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capsule kimberley – Poems, Pictures & Prose by Saaleha Idrees Bamjee

capsule kimberley

Kimberley. Hot. Flat. Sparse.

You walk into the airport to walk out of the airport.

“Everything’s five minutes away,” I’m told.

This is a full-on work trip and time is not lenient, so I don’t get to see the big hole or the diamonds this unassuming dorpie is claim-famed to. I spend the day in a building with inactive airconditioning, compensated only by the friendly willingness of the people I have to interview, the real diamonds in the dust.

It looked like rain in Johannesburg when I left in the a.m, but here it’s 29 celcius, and the sky is a stubborn blue.

Duties discharged and it’s back to the corridor through which I catch the return flight. It’s 4.30pm and the curio shop is closed. The waiting area is too small to people-watch, and I don’t want to come across as a loon. It’s a small town, you know how people talk. I wittle away time on
Mxit and Opera mini (glory, glory).

It begins to drizzle as I step onto the little plane. My window seat is seated right next to the propellor, and I found myself slipping hypnotic as i watch it pick up momentum until the edge of the blades disappear. That’s the super power I want, being able to move so fast, no one sees me. The buzz from the propellors is so loud, I stop hearing it, and I’m looking over the landscape, an abstract carpet. This is farming country; a Mondrian of reds, greens, yellows and browns, circles and geometrics.

Flying through the clouds, I indulge in pareidolia, seeing monsters and gods in the cumulus. I’m looking at the spires of a castle on a mountain with a mermaid in the moat, when I realise it’s sunset, time to break fast. A mid-air iftaar; I’ve packed dates and open SAA’s offering – salmon and cream cheese roulade and some fishy-lookin snoek (obvious pun intended). The salmon’s edible and I smile at the packet of Tumbles. Mmmm…. chocolate. In-flight catering finally gets something right.

Touch down Jhb straight into a traffic freeze. Scattered accidents and breakdowns convert the 20 minute commute to an hour and a half belly-crawl.

If I were in Kimberely, I’d be five minutes away.

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I am a writer and photographer (look up my work on based in Johannesburg, South Africa. I have an MA in Creative Writing from the university currently known as Rhodes. My writing accolades include winning the 2014 Writivism Short Story Prize and the 2020 Ingrid Jonker Poetry Prize for my debut collection, Zikr.

9 thoughts on “capsule kimberley”

  1. was it a very small plane????

    i rem flying one of those 4 seaters once and i thought the thing was gonna come crashing down the way it was shaking away! 🙂

  2. dreamlife, QL – hope i get to gather some of those memories when i make a return trip.

    mj – 🙂

    hanna, Z, M, B – aw shucks thanks. i write to keep the rust away. Bilal, that’s the only drawback about travelling while fasting – cant really sample the local cuisine/franchised cholestorol.

  3. Slms Saal.

    My minds still reeling.. floating outside the airplan window over kimberly 😛 Awesome Post.



  4. On a road trip with my dad, I travelled through most of the Northern Cape, beautiful, quaint, peaceful.

    Mzanzi is gorgeous 😛

  5. We went to Kimberly in junior school, for a school trip. From what I remember, the Big Hole, big…but i wondered why there was water in it. And whether there were still diamonds there (under the water). Couldn’t get any clear shots of it because there’s a cage around it 🙁

    It would be quite an experience, though, if there was no cage and you dove straight in – as if it was a pool. (I suppose Bungee Jumping would give the same rush though)

    We went into a diamond mine, and through the security controls they have (seems quite intrusive – but hey, people swallow drugs to smuggle them – so diamonds are also swallowable…nice word, don’t u think? 😉

    There were some nice buildings too, which we visited. I have no idea (anymore) what they were, but I’ve got the pix somewhere at home.

    It was a History excursion; and looking back on it – aside from the History on display, its become a personal History as well…childhood memories 🙂

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