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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

BURIED IN THE SKY (article first published : 2001-06-3)

In Buried in the Sky, Durban writer Rick Andrew has produced an account of a three month camp on the Angolan border in 1976. He tells not only his own story but also those of other “troopies” on the border at the same time, apparently gathered through interviews. These are presented almost in short story form, a device which works well and avoids the need for a constant narrative flow.

Rick Andrew writes with convincing honesty and avoids any excessive symbolism and white South African angst. Some of the stories are amusing and wry, others offer a grim glimpse of the callousness and hostility the SADF presented to their own conscripts. One troopie has a chilling account of the vicious brutality of the Detention Barracks, the SADF’s’ punishment for wayward soldiers.

The author convincingly creates a sense of the moral confusion of serving in the SADF. He was nearly 30 years old when he did this camp, was serving in a citizen force regiment (The Durban Light Infantry - DLI) in the year that for many marks the start of violent black resistance to apartheid South Africa.

It occurred to this reviewer (who did not serve in the SADF) that the experiences of an 18 year-old school leaver serving in the security apparatus of the Groot Krokodil in the 1980’s might come closer to the heart of the darkness.

The soft cover book is published by Penguin and is priced at R79.95.

Note to the printers and binders: My copy barely lasted the reading of it before the binding gave in on the first 50-odd pages.




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