed there. There were also English speaking South Africans as well as a few Poms, Bruce the mad Welshman, Ben the Dutch cook and even an American pilot who was based out at Affenrucken for a few months. Everyone soon learned to swear fluently in Afrikaans. Afrikaans was also spoken by the Ovambos so one had to learn some to be able to communicate with them.
We also tended to do things together. Often after breakfast we would go to the pool and sit and chat and decide what to do for the rest of the day.
Perhaps we were lucky and a great bunch of guys were fortunate enough to all be there at the same time. I know that after we all left that Affenrucken changed a lot. It would never be the same again.



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