On the road between Prieska and Upington is a small village of around 500 houses called Marydale. The people of Marydale all know each other very well and the local clinic and local primary school provide vital health and education to the citizens of this village.
Marydale cannot grow bigger because its water supplies cannot support a larger population. The Orange River is some 20 km to the East of the Marydale and the Boegoeberg Dam is about 60 Kilometers North-East.
Marydale is tough place to grow up in and life for its 2,000 or so citizens is one of poverty, made worse by its isolation and lack of water.
On one of my visits to Marydale, I was asked to comfort a man whose wife of 40 years had recently died. We chatted for a while and I felt the need to comfort the man with a hug. This old man sobbed on my chest and clung to me for minutes on end as he wailed at the pain of losing his best friend and the love of his life.
The man was in his sixties and had worked on a farm near Putsonderwater for most of his life but had been in the Cape Corps in his youth. Whenever I pass Marydale, I recall how strangely fitting it was that two men should be hugging each other in the dusty veld on the edge of Marydale.