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Friday, May 29, 2015

The Milestone.
I know you. Not as white-washed and clean as you are now, here, sitting in chipped old age in this splendid setting of our unit's special exhibition at the Military Museum in Johannesburg, - but I know you from where you came from, many moons ago when I first saw you. When you were still relatively young. Where your makers, those old Portuguese Africans of Angola, put you down. To tell travellers exactly where they were and how far they still had to go. In fact, if I had the time and means I would be able to go there now and tell the world precisely, to within a few hundred metres, where you stood first. Where we saw you standing next to the road outside Perreira de Eca, on the way to Villa de Rocades. At that stage already re-named Xangongo and Ongiva, after the communists and traitors had won and invaded and changed your world. And called Perreira de Eca Ongiva and Villa de Rocades Xangongo. Making you obsolete. Out-dated. Passe.
So we loaded you up on our Buffels and took you along. Back to Omauni, our base in South West Africa. You never complained, through all the swaying and bumping and shooting terrorists and their hosts. Maybe you were even chuffed to be with us, that we were fighting them. They had made you redundant, after all. And there you stood, outside our pub, just as you had stood on the Angolan road, telling your story. We liked you, and admired you, - but already we didn't understand what you were trying to tell us. So we carried on doing what we were told to do, to the best of our ability.
But it was not enough. The communists and traitors came after South West, too. And won and changed it to Namibia. And we loaded you up and took you even further south, back to South Africa. Where you took up pride of place with your adopted unit again. And once more you tried to tell us something. And we liked and admired you, - but still we didn't get it. So we carried on doing what we were told to do, to the best of our ability.
Till the communists and traitors were given South Africa, too. And closed us down altogether. And made all of us redundant. Obsolete. Out-dated. Passe. Like you. And now you have been given pride of place in our museum. You and your message. Chipped and old, but newly-painted. Black into your grooves. Have we figured it out yet? I don't think so. Because we walk past, in our white shirts and suits and dark polished shoes, and look, and like and admire you. But your message, behind the white-wash, still doesn't penetrate. Exactly where we are and how far we have to go. Nao comprehendo...
wr, 2015.

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