Have you ever experienced your life flash by like lightning and wonder why you’re still alive? I mean a genuine near-death experience that had the ground-splitting, Armageddon feeling like it was a walk in the park? That’s exactly how I felt last Thursday when I attended the South African National Defence Force Capability Demonstration (I’m telling you, some real “Xbox has nothing on these graphics” type stuff was happening there).
Let’s start from the beginning.
My colleagues and I were invited to a capability demonstration hosted by the SANDF which took place last week Thursday (18th of May). After we registered, confirmed our attendance and hassled our way around logistical issues (which resulted in my waking up at 4 am that morning to be at the base at 6 am), we had everything sorted and I arrived on time at Waterkloof Airforce Base.
Hawa arrived before me, so she had already signed and weighed in. After the admin processes of getting my name tag and weighing in (I swear that scale was broken, there’s no way I weight that much), I hugged Katlego (you guys probably know him from my previous post) and proceeded to the waiting area which had nothing but awesome vibes and food (yes!!!) – as you would guess, my good friend and I found heaven and stuffed our faces…
Long story cut short, we flew in the military aircraft to the Bloemfontein Military Base and arrived there to find yet again more food (I’m telling you the brownies and mini burger things were just out of this world) and we got acquainted with other media personnel from Bloem and The Citizen (her name was Amanda I think). The event started with a poetic piece “I am an African Child” and a scripture reading and opening prayer. There were a few speeches and a media briefing, then we all headed to Kimberly for the actual demonstration. Mind you, they just kept feeding us one way or another, so to date; this is my favourite event (I was punished by the food landing on my ever round tummy and other unmentionable parts).
We arrived there a bit late but just in time to see them rolling out the big machine guns and new military cars and air crafts so fast, the only way you’d know one was there, is your confirmed death. It was loud, scary, exciting and adrenaline filled but beautiful all at once. They demonstrated different tactics for airdrops and bombs. Things, however, got very real when they simulated a war for us. We experienced an actual war-zone and I won’t lie, I was shaken up by the fact that something so beautiful and raw would result in so many lives lost. It was a bittersweet experience.
The reason for the capability demonstration was to highlight the importance of having a defence force and to show how much work and effort is put into making everything function. The Army Chief lamented the fact that there is little money budgeted for the military, therefore, they are unable to progress in terms of weapons development and to further train a number of soldiers needed as well as to guarantee their safety in battle. He could not hide his anger and frustrations when he spoke about soldiers being out-skilled and outgunned by guerrilla groups in other countries. His pain was evident as he mentioned the loss of life due to the inadequate quality of the uniforms and the harsh terrain that neither soldier nor captain is ever prepared for.
Apart from the beautiful event, I was filled with a sense of sadness throughout (realising the gravity of the situation from both points of view). One of the evaluators spoke of the discipline our men and women carry when representing our country, but it was also sad to find out whenever we succeed in a battle, the opposing militant groups would take out their frustrations on neighbouring towns and villages, so all in all, nobody wins.
We were flown back home in another aircraft. It was so cold, I couldn’t manage to nap for a few minutes. I took that moment, as we were passing over beautifully lit cities beneath us, to reflect and remind myself how fortunate I am. I suppose this should and will serve as a reminder for us to keep hoping and praying for world peace (I know it’s a far-fetched theory but we have to believe in something)
I enjoyed myself thoroughly and look forward to the next one next year.
The carnage and noise was on another level… Made me feel like South African gamers need to up their anti with virtual reality
Took a picture with a Navy Captain from Argentina who was just out of this world!!!
Here I was doing my thang with my clickety click and Hawa is doing her thing with the selfie
We found ourselves taking pictures by the “Forbidden Zones” lol… I honestly didn’t know. But here’s to World Peace