A PRETTY PEBBLE

Look at the innocence of a young girl as she bathes in the free flowing waters of the Orange River in the wilds of South Africa.

The town of Kimberley is but a stone’s throw away up river.

Unassuming, untouched, uneducated, unplucked.

A young Dutch soldier peers at her  through the trees.

And this is not the first time he has done it.

She is juvenile, barely developed, exquisite, ebony skin.

Her few clothes lay on the river bank.

The sun beams down and basks  the hour of the morning.

In a moment, the beautiful creature will bend down to the shallow water and the curves of her body will arouse the interests of the man in a sexual way he knows is quite improper.

She grasps in her hand a pretty pebble unlike any other the man or the girl had seen before or since.

The power of the erection was much too strong for the soldier to withhold.

The naked girl saw the now apparent soldier amid the bracken and bramble of the trees.

She was shy in her total nudity and lost of modesty but she was incredulous at what had just happened.

The feint smile on her lips lingered only until the sound of the gunshot from the man’s pistol had broken the silence of the morning.

And in that moment the soldier was gone.

She held the pretty pebble only long enough for the first tear to fall from the ducts of her eyes.

And then it dropped back into the water from whence it had come.

The pretty pebble had changed this girl’s life forever and a day.

And later on the fortunes  of what futurists would call the Rainbow Nation.

The girl would never again return to the spot on which she had bathed this most meaningful of mornings..

Within a few days, her brother Erasmus would bathe in the waters of the Orange River at that exact spot which was but just a few steps from the humble family home.

Erasmus grasped the pretty pebble in his hand and looked intently into the eyes of his sister, Elizabeth.

She stared back for what must have seemed like an age.

The pretty pebble was the first diamond ever found on South African shores.

Twenty One Carat.

The year was 1867.

It was significant.

I cannot say it was the actual spark which lit the fire.

But I am pretty sure it was the pretty pebble which brought two European nation states, Great Britain and the Netherlands, into direct conflict for a whole generation for the rights of the mineral wealth of the diamond.

Elizabeth, the sweet young girl at the river bank, has an appendage to this story.

Married at fifteen to a young village boy and left within a year pregnant with his child.

Remarried at twenty to a Dutchman who treated her like a whore, was violent towards her and who she later divorced.

Married again to a man of her own kind at twenty four whom she loved and with whom she produced two more children but who died suddenly of a chronic disease before his thirtieth birthday.

One further childless marriage followed a few years later to a man who would be killed at the hands of the British as a guerrilla in the Boer War of 1901, the most bloodiest of human conflicts in her living memory.

Learning to fight the cause and privileged in later life to know a man named Nelson Mandela who had  a vision for the people of the South African nation.

Yet suffered an ignominious death in the early years of apartheid and to never know what freedom was ever meant to be when segegated from other human beings she yearned to love.

On 14th February 1950, she was the mother of three and the grandmother of nine in total, a great grandmother of two.

Elizabeth died on that day with the pretty pebble in her hand.

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