CityPress - - Voices & Careers -

usi Mav­im­bela’s col­lec­tion of po­ems writ­ten over 40 years, No Lul­laby for My Coun­try, of­fers a snap­shot of the poet’s life dur­ing the strug­gle for lib­er­a­tion in South Africa and the first two decades of democ­racy, but obliquely sug­gests that the po­ten­tial of our revo­lu­tion, along with oth­ers world­wide, has been al­lowed to fade.

The most re­peated line in the col­lec­tion is that “all rev­o­lu­tions are science ex­per­i­ments”.

Mav­im­bela worked as a po­lit­i­cal ad­viser to Thabo Mbeki when Mbeki served as deputy pres­i­dent, then served as di­rec­tor­gen­eral for na­tional in­tel­li­gence when Mbeki be­came pres­i­dent, fol­lowed by other public and pri­vate po­si­tions. He has been am­bas­sador to Zim­babwe since 2011.

It’s a shame there are no po­ems in here of­fer­ing his thoughts on our po­lit­i­cally trou­bled neigh­bour, but per­haps those would be best pub­lished when he has safely left the em­bassy gar­dens be­cause he can be cut­ting at times. He crit­i­cises Aids de­nial­ism in one poem (for his em­ploy­ment prospects, prob­a­bly bet­ter pub­lished now than when Mbeki still bore the coun­try’s crown) and in an­other, he eu­lo­gises Nel­son Man­dela us­ing an im­age of the out­stretched “arms” of the Union Build­ings, but still de­scribes South Africa as “a tor­tured habi­tat / as­phyx­i­ated by the paucity / and medi­ocrity of lead­er­ship”.

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