Rough Diamonds

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Chapter 16

Jako Retief

“What’s that call?”, Mike asked Jako.

“I don’t know, do you know?”, Jako directed his question to Jim, the caddie-master in charge of arranging the golf. They had found him at the clubhouse, in a heavily treed area. Jim, 43, was black, neat and well groomed. He did not have the luxury of good clothes, but he was still tidy.

Jim listened to the irritating, chattering sound. “It’s the bulbul.” He added: “It’s the dark-capped one. Umfaans, (boys), what’s that different ‘song’?”

He held up his two fingers to show that he was using the term “song” loosely, referring to a noise that was actually more of an annoying racket.

“It sounds something like this:” Mike proceeded to mimic the sound he’d just heard: “Euwagh, euwagh”.

“I know that. It’s the hadeda,” Jako quickly responded.

“Quite right,” Jim confirmed. “Now, let’s try another.”

He made a new sound. “Let’s see if you get that one.”


Jako and Mike first noticed the African boy when he arrived at the golf course one day. It turned out he was Jim’s son.

He was small for his age - 15, the same age as Jako - and rather skinny – unlike Jako. However, Jako would discover the lion heart that beat in that chest.

The boys approached each other and performed the rituals of greeting. Jako spoke in Zulu.

“Jako,” he said quietly.

“Mike,” Mike said.

“Christmas,” the African guy said.

“That’s an unusual name.” Jako said.

“Christmas day. My parents took it as a sign that I was born on that day, and my mother lost three other children.”

“What do you mean? Really lost them? As in, they disappeared? Or at childbirth?” Jako asked

“At birth.”

Jako sensed that it was difficult for the boy to speak about this matter.

“Aauw!” Jako uttered in sympathy. “Where do you live?”

“With my family on the farm over the hill.”

“Are you related to Jim, the caddie master?”

“He’s my father,” Christmas confirmed.

Mike asked: “Why have I not seen you around the golf course before?”

“I helped my mother, but I’m growing big quickly and my place is with my father.”

They chatted a while until Jako said: “Hamba kahle,” and the boys said their goodbyes and parted ways.


The children were growing older now. Jako was well into his teens and Mike was embarrassed to be coping with the breaking of his voice. They’d seen Chris (he’d shortened his name) at the golf club regularly at weekends when the boys came home from boarding school.

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