King of the Beach

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Words and image by Roger Gaisford

The story of his royal highness, the King of the Beach who became a somebody

Sodwana Bay is that wonderful spot on the coast of Maputaland which offers some of the best game fishing and scuba diving anywhere. Visitors flock there during the Christmas and Easter holidays, providing wonderful entertainment to anyone prepared to take the time to watch. Much of this is provided by posers, dominant male types known by the Zulus as buka mina, meaning, “look me”. So it was with a young man from Pretoria North, as it was then known, who habitually spent Christmas at Sodwana Bay. He was a buka mina deluxe, who thought he knew everything there was to know about the beach and driving on it. In his little CJ2A Jeep, he claimed to be King of the Beach.

This was in the mid-1970s or thereabouts, when there were few constraints on tearing about the beach or seeing how high up a dune one could get one’s vehicle. The self-anointed King of the Beach was a largish fellow who
habitually wore the remnants of a bowler hat resting on his ears. His Jeep was painted blue, a “Time to Shine” metallic. The Jeep was still pushed along by its legendary little 2.2-litre “Go Devil” side-valve engine. A sedate machine that could, however, pull like a donkey. This, of course, was not good enough for someone who claimed so high a title.

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