I don't know about you, but we had a couple of issues at school which were guaranteed to lead to a fatherly talk afterwards behind the bicycle shed. Why we took the disputes so seriously I cannot remember, but it was mainly about Ford v Chev, which Ford won since Chev left the country in sympathy with the anti-apartheid struggle, or so I was told.
In Suidwes (Namibia today) where I grew up in a small place called Welwitchia and then renamed Khorixas, the grown-ups all seemed to agree that the Chev K10 (or something) was a better 4wd vehicle than the Ford F150. This was in the early seventies and the vehicles huge with no real comforts like power steering or air-conditioning. Hence the ooms were big men with thick & powerful forearms, ready to do battle with terrorists, lions and of course their wives who were rather large (and ancient) tannies who took no nonsense from them or anyone else. That was long before every second accountant caught onto the double cab craze (there were no double cabs) and the veldt was left for men who belonged there, and not the wannabes we see today. Nor were the vehicles over-equipped with all sorts of "look good and have no practical value" add-ons, sold to them by smooth talking "wild life experts" in the city. And no one towed a caravan into the veldt. In fact you were lucky to find a nice cosy spot for your sleeping bag next to the fire with your rifle next to you which brings me to another argument of epic proportions.
The 308 & 303 caliber versus 30-06...man that caused many a fist fight between us, since we would not believe the other side who were just plain wrong. It was good legal training and also excellent lessons in life, as we formed ad hoc partnerships to turn on anyone who had weird ideas like a 375 magnum. This included one fellow in particular (he came from a more pacifist family) who could not name a single caliber to support and hence declared neutrality. Yeah we soon educated him for his own good, that self-declared neutrality is not respected by all parties involved. As said, it was good legal training and he hastily chose the 308 caliber because his dad's G3 rifle was of that caliber.
I myself hold on to the 30-06 caliber as the best all-round caliber, being able to shoot from a terrorist, to a lion, to kudu with it. An elephant too, if you could get close enough and had a real death wish - I saw that once but the oom used a 485 caliber rifle which sounded like a cannon. The recoil knocked him back and the elephant front feet lifted from the ground (just an inch or two). Being a meticulous fellow he had a mate with a backup 375 magnum and then us admiring the scene from 100 yards away. *The elephant in question was wounded by what we suspected terrorists and causing much harm and danger to the locals so it had to be culled - we still have its foot which dad made into a chair. Still a sad state of affairs and we swore vengeance on the first terrorist we could find. Is not right to harm a noble elephant without reason and if he happened to attack them he was just doing his duty anyway or so the argument went.
The real sharpshooters amongst us (and there were many), used the 243 caliber and patiently explained the merits of the faster bullet against a slower but heavier bullet we supported. Personally I never believed that, and still believe a nice hollow point 38 special will do a lot more good against a criminal than a smaller 22 since most household shootouts are at a very close range. Anyway, that is a discussion you can follow in my book Mean Streets - Life in the Apartheid Police. Unlike other kids, we never played with marbles but used empty cartridge shells for a similar game since we had access to empty cartridges...marbles were for the rich kids in the city.
Then one day a fellow arrived with a 50 Browning cartridge he stole from the Army and that settled all arguments for a week until he failed to produce the rifle with which to shoot it with and was duly disqualified by popular vote. Another round of arguments soon started and may still be ongoing in the platteland (rural areas) as far as I know.
To get back to the Ford v Chev debate, my father held the opinion that the Chev is better than the Ford and had the opportunity to tell the Ford executives (no idea what they were doing there except hunting) to copy it. I remember a distinctly shocked silence from them at this advice, but they could not really argue - my father's government issued Chev never broke down, whilst the Fords did all the time on that trip. Thinking back, I believe that was more due to the lack of off-road driving ability of those long haired liberals from Ford. However, I shocked my dad to no end by supporting the only other alternative - Land Rover.
Now those Land Rovers were the Series 3 and had three gear levers...something designed to make one happy (never took that much according to my late wife). The normal black one to change gears, the red one for low range (proper low range unlike today's versions which is not low enough) and a yellow one for high range. They also had a slide window like a World War 2 Heinkel bomber and steps to get into the vehicle, unlike the Ford & Chev where you took a running jump or climbed it like a tree to get access. They also had built in recovery points and no, they seldom broke down, though all vehicles overheated, including them. Some had the Fairey overdrive in and double petrol tanks with a lever between the legs at the driver's side to switch. Somehow that made me always smile. There were no Toyota's for the Japanese invasion came later.
It was in many ways the last of the great wilderness experience...I remember standing on my dad's Chev watching herds of 3000 plus Springbok (antelope) rushing past. He told me to take a good look for that is something I will probably never see again. And I did not and so I think back of days in the sun where corruption was relatively unknown and life probably better than now. No BEE and no long haired liberals who could bother us too much. Men were men and women were women.
Koos Kotze is a former member of the South African Police Force. He served between 1985 and 1991 primarily as a sergeant in the Pretoria Flying Squad. After leaving the Police Force he obtained the law degrees B Iuris & LLB at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa) and was a practicing commercial law attorney for eight years. He also wrote several books on business, law, counter terrorism and security issues. He is a widower and lives in Bloemfontein, South Africa.