Rain Like Diamonds

Africa is not a continent, but thump, thump, thump that travels through your bones.

And it’s the gold in your veins and the djembe drums in your ears and the rain like diamonds on your soul.

To be South African is to overcome. It’s always been this way. They said there would be war when apartheid ended. Then they said AIDS would hobble us

and then rape

and then state capture

and then drought.


Ever since we became a democracy, we’ve been making miraculous escapes because Africa is not a continent, but a spirit of revolution.  Scott-Heron was right: that revolution has not been televised. It has happened in these streets where we dance and in these queues where we wait for water and in these city centres were the dregs of the AIDS crisis scuttle away.

This year is like any year because we are South African, and that means we overcome. Just a few weeks ago, we were set to run out of water by early April, but in this country, there is a thump, thump, thump that travels through our bones. Big brands donated bottles and access to their springs. NGOs drove the water in. Farmers sent millions of litres into our supply. The population began yet another revolution. First, they pushed Day Zero, the day we are set to run out of water, forward to May. Then they pushed it further to June: mid-winter when the rain will begin.

We are not safe, just as we weren’t all the other times we overcame. We have declared a national disaster, but each day, hundreds of people queue for their rations instead of taking what is still easily acquired by turning on a tap.

Last night, in the Cape of Storms that rarely ever sees lightening or thunder, and certainly not rain in the middle of summer, the sky shattered. The sky lit up. It rained.

Rain like diamonds.

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