amusing tale was told to me over the telephone from Jim Murray,
who worked on the Northern Areas of the mine in the mid 60's.
"During the mid 60’s,
the company had a mobile exploration unit that would wander the
vast and remote wilderness of the mine. It consisted of a group
of roughneck guys, numbering about 20 or so souls.
These chaps operated a rig known as an
Aqua Rig and would drill for core samples all over the Sperrgebiedt.
They would often be away from Oranjemund for a few weeks at a
time living in a convoy of dusty old caravans.
One could almost imagine this convoy of trucks, caravans
and water tankers, blazing a path through the desert, their drill
rig in tow.
Now one must remember that back in
those days, there were not any lady folk or even other human
beings wandering around the area.
So it was on one of those typical, hot,
dry Namib desert afternoon, when the General Manager of the day,
Mr.Devlin decided to pay an unannounced visit to his drill rig.
What a shock he got, when he turned up on the site after
driving a good few hours through the desert to find his workforce
all stripped down to just a pair of shorts. Some were even just
wearing their underpants. One could understand their logic, after
all there were no lady folk around to be offended. Anyhow it
was bloody hot and dusty working out in the arid desert.
Being the General Manager he was, he flew
into a ranting rage and called the foreman over, he demanded
to know why his employees were dressed in such a naked manner.
The foreman tried in vain to explain the working conditions,
the heat…..the dust…… But Mr.Devlin was
having none of this. This was the almighty DeBeers group, they
had standards…. “I will be returning in a month
and I expect to find these men properly attired”, he instructed
the foreman. With that he climbed back into the white land rover
and headed back in the general direction of Oranjemund.
It was about a month later when Mr.Devlin
had decided that he would be heading out to the Aqua Rig to inspect
his troops. But unbeknown to him, somehow somebody managed to
tip of the Aqua rig’s foreman. A plan was put into action.
Sometime around midday, Mr. Devlin’s
land rover pulled up at the site. He climbed out of the vehicle
and his eyes widened at the surreal scene playing out before
him. Every single one of those workers was dressed in a full
suit, bowtie and all……
They were the best dressed rig team in