Lyn Laubscher



April 2016

The Zama Zama (‘Try your luck’ in Zulu)


Zama gold
Image from: The Roodepoort Record article ‘Zama-Drama’

The ‘Birthplace of the Sun’ novel had to incorporate the story of the Zama Zama, as it is so central to its core theme: Gold.  

It highlights their plight and blight in the hopes of obtaining regulation over an industry gone rogue both for the sake of the miners, and the mining industry, but also for those who suffer because of its lawless environment.

The research not only shows the dangers illegal miners deal with daily but also the dangers they result in.


In February, this year, more than 100 legal miners had to be rescued from a mineshaft collapse at the Makonjwaan Gold Mine, and 3 people are still considered missing.  The disaster sparked an outcry from AMCU and was widely reported in the press.

Yet, an article by CNN  in 2014 told of how a rival illegal mining gang blocked the exit and trapped up to 200 illegal miners alive underground in just one incident.  Some were rescued but untold numbers perished, ‘causing barely a ripple of outrage in South Africa’, they reported.

Illegal mining is mostly done by undocumented foreigners who are desperate for work.  In a country that already has more than 50% of its own youth unemployed, foreigners are usually the last to find formal work and to be protected under the law.

Gold Mining Fatalities:

Mining has always been a dangerous occupation, and gold mining is especially so due to the great depths involved, but it is infinitely more so for the Zama Zama.

Lawless Zama Rules:

Dangers they face themselves, include:

The Illegal Trade of Gold

Whilst the miners take all the dangers, associated with their illegal activities, they get very little for their efforts – around R350 per gram of gold sold in 2014.

The gold traders rake in the millions…just one was reported to have made R17 million in just five months

It is estimated that around 10% of South Africa’s entire gold production is from illegal activities, said in 2013 to amount to a staggering R72 billion.  ‘The South African Chamber of Mines says that more than a hundred and fifty million dollars was lost to zama zamas between 1999 and 2004.’ CNN reported.

In Conclusion:

Of course this is not only a South African problem…but a world-wide one.  Wherever there is poverty and mineral riches there will also be exploitation, such as the Illegal miners in Tanzania using child labour, as young as five years of age.

The South African Civil Society Information Service noted in their article: ‘Illegal Gold Mining in South Africa: The Deafening Silence on the Lives and Deaths of the Zama Zama Miners‘ that at the 2013 congress…the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) realized that, ‘… alongside fighting for decent work for already formally and informally organised workers, entrepreneurial workers who live in the shadows of formality in precarious jobs need to be recognised and organised if a better future is to be realised for all.’

Whilst it is recognized that this is a very convoluted issue with highly irregular and fractured players, which would make an easy fix difficult under any stretch of the imagination, it is hoped that the focus will spur a desire for some beginning to its resolution.

‘Birthplace of the Sun’ gives a very simplistic answer to this very complex problem – a hope almost…to spur action…to get it resolved for the sake of all involved.

Am I being naive to think that with the will anything can be resolved?


The Power of Gold

Birthplace half image final

The novel ‘Birthplace of the sun’ is as interwoven in gold, as is the land upon which it is located.

Heroin, Angela Bosch, must find: a headpiece of gold, with its peridot stone drop, and a golden sphere if she is to escape the hate-filled, ghostly birth mothers who seek her destruction.  The fact that it is made of gold is highly significant and is explored in this piece.

Mpumalanga Province

Remember my mentioning, in An incredible location, that the novel was based in and around the Adams Calendar (Inzalo Y’langa), in Mpumalanga?

Well, 50km from the Calendar is the town of Barberton, whose mountains are amongst the oldest in the world, dating back 3.5 billion years. Their volcanic rocks, know as the Barberton Greenstone Belt, hold the first forms of life on earth – a bacterial micro fossil (Archaeosphaeroides barbertonensis).

It is also a few hundred kilometers from the ‘Cradle of humankind’, where new ancient human skeletons are constantly being discovered.  The latest of which is the discovery, classified by Dr Lee Berger in 2013, of the mystifying Homo Naledi.

This made the area sufficiently ancient and the perfect location for the creation of the first humans of earth, especially as it tied in with the local legend that Birthplace of the sun – (is) where humanity was created by the gods.


But why use gold as a central core?

