The Hottentot Room is a place in London, United Kingdom. It is a kind of a pub, but in the small hours, when the regulars have left the building, there are people who remain. They belong to the tribe of the Hottentot.
They are the exiles.
They are the people who have left South Africa by their own will.
They have left by the will of the white powers.
They come together to talk about that country far away. They talk about the resistance and the struggle and their attempts, no matter how futile, to get a change in power. Opposing powers meet in The Hottentot Room. White and black and all shades of man.
The name derives from a ceremonial stick that was given long time ago by a Dutch colonial servant to a Hottentot leader as a sign of allegiance. Now the stick graces the room and the regulars know what binds them together.
The lady who leads the tribe is not from South Africa. She is from Berlin. During the Second World War Frau Katie escaped Germany and ended up in London. Her husband was a high officer in Hitler’s army and he discovered that he wife was Jewish.
Christopher Hope (South Africa, 1944), who himself went into exile, uses her background to draw lines from Nazi Germany to Apartheid South Africa. Frau Katie belongs to a persecuted group, so do the people who flock to the Hotttentot Room.
In this book we meet all the different characters, with all their different reasons for being in London, and all their different reasons for wanting to go back, one way or the other, or to stay in London, with the good life. The South African Secret Service has planted one of their own in the Hottentot Room, (s)he is one of the regulars. This spy writes reports to his local handler. At times he makes up reports for lack of information and he needs to satisfy his handler. It reminded me of Graham Greene, who uses the same kind of spy in one of his books.
It is an entertaining book that shows all the different kinds of people who were affected by the apartheidregime in South Africa.
Christopher Hope – The Hottentot Room – 1986