Friday/ remembering war

‘Halfpad Een Ding’/’Half of One Thing’ was written and published earlier this year in Afrikaans and in English. The author Zirk van den Berg is from Namibia, but now lives in New Zealand.

Today was the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France.

I finished reading my book about another war, last night on the flight home : the Second Boer War (1899-1902) in South Africa.  The fictional story revolves around a New Zealander called Gideon Lancaster that joins the British forces in the Boer War, and becomes a spy.  Soon, ‘the enemy’ and ‘betrayal’ became impossible to pin down in his mind.   Legendary Boer general Christiaan de Wet, and scheming to capture him, is also part of the story. (The general never was captured.  But his brother Piet de Wet who was also a successful Boer general, was captured by the British toward the end of the war.  He then became a member of the National Scouts – Boers serving with the British forces!).

It was madness (OK, all wars are madness) for the Boers to take up arms against the British Empire, of course.   We learned of Lord Kitchener’s ‘scorched earth’ policy in school : burning down farmsteads and slaughtering all the live-stock.  And during the later stages of the war, the British rounded up and isolated the civilian Boer population in concentration camps, one of the earliest uses of this method by modern powers.  To this day the United States Army uses case studies from the Boer War to teach ethics in combat.

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