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Saturday, November 25, 2006

On Guard
















In silence after a long day as the cool wind wafts in from the desert at Mahla two soldiers stand-to in a sandbag bunker. So far away, in Sudan, far from loved ones, but closer than ever to their comrades. It makes me think of the following quote: "From this day until the ending of the world those of us in it will be remembered, we lucky few, we band of brothers; for he who sheds his blood with me, shall be my brother." Posted by Picasa

Important
















I took this photo in the bottom of the crater at Mahla when I was there. In this photo you see three of the important things for the people of Darfur: Their children, water and their animals. Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 24, 2006

Some of my Favourite Quotes

"I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor."
-Henry David Thorea

"It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is, not according to what he has."
-Henry Ward Beecher

"Between stimulus and response is our greatest power; the freedom to choose."
-Victor Frankl

"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."
-Albert Einstein

"Today's mighty oak is just yesterday's nut, that held its ground."
-David Icke

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."
-Douglas Noel Adams

"Favour and gifts disturb justice."
-Danish Proverb

"The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism."
-Norman Vincent

"A talkative bird will not build a nest."
-West African proverb

"Ain't nothing the matter with a soldier that ain't the matter with everyone else."
-Daniel Taradash

"Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one."
-Sam Rayburn

"Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right."
-Henry Ford

"There are no atheists in foxholes' isn't an argument against atheism, it's an argument against foxholes."
-James Morrow

"The inhabitants of the earth are of two sorts: Those with brains, but no religion, and those with religion, but no brains."
-Abu'l- 'Ala al-Ma 'arri

"He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe."
-Marcus Aurelius

"Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you're going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth. And you should save it for someone you love."
-Butch Hancock

"Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made president should on no account be allowed to do the job."
-Douglas Noel Adams

"In politics stupidity is not a handicap."
-Napoleon Bonaparte

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Spreading Love
















Lt Col Jan Barendse of South Africa spreading some love with the simple act of handing this young lady a piece of candy. Some rewards are priceless. Please think of the people of Darfur in their continuing crises and remember who the victims are.

Show of Force
















Platoons 2 and 3 of Bravo Company preparing to move out from Mahla base on a show of force patrol. The aim of this type of patrol is mainly to show what you have to keep belligerents out of the area. If they stay away the people of Darfur benefit.

Combat Ready
















Major L. Wolmarans, the commander of Bravo Company, 8 SA Infantry Battalion combat ready as her troops are in stand-to. I took this photo in the command position to be used in case of an attack.

Safety Precautions
















Safety precautions is a drill carried out before the troops are allowed to enter Mahla base after their return from any excursion.

Protecting the Eyes
















These troops from 8 SA Infantry Battalion in Upington deployed on the ground near Mugran village in Northern Darfur to protect the observers as they interact with the locals out of shot.

Mambas on Patrol
















These Mamba Mk 3's of Platoon 1, Bravo Company on patrol near Mahla. I accompanied them during my recent visit to their base.

MGL
















One of the section (squad) leaders in Platoon 1 busy loading an MGL (Multiple Grenade Launcher) during our patrol during my visit to Mahla. These 40mm 6-shot weapons have the firepower to blast any patrol out of trouble. Recently the effectiveness of the MGL was demonstrated when a patrol of 6 SA Infantry Battalion got involved in a firefight and used this weapon effectively.

On Patrol
















On patrol with Bravo Company in North Darfur.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Company Sergeant-Major
















At the back Maj Wolmarans waits as Sergeant-Major Kennedy prepares her company for her during roll call parade. Mahla also happens to be the neatest base I have seen in Darfur after my eight months here so far.

Stand To
















It is South African doctrine to go into stand-to positions whenever they are in defensive positions from before sunrise until after sunrise and from before sundown to after sundown every day. This drill ensures everybody is ready during the two times when the light changes to observe any changes outside the base perimeter, it also ensures everybody is ready for any first- or last light attacks and has many more advantages. On my second night at Mahla there was a false alarm and everybody knew exactly where to go and what to do. I felt the safest I have felt thus far in Darfur. The unit at Mahla is Bravo Company of 8 SA Infantry Battalion.

FN MAG Gunner
















A South African FN MAG gunner in his stand-to position as the sun sets over Mahla in Sector 6.

Sentry
















This South African is on sentry duty at Mahla.

Camel Trail
















Coming out of Mahla Crater we followed the centuries old camel trail. The going was slow as the camels in this photo brought up the rear to a herd of about fifty camels. Not the nicest view to have a camel butt in your face all the time.

Camels Drinking
















I took this photo inside Mahla Crater. There were at least four large herds of camels and they made a lot of noise. The water in the crater is pitch black, salty and does not smell good. The camels though seem to have no problem. One of the locals proudly told us his camels can go without water for a month in the cooler season.

