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The Power Of Seventy Paperback – May 16, 2014
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The novel could be described as a somewhat-oxymoronic “relaxing adventure.” Though the stakes are high for the guys involved, and there’s plenty of action, it’s really a fun and quick read – the kind of book you take on vacation. Or better yet: it’s the kind of book that feels like going on vacation.
Given that author Colenbrander has led a fairly adventurous life of his own, he lends a fair bit of credibility and realism to this tale, so it seems less like an adventurous fantasy, and more like something that could happen. However, he does veer to the fantastical in some respects (all the adventurers are uncommonly handsome, for one), but in an adventure story, that’s sometimes the order of the day.
If you want an escape, complete with local color about the Congo, and even some tender moments among friends, then The Power of Seventy is an entertaining choice. You might not want to get into the predicaments they do, but you’ll be glad to sit back and enjoy the ride.
From his first paragraphs Gerard offers the flavor of the novel and adventure and warmly humorous and richly detailed tale upon which he is embarking: ‘As dusk settled into darkness, one could hear the clink of ice in jugs of water, with glasses, chairs and other paraphernalia being set around a table by a man of senior years, as he prepared for a meeting with old friends. They did not meet often, living in different countries – Ralph in Australia, Jaco all over the place, and Rusty in South Africa. With their history going back 50 years or so, and all natural borne South Africans, when they did meet there was a huge amount of territory to be covered, and always a limited amount of time in which to do it. Each had a rich history of adventure and adversity woven into their fascinating lives. Rusty finished off the table setting, looking forward to their arrival, and sharing what was always an interesting “catch up” since their last meeting some years back. Ralph and Jaco were due in a few minutes, and Rusty chuckled as he opened the driveway gate with the remote, remembering how paranoid Jaco was about punctuality. He had a sound argument, suggesting that a meeting with one person affected the lives of many people who arranged their schedules around one individual ` s meeting time. If you were not punctual, you upset the arrangements of many people, and in Jaco’s view this was an act of thoughtlessness and selfishness that could make him very angry – and you did not need to experience a Jaco lecture. He reasoned that if you could not keep a small agreement, you would fail with any other agreement, and he ran his very successful businesses on this philosophy.’
And so we are with these men and ready to embark on a story so full of novel ideas and twists and turns that putting this book down before completing it strains credibility. Gerard supplies a fine synopsis (but there is much much more inside the corpus of the book): Three old friends reunited. A hunt for precious treasure. The adventure of a lifetime. When lifelong friends Jaco, Ralph and Rusty meet up for a rare reunion, they learn what each did in the missing years. When Rusty brings out a precious stone, a fascinating tale ensues of one of the largest discoveries of precious stones and metal in war-torn Central Africa decades ago. Hungry for adventure and in need of finding a solution to their current financial predicament, the three friends set off to retrieve a huge cache of treasure from the jungle, where the rest of the scoop was hidden. Challenges and unexpected events ensue as the unlikely treasure-hunting trio embark on a modern treasure hunt that turns into the adventure of a lifetime.’
The Power of Seventy, of course refers to the ages of the trio and reading how these three conquer rivers, seas, land and air in a number of ‘vehicles’ is dazzling. The book leaves you wondering which actors will be portraying Jaco, Rusty and Ralph when this book is most certainly turned into a movie! Highly recommended reading. Grady Harp, January 17
Hungry for adventure and in need of finding a solution to their current financial predicament, the three friends set off to retrieve a huge cache of treasure from the jungle, where the rest of the scoop was hidden. Challenges and unexpected events ensue as the unlikely treasure-hunting trio embark on a modern treasure hunt that turns into the adventure of a lifetime.
This book is recommended to any person who enjoys adventure, action, risk, flying and maybe experiencing a bit of midlife crises or feel or think that they are too old. The pace is smooth; the story uncomplicated, the environment is mainly Central Africa, portrayed with accent on the river, and the heavy forest with danger and darkness. The characters are realistic and the story is a true page turner, superbly crafted with African roots.
This story shows the value of long-standing friendships, trust and reliability on each other as seen through mature eyes while being young-at-heart. Companionable and highly amusing dialogue with descriptions of ‘the plan’ giving the exciting background leading up to its execution. It is an experience with humour and understanding, mystery and goodwill.
• About the author
Gerard Colenbrander was born in Johannesburg 1942, the author spent many years travelling in his twenties. These travels took him around the world and included some vivid adventures. The first few chapters in the book, The Power of Seventy, relate to some of his first experiences whilst travelling in Africa, some of which were recorded in books and included in a movie. With an interest in aircraft, he and a friend decided to acquire crop duster licences from a flying school in the USA.
