How coloured are you?

2008-07-03 00:00

I am fairly dark-skinned with dark hair and have often been mistaken for being Portuguese, Greek, Italian and Israeli (but mostly Portuguese). I am actually half German and half Afrikaans.

So when I told friends at the office that I had once also been mistaken for being coloured, they all burst out laughing.

I was deeply and profoundly offended. They took pity on me and a few of my coloured co-workers began introducing me to the complex and involved life of the Cape coloured. (I was told if you want to be coloured, you have to be from Cape Town).

Apparently coloured people from Johannesburg don’t really qualify. Sorry.

The coloured lifestyle is an intricate and complicated puzzle with millions of confusing little pieces. It involves things like gatsbys, the Galaxy club, where you live, not only how you drink, but what you drink — and where.

You’ve got to like gatsbys, for instance. A gatsby, for the uninitiated, is a large roll with polony — I’m not calling it ham-and-deep-fried chips. If it doesn’t spill on to the ground when you try to eat it, it’s not a gatsby.

I like gatsbys, no problem. Okay, says a friend, but you have to drink brandy too. “With Klippies?” asks another colleague innocently, joining in the coloured education of Andrea. “No,” scream the coloured friends in horror (as all Afrikaners know, Klipdrift is the exclusive domain of the boerevolk). No, I’m informed, with Bertrams.

So far so good. I’m prepared to do all that. The problem starts when I hear that I wouldn’t be able to be a sturvey (that’s an uppity coloured), which I was gunning for of course. I don’t want to be a gangster from the badlands. But my colleague is firm on this. I couldn’t be a sturvey because apparently I “rafel uit too much”.

At this point I’m beginning to get despondent. Then I hear that, as a coloured, I wouldn’t be able to take my gatsby home and eat it with a knife and fork in front of the telly. No, it must be eaten on top of the bonnet of your car.

Also, this has to happen late at night when you come back from a night at the Galaxy club. This is another problem — I’m not a clubber. After all, I’m virtually in an old age home, being over 30.

Then it gets more complicated. I’m asked how big the mags on my car are, what kind of music I listen to and whether I’d be prepared to undergo an intensive language course.

Because, yes, for those of you who thought coloured people speak Afrikaans and English, think again. If you are really coloured you will know that anyone asking you “waar brand dit” is not referring to a fire in the neighbourhood, but is asking where “it’s happening” or where the party is.

I couldn’t help wondering if the Chinese community in South Africa are feeling the same sort of despair I was. Recently a

Pretoria court ruled that they should from now on be classified as coloured and be included in the definition of “black people” in laws including black economic empowerment legislation, which have been established to help previously disadvantaged groups.

Following this ground-breaking ruling, the labour minister made some strange comments, saying that he is now expecting Chinese people to behave more like black people (seeing as how they are now coloured people, I assume he meant behave like coloured people).

I’m not sure if he thought they should start eating gatsbys and going to the Galaxy club. He also said they should start assimilating the coloured culture by learning a local language, which put in my mind some Chinese people driving up to an Asian noodle bar in a car with huge, shiny mags and asking the fella behind the counter: “Hoezit my bra, ek’t lis vir ‘n dite”.*

* Translation: dite (pronounced like “date” with an i and refers to being hungry and wanting grub. Mostly though, it refers to a gatsby.

** Oh, before you send me the hate mail, I know not all coloured people drink Bertrams and eat gatsbys or go to the Galaxy. Only the cool ones.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.