The Dream Deferred


Mixed Metaphors: Review of Mark Gevisser, Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred (Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball, 2007) in Journal of Southern African Studies 34:4 (2008) (PDF).

A hedgehog, a bat, a fish in the stream of history, a quick weasel, a lounge-lizard - in Mark Gevisser's long and fascinating biography of Thabo Mbeki, the author's fervent desire to understand comes up against his subject's legendary inscrutability, producing an almost unstoppable array of metaphors.  Quite apart from all the small, secretive animals, over the course of 800 pages we also see him described as a seducer (political and otherwise), a National Interferer, a polished gem (as opposed to the rough diamond Jacob Zuma), a Sussex Man, a Moscow Man, a modern-day Coriolanus, a black Englishman in tweeds and a perfectionist who in all his briefings, memos and position papers never so much as split an infinitive (the author has checked). (Continue reading...)