Born 6 January 1928 in Essex, England, the third child of a demobilised Belgian soldier and an English girl, Gilbert van Kerckhoven emigrated to South Africa with his family in 1936. A Johannesburg resident thereafter, Gil (as he is known to his many friends) became part of the South African community and culture, serving in the SA Defence Force as a Reserve Force member from 1946 to 1972, rising to the rank of Colonel. The period provided Gil with a broad education into the history and cultures of the many that make up what is now proudly called the "Rainbow Nation", these experiences formed questions about the Nation's history as indicated in the book which have been the driving force that culminated in "The Claw of Gold".
Found after being buried for a hundred years is a deed box containing dramatic first hand Zulu and settler interviews given to an investigative journalist. He witnesses a murder and flees to a hideaway where he links their statements into a story that splutters and sparks like a fuse leading to an explosive climax. Believing his executioners are close, he buries it. Historic facts add credibility.