By 1999, I had achieved a successful Wall Street career in the mortgage-backed securities (MBS) market. But I wanted a break. So I went to South Africa, a move I had been intending to make for years. I went in part to write, to conduct academic research, and to pursue paramilitary training. And, to be perfectly honest, to look for adventure. South Africa was then, as it is now, undergoing a process of black-on-white crime and ethnic cleansing, and I thought I could play a part in addressing it. Shortly before I arrived in the country, a white Namibian female student at the University of Pretoria had been abducted and raped by a dozen or so local blacks. It was horrific events such as this that, to me, called out for a direct response.
I settled in Pretoria. Through some contacts in Afrikaner political circles, I rented a large villa in Hatfield, a Pretoria suburb. I traded in my Brooks Brothers shirts, J.Press suits, and Alfred Sargent brogues for khaki bush shirts, fatigues, moleskin jeans, and Veldschoen. I grew my hair long and stopped shaving. I tanned and my hair became blonder in the African sun. I took Afrikaans lessons from pretty blonde girls at the University of Pretoria, where I also attended seminars at the Institute for Strategic Studies.
A short walk away was McGinty's, a bar popular with local residents and University of Pretoria students. There I got to know the bartender, a short, muscular white guy with a thin moustache. He had once worked in the mines, he told me, where he had led a mine gang. He said his blacks were lazy workers with a mañana attitude and constantly complained about racism. Tending bar was a better job. One afternoon, as a group of rowdy students was making noise and irritating customers at the bar, I saw him calmly walk up to the biggest, tallest student in the group and lay him out flat on the ground with a right hook to the nose. Blood and broken glass were scattered about the floor. I was impressed.
At McGinty's I met a short, well-built, shaven-headed Irishman in a short-sleeved shirt and brown boots. He said he was an ex-soldier. He looked it. He had moved to South Africa as a young boy in the mid-1980s with his parents, who had wanted to escape the Irish troubles. They must have realised later, I thought to myself, that things were much worse in South Africa. He had served in an artillery unit in the SADF and had seen fighting in the border war in Namibia and Angola. He sounded bitter. He asked me what tourist sites I had visited and I told him most of them. He said I should visit some of the farms east of the city. "Right-wingers are storing nuclear weapons in underground silos on those farms," he told me.