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”.