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Diamonds And Dust: 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

After I left, I caught up with many of the ex-Affenruckers in Cape Town. I shared a unit with a few of them for a short while I sorted myself out for university and then we all slowly but surely went our own ways. Some got married. One moved to Jo’burg, another to Mossel Bay, quite a few lived in Port Elizabeth. One or two like myself, moved overseas, although I did this a bit later. Some I never saw again and I often wonder what happened to them and whether they ever think of that unique place out in the desert. A few never really wanted to stay in touch and didn’t really want to talk about those times. That is how it is.

We’re scattered all over the world; as many ex-Oranjemunders are. We became plumbers, fitters, electricians, accountants, economists, teachers, farmers, and in my case an economist, marine scientist and then a university lecturer. Some have passed on – far too many in my opinion. But I’m still in touch with many of the guys that lived and worked at Affenrucken.

We’ve grown greyer, fatter, slower and wrinkled. Our memories have faded and our minds are not as sharp as they used to be. We can barely recognise one another, that’s how much we have changed in the past 30 years. I now have to wear glasses as I’m as blind as a bat – a legacy of sitting in front of a computer monitor for the last 15 years or so.

But when we get together, the years slide away and no time has passed at all and we are young again and it’s as if we had met last week and were continuing unfinished conversations. This is what friendship is all about. Friendship that spans decades and continents. I know that no matter where I am in the world I can pick up the phone and talks to these friends and they would say:
“Hoe gaan dit ou nek?” (“How goes it, old neck?”)

We have a kindred spirit that is hard to measure. Because we know that we did something different, something unique. Perhaps its how guys in the armed forces or those that went to war felt. There’s that sense of alliance that is hard to define or evaluate.

In our transient world where nothing is the same, where nothing is constant and where change is happening so rapidly, it is the one thing that we all still have and will always remain the same.


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