Shakandazu Valley, a typical small rural town in the Ciskei, ruled over by the Inkosi from the grand mansion called The Residence, attention is diverted from the boredom of daily life and the pressure of the severe drought by various pursuits: movies, parties, socializing, drinking – and speculating about one of the Valley’s newest and most mysterious residents – Roger Hall.
The man had simply turned up one day three years before, bought the old bungalow at the end of Buku Road – paid for it in cash, and then kept to himself. The only times he seemed to venture into town was to buy copious amounts of alcohol from the liquor store every few weeks. Sometimes he briefly showed his face at happenings hosted by curious locals. He never spoke about his past.
Who was he? Where did he come from? How did he come to have so much money readily on hand? Why did he never want to talk about his past – not even to the Doctor, or Mr. Gaika, his closest friends in town?
Even the old Sazi, the influential seer of the Valley, called him ‘the Silent One‘ and said he had the look of a man who had seen blood. The local tribesmen saw him as an ill omen, a bringer of misfortune, drought and misery. Unrest began to stir. Why had he come to the Valley? What did he want there? Who was Roger Hall, and what did he have to hide?
Hard times were coming, the old Sazi foretold – the storm-clouds were gathering and the harsh years-long drought was about to break – but something worse was to follow, and the carcasses of beasts and men would fill the river side by side, and the fate of the town and all who lived there would be changed forever.
This is the third novel by Theo Engela, a South African author of the 1960’s and 70’s. Set in 1968, this story, never before published, was completed shortly before his death in 1985.