A reflection from an evening at Lake Rukwa


The deep orange and red of a setting sun – throwing its flame across a lake of gentle lapping waves.

The uncluttering, untying, unknotting of fishing net and ropes moving with the rhythmic and untiring motion of fisherman around me. Sitting and observing, the moment envelopes me. Makes me feel that my work, thoughts and emotions are being freed, that my stresses of the day are being released and that my promise to the earth is reconnected and recommitted.  Reconnected to the grainy loose soil, the sharp, jagged stones scattered at my feet, the tufts of thorny little green weeds poking into my waist, to the movement of water kissing the shore.

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Recommitted to the unequivocal sense of belonging that only the earth can provide – this soil is linked to the soil of my winter dry flower beds in Johannesburg. This water is linked to the beach where my nephews play in Auckland. This air is the same air that my spirit exhaled at the most spiritual moment of my life, when I saw tigers in the wild in Rajasthan in India. The breeze is the same that cools the skin of my colleagues sitting around me. We all feel this magical connection together and separately. Making sense of the seduction of the natural world through the comfort of its embrace – cooling our tempered spirits in the way we each need.

In mining we work with absolute reliance and belief in the earth providing our living. I realised that day at the lake, that I needed a reminder that the ore bodies, the waste rock, the water we use, all of it, is part of a bigger system of sustenance and sustaining.

The path out of the lake area, is and has for centuries been guarded by the majestic and ancient sentinels of the natural world. A hush of wonder and mesmerising conscience evoking calm takes over my thoughts and feelings. As I gaze out at the breathtaking splendor of the Baobab trees, it is difficult for me to distinguish their spirit beings from their physical presence. What is completely tangible however, is their hold over me. I am on this earth for a mere speck of their lives. They will bear witness to generations of people, to our thoughts, promises, commitments and actions: Our footprints on the earth, the scars, the rehabilitation, the restoration, the living as part of the natural system and the imposing of worthless dominance over the ecology on which we depend.

I fell asleep that night feeling an unfettered lightness. The pause moment at the lake connected me to my job and why what I do is so important to me. We only have one chance to mine gold, one chance to make a scar or operate with the delicate forethought of a surgeon. One chance to do right by the land that we have been entrusted, one chance to change the experience and the lake forever.