Book Review – Always Another Country

Always Another Country: A Memoir of Exile and Home by Sisonke Msimang (Jonathan Ball Publishers) ISBN: 9781868428489

‘This book is personal and political — it is about how I was made by the liberation struggle and how I was broken by its protagonists and how, like all of us trying to find our way in South Africa, I am piecing myself back together so that never again will I feel I need a hero.’

Always Another Country will resonate with many South Africans. Beautifully written, intimate, and vibrant, the memoir will make you feel less alone in your grief for your country. Sisonke Msimang writes about her life in exile with her father, Mavuso Msimang, her Swazi-born mother, and her siblings.

Filled with love, hope, uncertainty, and dreams, Msimang takes us on a journey through Zambia, Kenya, Canada, the USA, to South Africa in the 1990s. The book is a tribute to her parents whose love for each other and their family glows through the pages. It is also a love story about South Africa – the dream that it was, the ideal that it represented for so many people, and the rude awakening when the liberators turned into the antagonists in the story.

South Africans are still struggling to find an identity, and many of us are no different to Sisonke Msimang. We may not all have lived in other countries, but we have been exiled from each other in our own country. Separated by colour and sorted by language, the Apartheid government saw to that. The ruinous Zuma-ANC years have stunted – if not destroyed – the birth of a new country.

Always Another Country shows us that we need to give up our fantasies of heroes liberating us, and that we need to become our own heroes.

Amanda Patterson

Buy the book here: Always Another Country: A Memoir of Exile and Home

Always Another Country by Sisonke Msimang (Jonathan Ball Publishers) ISBN 9781868428489

After reading this memoir I longed for more.

The book begins in 1962 when a young man joins an illegal army and leaves South Africa. After ten years he is in Lusaka as a soldier. He meets a Swazi woman who later becomes his wife. They are Sisonke Msimang’s parents.

The family of three girls live in Zambia where the ANC headquarters were situated. They move to Kenya and then Canada. Sisonke goes to college in USA.

In 1990 she returns to South Africa. She anticipates she will finally be free. Black people will now have a chance at equality, but it is not quite as she imagined. She is disillusioned to say the least. She never felt she belonged in exile and now she longs to feel at home in South Africa. This proves to be complicated and difficult.

Sisonke is so open and honest with her feelings of her deep love for South Africa and also her personal relationships. She is a self-confessed idealist who deeply desires to fulfil her dream of freedom. She goes through a tough time with this. Fortunately, she has the support and love of her husband and family to sustain her.

Dawn Blankfield

Buy the book here: Always Another Country: A Memoir of Exile and Home