This is a book of desire denied, of what the pain of that impotence drives people to do, and how it makes them unwilling contortionists and even co-conspirators in their oppression. From ‘The Transformation of Harry’: “And there we all were; in an uncertain country, ourselves uncertain. A land with a sly heart; and ourselves ready to be deceived.” For if colonialism was any one thing it was denial: denial of land, denial of African culture, denial of any form of psychic nourishment—including hope—denial of black existence itself. And neocolonialism is the denial that any of that is still happening. First published in 1978, The House of Hunger speaks, or rather shouts, forward from its own time to 2017. Perhaps the most painful parts of the book to read are those that show how little has changed in thirty-nine years. For if colonialism was any one thing it was denial: denial of land, denial of African culture, denial of any form of psychic nourishment—including hope—denial of black existence itself. And neocolonialism is the denial that any of that is still happening.
This is not the first time since Justice Langa’s appointment as Chief Justice that he has not been part of the majority.
During the nine years that Arthur Chaskalson was Chief Justice he hardly ever was on the losing side of a case. Court watchers said that his strong personality and his ability to build consensus helped him to carve out a majority for his position in most cases. He was therefore the leader of the court in every possible way.
Chief Justice Langa is a less forceful personality than Justice Chaskalson and it does not seem as if he has stamped his authority on the court in the same way as his predecessor. Maybe that is a good thing because we will get more debate between judges?
I am intrigued by the question of whether Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke is not emerging as the kingpin of the post-Chaskalson Court. He does have a very strong personality and is an effective manager. I think his opinions will become more important as the Court changes in the next three years.BACK TO TOP