Well, besides the fact that the area is literally littered with old mine shaft markers…

Mine shaft
Old mine shaft a few meters from Adam’s Calendar

Gold also has many spiritual, energetic and inherent qualities, which tied perfectly into the story.

  • Gold’s vibration is connected with the sun and legend states that gold is ruled by the sun.
    • Making it perfect for ‘the Birthplace of the Sun’, which is located in ‘The place where the sun rises’ (the province of Mpumalanga).
  • Considered the bringer of wealth, happiness and comfort, as well as being a mineral of spirituality, magic and understanding.  It actually generates and transforms negative energy, it prevents spiritual corrosion, and it adds to the realm of complete understanding as it clears away negativity.  It emits an energy which prompts one to allow beauty to come forth from ones inner core.  Used in purification and balancing the heart chakra, it also opens the third eye and crown chakra’s.
    • Angela had to connect to God in order to remember her ancient past, and
    • She also needed to ward off the evil ghosts of the other Birth Mother of Earth, with what some may call magic.
  • Gold is the colour of wisdom
    • Angela needed the wisdom of the gold to fairly and justly determine who was to be healed, and
    • The golden sphere, she had to find and deliver, was to impart wisdom to the Presidency of the country.
  • It is said to assist one in tuning-in to nature and its healing forces, and has been called ‘the master healer’.
    • Angela had always been strongly connected to nature, and
    • She would use that to heal a nation and continent.
  • It eases those overburdened by responsibility, depression, inferiority.  It calms anger, even as it alleviates stress and amplifies positive feelings.
    • She had to stop the birth mothers and save the country, whilst healing the planet, and if she did not succeed she’d not find her Great Love.  It was a frightfully daunting task for one who did not know what was to be done to achieve it, at first, and she naturally had doubts as to her ability to succeed.
    • Angela would use it to survive and reenergize after months of lack of sleep from the nightly hauntings of the birthmothers.
    • It helped her accept that she had great power and influence, in order to overcome her natural feelings of insecurity given the monumental task she had to perform.
    • It aided her in coming into her true power and being comfortable with who she was changing into.
  • It is also a thought amplification aid with projective qualities onto other minerals and crystals, especially topaz, rubies, orange zircon and peridot.  Setting these in gold increases and enhances their power turning them into powerful amulets.
    • As her headpiece was partnered with Peridot, she’d use its thought amplification for protection from the Birth Mothers who sought to kill her and her guardians.
    • She’d also use it to save the life of her beloved.
  • Favoured in wedding bands, it is associated with love and faithfulness.
    • This aspect was the perfect fit for her journey to her Great Love.

Interesting facts about gold:

Availability of gold

Gold was discovered in copper ores in the earths crust, around 3 000BC and around 75 000 tons of gold had been extracted up to 2002.  Gold is being depleted and it now takes a lot more energy to extract the smaller quantities available:

  • Late 1800’s one could extract 25-30 grams of gold per ton
  • In 2012 we were down to just 1.22 grams of gold per ton
  • Just between 2005 and 2012 gold production dropped by 27%
  • And between 2011 and 2012 it dropped by 6% alone.


Found in South Africa, Russia, Australia and the USA.


Hardness 2.5-3.

Its atomic structure has six energy levels: 2, 8, 18, 32, 18, 1.  Its atomic number is 79, having 79 protons and 118 neutrons, and it has a melting point of 1064.43 degrees Celsius.

It is considered a transition metal with a cubic crystalline structure.

Its metallic bonds form non-directionally.  It is different from silver and gets its colour from its strong bond of positivity charged metal atoms in fixed positions surrounded by delocalized / scattered electrons. Free electrons means that they can move in the presence of an electric field, thus permitting energy bands to overlap.


Silver, gold and copper have similar electron configurations.  The different colours are the result of gold and copper having low reflectivity at short wavelengths, so that the red and yellow are preferentially reflected, whilst silver has a good reflectivity that does not vary with wavelengths and so its colour is close to white.

Gold mixed with copper becomes red-gold, if it is dissolved with silver it becomes green-gold, if it is blended with palladium and silver it becomes white-gold, and if it is added to indium or gallium it becomes blue-gold.  Gold can also be coloured using surface oxide layers by adding base metals to create blue, brown and even black-gold.

