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 a Blog about sport (unless you view politics as a kind of robust and sometimes dirty sport), but South Africa only hosts the Soccer World Cup once in a lifetime, so in the spirit of the moment, I thought I would post something fun about this momentous event in our nations history. So, here is the first part of an occasional guide for locals and for foreign visitors to help them come to grips with the World Cup and with the intricacies of our country.
The Vuvuzela: A cheap plastic trumpet that makes an ungodly noise and can be blown at any occasion. Also called South Africa’s secret weapon in the tournament. Not to be confused with Julius Malema (see below) as the Vuvuzela probably scored higher marks in woodwork.
Do say: I am a Mexican player, please blow in my ear. Don’t say: Hope this was not made by child labour in China.
Jacob Zuma: The President of South Africa when Fifa is not in town, this affable and very musical politician has a complicated family life that includes several wives and a brood of children that could form its own soccer team. He loves discussing things, but really hates making any kind of decision. When asked a question he will chuckle and say: “Well, why are you asking me that, I am only the President?” Not to be confused with Sepp Blatter who is the President for the next month.
Do say: I believe the ANC will rule until Jesus returns to earth or Schabir Shaik goes back to prison. Don’t say: Whatever happened to that R500 000 from the arms company your friend Schabir scored for you under the table?
Julius Malema: The man white South Africans love to hate, this youngster obtained a G for Woodwork in High School but is nevertheless a sharp businessman who has invented a whole new way of making money: he pretends to build roads and bridges and most South Africans pretend we like him while giving him lots of our tax money so that he would not sing “Kill the Boer”.
Do say: What a lovely revolutionary and militant watch you are wearing. Don’t say: Can you help my son with his woodwork project – it will be good exercise and help you with your weight problem?
Greenpoint stadium: A magnificent football venue which was supposed to be built in Athlone until Sepp Blatter realized that it would look better if it was built in the rich suburb against the backdrop of table mountain, far away from Cape Town’s poor. Everybody was against the building of the stadium in Greenpoint. Now everybody believes it was a brilliant idea.
Do say: It looks like a traditional Xhosa woman’s hat. Don’t say: How many toilets could you have built with the money spent on the stadium?
Helen Zille: The leader of the official opposition in South Africa, this feisty and principled journalists turned politician is an avid fan of conspiracy theories involving the ANC. No one does hurt and beleaguered the way she can. Just a pity her eyebrows can’t shoot up in alarm anymore, apparently because of a botched operation which was intended to make her look less white.
Do say: By building the stadium in Greenpoint you have brought Cape Town together and shown a principled commitment to the poor and to the Constitution. Don’t say: Do you know where I can have some Botox done (and by the way, where can I find a toilet?)
SABC: The official mouthpiece of the Soccer World Cup (and the ANC government) the South African Broadcasting Corporation pretends to be a public broadcaster by ensuring that its own management drama’s provide South Africans with a never ending soap opera worthy of “Days of our Lives”. They love reporting on events of world importance – like a Cabinet Minister opening the annual Biltong festival in Koekenaap – but are less succesful at paying their bills and reporting even-handedly about politics.
Do say: Feel it, it is here! Don’t say: When am I getting paid? The Minister called and you are in big trouble.BACK TO TOP