The town of Tsumeb in northern Namibia owes it's existence to a spectacular ore body which led to the establishment of a mine in 1905.
The De Wet Shaft headgear, shown in the image above, is situated on the main road and dominates the town's landscape.
Above is the 'Bank', or shaft entrance. For twelve years this is where I descended into the depths every day.
Sadly, the ore body has been depleted and the mine has been closed since the late 1990s.
The sign board at the shaft entrance showing the different communication signals used by the 'Banksman' and the 'Ontsetter' (the person in charge of the cage which transported men and materials).
Communications were by means of an electric buzzer system, (using a special key), installed on the bank and at each level where the cage stopped.
There was even an unlisted signal to express the sentiment 'F-you'.
One of the 'Gangs' who worked in a specific working place or 'Stope'. At times I was required to supervise three or four gangs at the same time.
The guy with yellow hard hat in the pic above was named Daniel.
Daniel and I were alone in particularly dangerous working place where razor sharp rocks were hanging in the roof above us - we were installing wooden supports when some rocks came down, narrowly missing my back but felling Daniel who was behind me.
While he was lying stunned on the ground another rock fell and amputated the two middle fingers on his right hand.
At times the environmental working conditions were really horrific, the ground was dangerous, ventilation was poor and the heat energy-sapping. In this pic you can see miners hand-lashing high-grade ore into a scraper gully - sometimes this ore was solid metal and very heavy.
Whenever anyone complains to me how hard they work I always think back to these guys - I've never seen anyone work as hard as they did.
The holes would be charged with explosives and detonated at the end of the shift.
I only took my camera underground once and today I could kick myself - there are very few pictures around of the workings of this historical mine.
Me with one of the crews in 1979 - it was customary to throw a Christmas party every year at my home, where the guys would arrive in their finest gear and we'd have a barbecue and a few - or more than a few - drinks.
Members of my crews were mostly Owambo-speaking and they loved to give nicknames - I had two: 'Ondudu' (Witchdoctor) and 'Gambishi' (The Cat).
Even today, so many years later, I'll be walking in some town in Namibia and hear the call "Hey Ondudu!" - and turn around to find an old familiar face smiling at me ...
Later I moved into Training and one of my duties was to escort visitors on tours. Here I am in 1995 about to take some visitors underground.
On one occasion I was preparing to take a group from one of the 'sexually-liberated' Nordic countries down into the mine.
In the group was a young lady who spoke no English and I indicated that she should wait while I found a suitable place for her to change into overalls - when I returned she had disappeared - I found her blithely changing in the miners' change house, with a group of shocked men desperately trying to conceal their nakedness ...
... I had a bit of explaining to do afterwards ...
Further reading: Tsumeb Mine - The Most Diverse Ore Body Ever Mined