The idea was to travel through Europe, by ship to Canada then overland to the Nevada flying school. They reached Iceland where after 3 months plans were changed and Gerard ended back in Denmark, where he and a friend bought a Combi, converted it into a camper, and set off to drive to Australia. During this 4 month odyssey Gerard performed as a second in a western movie filmed on the Isle of Ibiza, and again as an extra on the set involving Hayley Mills and Trevor Howard at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore.
Subsequent to these travels, he was called back in South Africa to manage and develop a family owned sugar farm. This was successfully accomplished and following the sale of the farm, he embarked on a series of businesses. Now a widower with 3 sons in professional capacities, Gerard co-founded the now well known Highstakes Venue Conference and Activity Centre on a farm near Cato Ridge, Kwazulu Natal in South Africa. He is busy with another book.
• Background of the book
Rusty had lived with his diamond experience for dozens of years, and had never known how to handle it, or what to do about it. He was wondering now about the wisdom of tabling the stone.
This book reminds me of the films Africa Addio (1966) and Blood Diamonds (2006). Furthermore, we also encounter chronicles of the violence that occurred in much of the African continent during the 1960s. As many of the countries in Africa were transitioning from colonial rule to other forms of government, there were often violent political upheavals.
As background something about conflict or blood diamonds as the book centres around the quest for a hidden treasure of ‘stone’ buried in 1965 in the Congo.
Conflict diamonds are diamonds illegally traded to fund conflict in war-torn areas, particularly in central and western Africa. The United Nations (UN) defines conflict diamonds as "...diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council." These diamonds are sometimes referred to as "blood diamonds."
Conflict diamonds captured the world's attention during the extremely brutal conflict in Sierra Leone in the late 1990s. During that time, it was estimated that conflict diamonds represented approximately 4% of the world's diamond production. Illicit rough diamonds have also been used by rebels to fund conflicts in Angola, Liberia, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo (also known as Congo Brazzaville). Today, the flow of conflict diamonds has been reduced to considerably less than 1%.
While diamonds have been used to fund conflict, the problem is not the diamonds themselves but the rebels who exploit diamonds (along with other natural resources) to achieve their illicit goals. The vast majority of diamonds come from countries at peace. These countries have been able to invest the revenue from diamonds into the development of infrastructure, schools and hospitals for the good of the communities in which diamonds are found.
Diamonds are a unique resource, evoking beauty and eternal love. In recent years, pictures of maimed children have threatened to overwhelm these traditional positive images, when rebel groups in Africa use diamonds to finance their wars and unspeakable brutalities against civilian populations. Aroused by these conflicts, the international community mobilized to ensure people living in countries with abundant diamond deposits, receive the benefits of their patrimony.
By 2003 the international community through the participants in the Kimberley Process, bringing together industry, governments and civil society, mobilized governments to ban trade in rough diamonds funding African conflicts. Called the "Kimberley Process Certification Scheme" the ban ended those African conflicts financed by "blood" diamonds. Based on the respect for human dignity, the negotiators found common interests to win support for an international ban on trade in rough diamonds used to finance war and rebellion.
Through the worldwide implementation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, the international diamond industry are committed to bring the proceeds from the diamond trade to benefit the people of Sierra Leone, Angola and Liberia as well as all other diamond producing countries such as Botswana to help themselves support economic development of their countries."
The author created a solid story- line, strong vocabulary and securely grounded his novel on facts that were real in the sixties. Three old friends, Rusty, Ralph and Jaco go back a long way (50 years) . His account gives a true reflection of what was and he gives a touching description of fear, compassion and commitment of the three men, now in their seventies, to challenge the African environment “ to find a needle in a haystack.”
They had been warned to stay away from any offers, be it diamonds, prostitutes, ivory or whatever.
“We were on the trail of captive women and children, and had done a lot of travelling and searching. After one all-night ride and a lot of gunfire, we arrived at a village that intelligence had indicated housed a dozen or so victims.”
Other books documented life where there is political and territorial conflict in Africa, relating to superstition, cannibalism, dangers, machete wielding landscape, swamps and rescue operations. However, one of books are titled: ‘Daylight must come’, and that particular event was documented in that book, as is the atrocious treatment meted out to them.
“We slipped down the road, opened up all over the place, recovered the ammo, and fled back to base.....” when “Rusty and Ralph sat in deep contemplation, decided to have a nightcap, and proceeded to bed. Neither expected to sleep well. As Rusty switched the light off, Rusty wondered if it wasn’t a better idea to let sleeping dogs lie. Discontent, disorientated, dismayed and hacked off with his inability to find a path there, and could find no connection to anything anywhere in that God-forsaken part of the world.”
Who could have thought that that little adventure would develop such overtones. The first thing that came to mind was that they keep whatever the proceeds were, as far away from humans as possible, and direct them to conservation of our flora and fauna.
Will they make headway or is it a wild- goose chase?
An adventure story not to be missed.
10 January 2017
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