Power generation using Gold

The UC Santa Barbara’s Department of chemistry, chemical engineering and materials has used gold in the generation of renewable power:

  • A ‘forest’ of gold nano rods were capped with a crystalline layer of titanium dioxide decorated with platinum nano particles set in water and a cobalt-based oxidation catalyst before being deposited onto the lower portion of a solar array.
  • During the reaction, the water bonds (hydrogen ions) to split causing holes which generate electricity.
  • Important to note is that these nano rods were not subject to photo corrosion like current technologies, and will thus outlast their current counterparts.

Colouring Glass

Nanoparticles can also colour glass…colloidal silver creates yellow, whilst gold produces a purple-red and silver gives glass a pink (modernly called nano shells).  These concentrations can be thinned down to produce other colours for example golds purple colour will become greens and blues as the coating shell is thinned because the diameter of gold nano particles determines wavelengths absorbed and resultant colour.

References not already linked to in the text:

Book: ‘Healing crystals and gemstones’ by Dr Flora Peschek-Bohmer and Gisela Schreiber


Heroic Protector

An heroic protector
Venetian guardian

Heroic Protector

“Jacques had taken up martial arts to protect himself and his mother.  Sadly, as Hannalie recounted, she never permitted him to use it again after that first time.  Though her husband had been keen on dishing out his discipline, he had been unable to deal with the pain himself.  He’d whimpered about for days with the broken nose his son had inflicted, whilst saving his mother from another drunken beating.  Hannalie had loved the man so much that she could not get it over her heart to permit her son to stop and possibly hurt him again.  Jacques could not bear to stand by and watch her suffer needlessly, and so, respecting her wishes, he’d forced himself to leave.”

Angela may not have realized it but she needed a protector to help her battle: corrupt politicians and their lackeys; evil-ghostly Birth Mothers who sought her destruction; her own internal doubts; and even her very own sanity.  She, like most of us, could not do it alone no matter how hard she tried to solely rely on her own fierce independence and inner strength.  She needed a heroic protector – someone, who would be willing to take on her fight to protect her.  He needed the chance, which his past had not afforded him, to truly protect a woman he loved.  The fact that his mother had been unwilling to accept his protection had been very hard for him to accept, understand and survive.  But, it had made him mentally stronger and more than willing to defend Angela against all that sought to destroy her.  His past made him a natural protector of women and he was perfect to help her face all her demons.

But, besides needing a partner who would protect her, she also needed someone who was willing to have those difficult conversations and he proved he could go there.

What is a love anyway?

“‘What is a great love anyway and why should that be so different from what we have now or may have in future?  I don’t even know what love really is, for I have never had a great role model in that department.  If it is self-martyrdom at the expense of oneself, like my mother for my father, then I don’t want it.  If it is cruelly beating or shouting at the one you supposedly love to make them too afraid to leave you, like my father, then I don’t want it either

I want to learn everything there is to know about you, so that I can do everything in my power to make you happy.  I want to find out what makes your heart beat with excitement and what takes your breath away, as I adore you.  I want to protect you and what we have, for it makes me want to stand taller just because you are at my side…I want to hold deep discussions about life and everyday ones about the smaller things, for I greatly respect your opinion.  I want to make everything all right and support you to fly as high as you can in this life.  I want you and I want to be with you.’”

As ‘Birthplace of the sun’ has romance at its heart, it begged the question: ‘What is love and how should it be expressed?’

Exploring the concept further with reference to Jacques’ parents, Frankie and his Selloane, and, of course Jacques and Angela, it was clearly in the eye of the beholder.  Love means different things to different people and every couple should explore this for themselves and its implication for their relationship.

The extract above is part of a difficult conversation between Jacques and Angela in which they come to their own unique view, as a couple, on what love is not, what it ought to be and what it could be.  Everyone has their own view on love and on how it should be expressed, which is why it is a vital addition to any list of difficult conversations that couples need to explore together.

Difficult conversations

‘Birthplace of the sun’ leads couples in having  open, honest explorations of difficult conversations on important topics for better, stronger relationships.