Mahla Crater
















During my short three-day visit to the South Africans at Mahla for Tamam Magazine I got to see the famous Mahla Crater. Unfortunately the photo does not do it justice since it's size is really magnificent.

To the Crater
















I was given an armed escort from Mahla to the famous Mahla Crater. In the background the troops are greeting local Sudanese.

Command and Control
















I think it was Patton who said "a piece of paper makes you an officer; a radio makes you a commander." Maj Wolmarans at Mahla.

The Mahla Weather Rock


I am all South African

I would just like to point out that I am not British as speculated at http://sudanwatch.blogspot.com/2006/11/soldier-of-africa-blogging-from-darfur.html , but I am in fact South African. The first sentence after the title of my blog happens to be "I am a South African soldier."

Welcoming at Mahla
















I recently spent three days at Mahla, a South African base in the North of Sector 6 and the Northernmost base of ours in Darfur. The woman at the vehicle is Maj L. Wolmarans, the commanding officer at the base.

Arrival at Mahla

















These are South African soldiers in all-round defence at the airstrip at Mahla.

Meat Market

















This is the way meat is displayed in the El Fashier market. I may add that the sun is very very hot.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Reminder
















Just a little reminder of who the victims of this conflict are. He is still smiling after his family had to flee after their village was attacked. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Working in my "Office"
















This is me working in my "office", which is a tent with air conditioning. At least the heat in El Fashier is not as bad anymore as a month or two ago. The nights are actually getting cold now. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Armed to the Teeth
















The AMIS patrols in this sector are much better armed now than when I arrived here eight months ago. These soldiers are Rwandan since this is a Rwandan sector. By the way, yesterday I had 99 days left on the mission. Posted by Picasa

Louis
















My friend, Louis, busy helping some South African Engineers at Zamzam MGS in El Fashier. "Zamzam" means Good Water, or something to that effect and is also the transit camp for AMIS personnel entering and exiting the mission area. Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 13, 2006

UN Coming?
















These pallettes and shipping containers have been outside the AMIS HQ for a while now. They are for extra office space for incoming UN people. I think the UN taking over is imminent. Posted by Picasa

Internet Perch
















The wireless is on, but cannot get through the final wall around our house so the mountain came to Mohammed. Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 10, 2006

Airport Closed
















Yesterday as I went to the airport to see off the two other South Africans, who are going to Khartoum for two days, we were met by a closed airport at El Fashier. In the photo you can make out the airport checkpoint bottom right and the men on the vehicle are SLA rebels. The reason why the airport was closed? Because Minni Minawwi, the leader of the largest SLA faction was going to land here. The plane took off without our guys, but they got a flight later in the day. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Night Visitor
















Last night we had a visitor. I was washing dishes when I noticed this fellow sniffing around outside. We gave him some food so I think he will be back. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Parcels
















Few things are as important for a soldier as his parcels. It lifts morale and gives him/her something to look forward to. Yesterday my parcels arrived. The top one is from my good friend Ursula and the bottom one contains all the food I ordered from South Africa that my sister packed and sent me. It is heavy! Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 06, 2006

Power Failure
















Recently we have had regular power failures. This afternoon at home I found Maj Page preparing lunch on a multi-fuel stove. Yesterday afternoon we made lunch on the fire place and last night after supper the power also went off. It happens almost every night now. Apparently before we arrived in Darfur there was not even power in this area. El Fashier is quite unused to electricity. Posted by Picasa

Caffeine Blast
















Last night I made myself some Turkish Coffee. Those of you who have had this tar-like substance before will know what kind of buzz it leaves one with. I had my first taste on a patrol near El Geneina a couple of months ago and while driving back to base I felt like I was floating above my seat! My co-driver could not believe how talkative I was as well. Posted by Picasa

Saturday Lunch
















This is what was left over from our Saturday lunch. The other two South Africans decided to go through some trouble and in the end we had a very good meal. The meat was tougher and does not taste the same as back home and the potatoes also tastes differently. The green beans we got from cans sent up in parcels from family. This is not an indication of how we eat most of the time. If you go back further in my blog you will see the food AMZAR sometimes gives us to eat. Posted by Picasa

Rewiring
















At least 95% of all electrical multi-adaptors sold here are of very poor quality. The wiring will burn through and some outlets will just not work. Maj Page decided to rewire the one we have in the kitchen since it was also packing up, after just three weeks. He redid all the wiring inside the device with wire he obtained from the South African engineers and now it works just fine. The risk of being electrocuted is higher than in South Africa. I know of at least one case of a MILOB being electrocuted since I have been here. Posted by Picasa