becoming a self in history, becoming a self in my street


Jerome was a big hearted little boy who wanted to be a soldier. He bought models of warships and fighter planes with his pocket money. He devoured library books on the art of survival and hero worshipped those who had shown courage in battle. He valued the friendship, camaraderie and discipline that he saw as belonging to the life of a soldier and he fought and overcame many obstacles, external and internal, in order to become a soldier and achieve this life for himself.


In July 1998 Jerome took a few days leave from his unit, to visit his family home. During this time he went through his belongings, organizing them and throwing things away. He also chose some words for his epitaph and said, “The only way I want to die, is in action.” He did not know this wish would be fulfilled so soon.


Jerome was killed in action on 22nd of September in Lesotho, as part of a South African ‘peace keeping’ mission. He was given a hero’s burial. The army, the navy and the air force saluted him. His family and many friends mourn him still.


Those who did not know him said:  

“Such a futile war.”     

Yes it was, but not for Jerome.

“Such a tragedy, a young life cut short, such a waste.”  

But not for Jerome.


Jerome lived his life to the full. Through determination and perseverance he became the self he fought and died for.  


He died in action, high in the mountains beside the water of a large dam and is buried at the foot of a hill overlooking the sea. The words he chose to be inscribed upon his grave stone were taken from the film Platoon.


“I think now, looking back, we did not fight the enemy, we fought ourselves, and the enemy was within us. The war is over for me now, but it will always be there, for the rest of my days. And we must try with what’s left of our lives to build a goodness that will outlast us.”