Having difficult conversations sets the foundation for real communication and for a real relationship.  Too many of us reach the decision cross roads and take the easy route to stick to the superficial chats to keep the peace and not rock the boat.  The thing is that, in so doing we rob ourselves of discovering more about ourselves, and our partners.  We also rob ourselves both of the opportunity of having a truly meaningful relationship and of forcing ourselves to find out what it is that is truly bothering us.  It becomes easier to just leave and move on to the next relationship and follow the same pattern rather than actually putting in the work.  It becomes a convenient excuse to say, ‘Oh, we just did not work out.’  When, we should actually have said, ‘It was just too hard to figure out a way to make us work out.’

Having one honest conversation leads to trust in the future of that relationship but only if both parties are serious, open, transparent and wisely see it as the opportunity it truly is.  It is an opportunity to create a stronger, lasting relationship.   If you are not willing to have the difficult conversations with the person you are with then you should be urged to reevaluate your relationship and where it is going.

If you are willing to find a solution together then you will neither talk down to, nor over nor try to cleverly outwit the other person.  You will instead really listen to understand with compassion and caring – and not just to respond.  You’ll see its importance to the other person and that’ll make it important to you too.  You’ll make the decision to work at your relationship because it is important to you.

How can one honest conversation lead to trust in the future?

To answer that, I’ll have to dig into your imagination – if you’ll forgive the intrusion.

Imagine you’re a woman (men may if you wish invert the sexes in this analogy) and you’re with an amazing man who’s perfect for you – on paper, at least.  He’s handsome, witty, intelligent, sexy, confident, successful, loving and patient.  But, he simply cannot bring himself to have a difficult, serious conversation and will in fact go to inordinate lengths to avoid it.

Will this not eventually lead you to naturally start to lose faith in your future together because he is unwilling to share anything real with you?  Will you not begin to doubt your and your relationships importance to him because he’ll not go to that place within himself, or trust you enough to open up?  He resists and keeps the real him at a distance and the harder you try to get in, the higher he builds the wall to protect himself.  Finally, your relationship becomes stilted and no longer a beautiful thing.

The promise of a future together is lost because you did not have that one honest conversation.  If he’d had the courage to go there once, you’d have trusted in each other to be able to overcome anything and your future would have been secured from that apparently small thing onwards.  But it cannot be done alone…two must tango in every relationship…and it takes hard work.

How is just talking, hard work?

It is hard work because it involves taking a brave stand in being open to changing what you think, feel and even how you act.  It can be painful when you realize that you are not always right and that you have been wronging someone you care for.

It is frightening to lay your innermost fears out on the table, exposed to the light of scrutiny and logic – some may even fear having their own fears used against them but if you don’t take that chance your relationship is doomed anyway.  It can be even more frightening to go inside yourself to find out what your fears really are and to be willing to delve into that darkest of places within yourself.  That place you normally do not visit because it is just too scary.

It takes wisdom and compassion to not laugh at or belittle others fears because you just don’t see them as being an issue at all.  It takes respect to go there and respect to deal with it once it is all out in the open, and the giving of this respect results in a lasting trust and faith in one’s partner.  This beautiful thing will reward your leap of faith with untold treasures.

Some of the difficult conversations every couple should have:


  • The new role of women in relationships
  • Who will be responsible for what, where, when & how
  • What areas of daily life and responsibility requires joint agreement
  • Financial expense responsibilities (individually and jointly)
  • Support required from partner in specific areas
  • Pets and children – to have them / not, how they are to be cared for and by whom, etc.


  • What I require to feel loved, secure and needed
  • What is required from a partner, in case of a break up or death


  • Communication style, frequency, location (where is it best to broad a difficult subject – in restaurant / at home), etc.
  • What does love mean to you and how would you like it expressed and how would you like to express it
  • Living arrangements and environment
  • Holiday locations and frequency
  • Sexual and physical contact needs
  • Other likes and dislikes


  • Hobbies
  • Sport
  • Friends, etc.


  • Children – existing and prospective:
    • Education, expenses, discipline & rules of engagement, care if parents pass
  • Future goals, dreams and support required to get there
  • Where do you want to live
  • Retirement hopes and needs


  • What that may be and how best to handle them
  • Support required from partner


  • Who will pay for what when going out together
  • How often with they be going out as a couple and how much will be alone time with friends.

Please add any other important issues that couples may need to address, in the comments below, and thank you for your contribution.

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