Firstly, I would like state categorically that I believe all people have the right to their opinions and people should respect that. And because I do not agree with some or all of your views, it does not retract from me supporting your right to express them freely and openly. Also, I am not arrogant enough to believe that I speak for my entire race group, so please don’t construe parts where I use ‘we’ as an attempt to do so. I am speaking on behalf of myself and those who may share my views. Anywho…
Unable to sleep last night, I came across an article by @AnnekeScheepers titled Are all coloureds welcome, or only some?
The topic of the article dealt with the formation of a political party called the First Nation Liberation Alliance. Although Anneke (please forgive the familiarity) does make many valid points that I actually agree with, I think she has ignored the fundamental truth. As Coloured people, we do believe that under the Apartheid Government we were not white enough, and now under the ANC government we are not black enough. In a previous article I wrote, I produced some stats which I would like to use to re-enforce my point here. Based on the 2013 population census, our population is made up of the following demographics: 79.8% Black, 9% Coloured, 8.7% White and 2.5% Indian/Asian. In other words, the Coloured population is the second highest in South Africa. However, if you look at the results of research done by FIN24 on the racial breakdown of Top Executive Leaders in South Africa in 2013: 71.4% White, 22.1% Black, 4.1% Indian/Asian and only 2.4% Coloured. In other words, the second highest race group has the lowest number of people in Executive roles in South African business. Even more alarming, is if you compare these numbers to a similar study done in 2001 of Top Executive Leaders: 78.8% White, 16.9% Black, 2.2% Indian and only 2.1% Coloured.
This means the second smallest race group still grossly dominates the Top Leadership positions, but the Black population and the Indian population has made significant progress, whereas Coloured People in top positions have remained stagnant.
I personally feel that there is unfair discrimination against the Coloured population in South Africa. We do need a voice, and a loud one. However, and this is where I agree with Anneke, supporting a political party that is exclusively targeting a certain race group is not the right way to go. This will cause more division and harm the interests of the Coloured people, than address our needs. I believe (and please remember, that this is my personal view) that we don’t need a political intervention but a social intervention. Coloured people need to change the way we think and how we interact with each other.
The first thing is we need an identity. We need not to be embarrassed or ashamed of the word Coloured. It is not a dirty word. There is no need to put it in inverted commas. But based on the response to Anneke original article, there are those who believe there is no such thing as Coloured and that those who identify as Coloured are ashamed of our black heritage. I believe this where the misunderstanding occurs from people who are on the outside looking in. We are not ashamed of our black heritage. But it is only a small part of us and not who we are as a whole. I will use myself as an example. I have as many as seventeen different nationalities in my bloodline. For example, my paternal grandmother is 100% German, hence my name. She married a Mauritian man whose mother was half Indian and half French and whose father was Welsh. Hence my surname. My great maternal grandmother was Zulu and she was ‘married’ to an Englishman. And so on. My family vine has many branches. So now, my question is, if I am equal part Zulu to English (White) why should I choose to classify myself as Black and not White? You see my point? The fact is, a tomato, potato and onion on their own remains a tomato, potato and onion. But if you mix it together, it becomes soup (a rather bland soup from the above ingredients, but soup none the less). It becomes something different. Note, I said different. Not better or worse. Just different, and there is nothing wrong with being different.
The second thing we need is positive role models. There are not enough positive role models of successful Coloured people, embracing their Colouredness for the next generation. Remember, just because a boy lives on The Cape Flats, Eldos or Sydenham, does not mean he does not dream of having nice things. A flashy car and the like. However, with the failing education system in poorer areas (across the race lines actually) and lack of investment by government, in particularly in Coloured areas, the only people our youngsters see with nice things are thugs, gangsters and drug dealers. We need to give our children another option. And this actually can apply to all South African if I may be honest, but is especially applicable to those areas in the Western Cape where gang violence is going on unabated while Madam Zille is cooking pap in Limpopo, hustling for votes.
The third thing we need is to support each others business and projects. As a Coloured person, if you need a plumber, how about giving the Coloured Plumber a crack at it (pun intended) Or if you need an accountant, before going off to someone else, give a bruinou a chance. Now, by no means, am I saying even if they gave you poor service, that you must still give them patronage. What I am saying, is give them a chance to give you good service. If you’re not happy with it, then by all means go somewhere else. Just like I feel it is our duty to support Coloured businesses, it is their duty as business owners to provide quality services. And on a personal note, buy books written by Coloured people, like By Any Means, on bookshelves May 2014. J
I do understand that many of you reading this will get frustrated about me adding to the debate about race. Arguments along the lines of, we are all South Africans, or when people ask your race, you should say human. And I agree with that. But unfortunately this works in an ideal world, and this not one. Even if you as an individual don’t see race, the vast majority of people do. Just ask Jimmy Manyi. You cannot play Blackjack when everyone else is playing Poker, because you will lose. I believe instead of ignoring our differences, we should embrace them. Once again, There is nothing wrong with being different. It does not make you less.