10 October 2010 by Chris Marais

The King Of The Diamond Divers

I met Alfie Wewege five centuries ago in the early 1980s, when he was a cook on board a diamond boat up in Port Nolloth and it was all rock & roll up on that crazy coastline.

Alfie lived on Divers’ Row, a tumbledown party street of wine, women and wild stories. Alfie. He once answered an ad in the Hitching Post (Farmer’s Weekly) and arranged to meet a girl from White River down at the Bitterfontein Station on the way to Hondeklip Bay. She turned out to be “twenty years older than her picture” but she came bearing two bottles of hi-octane moonshine liquor.

So they checked into the Bitterfontein Hotel for a crazy weekend and said their goodbyes on the station platform on the Monday morning. No harm done.

I’m always writing about Alfie and Port Nolloth.If you have a streak of something eccentric somewhere in your soul, one visit to the nefarious fleshpots of ‘Port Jolly’ will do it. It has a rebel nature, there’s the chance of a party, an exotic sea-tale or a story to make you laugh for the next three months.

The diving community of South Africa’s north-west coast is a gem in the rough. For four days every month you fling yourself around the seabed looking for diamonds. If you don’t find anything, it’s just another day at sea in your little Tuppie (short for Tupperware, the nickname of the diving boats out here) with your crew, your stew and your wine box. But when something nice and sparkly has made it to the surface, crank the music up boys, it’s going to be a long night…

Category: Culture & History

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