n English in Africa - The other job

Volume 40, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0376-8902



Off the coast of Natal, the warm Agulhas Current streams south. Its central core wavers like a shimmy dancer in slow motion between 20 and 50 km offshore. On its journey towards the Cape it spins off gyres 10 to 20 km across which circle dreamily clockwise making the prevailing longshore currents north-going, although the gyres themselves are also gyrating south. The Indian Ocean on this coast is notorious: it oscillates between bland twinkling affability and violently destructive turbulence - fairly reflecting, it seems, the national character of the adjacent landlubbers. The gales veer from north-east to south, the winds bringing rain are usually south-westerly. A phenomenon referred to by some local oceanographers and sailors as the rogue or killer wave is not uncommon along the 100 fathom line: it is a wave attaining, some say, twenty or more metres in height, heading north, with attendant before and after troughs, and has broken or buried not a few ships. The whole system is dynamic to say the least, and is treated with respect by sober mariners. Conrad must have encountered one of our storms in his .

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