One evening we were caught in the middle of a big thunderstorm in a dense kiaat forest in the east.
Lightning was striking worryingly close and the ground shook as bolts of electricity hit all around us. We turned off all the radios as we didn’t want to attract a Lightning Bolt to one of the Casspirs.
A lightning bolt hit a giant kiaat Tree nearby, shattering it and sending pieces of wood and splinters flying in all directions. A chunk of wood landed next to me, so I picked it up and tossed into one of the fires, Bennie screamed at me, ‘NO! Don’t do that!’ while some of the Ovambos took off in different directions. OomTom was so pissed off that he growled like an Oshkosh truck. Most of the Ovambos were shaking their heads in disbelief.
I just laughed and said, ‘what’s wrong, Bennie? The fire needed more wood.
Bennie knew me, and as pissed off as he was with me, he loved me.
‘Sergeant Jimmy, that’s such bad luck. Now the lightning it’s going to Strike the fire soon.’
I thought about this Ovambo belief and then my own cultures maxims. ‘Bennie, we believe that lightning never strikes twice in the same place, ‘I said, ‘so I’m going to go and sleep next to that tree that just got hit by the lightning.’
‘Eish, Bennie and some of the other Ovambos responded, shaking their heads. They were disgusted with me, but I rolled out my Sleeping Bag next to the tree and waited for the rain to start coming down on me. The Ovambos would run for the Casspirs when it came down and there wouldn’t be place for me anyway.
With no bivvy, I was used to spending nights out in the open with the rain pouring down; I often slept like this. A few times during the night I would wake up and curse the rain, but in the morning the sun would come out and quickly dry out both my sopping wet sleeping bag and me. These were special moments, lying out in the open in the bush with my friends.