'I am coloured' - a News24 heritage day special report

2017-09-25 08:53
Picture: iStock

Picture: iStock

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Johannesburg - On Heritage Day, South Africans are encouraged to celebrate their culture and diversity.

Some chose to cherish their identity with traditional food and clothing. While for others its a celebration of their roots.
This year, News24 reporters Iavan Pijoos and Nikita Coetzee explore what it means to be coloured. They spoke to their community and asked: ''Do you think you have a heritage?''

'It is a lifestyle'

For Taz Golden, 29, being coloured is a lifestyle. “I have no idea what makes me coloured,'' he says.
Golden, a DJ and community radio presenter from Klipspruit, feels that nothing solely belongs to coloured people. No culture, no music, no food and no clothing. For him it is just a ‘lifestyle’.
“My ways makes me coloured, what I eat, what I drink and where I chill,” he says.
He believes coloured people have a little of both black and white culture.
Coloured people never really had the opportunity to explore their identity and heritage.  
Former first lady of South Africa Marike de Klerk in 1983 said of coloured people: “They are the people that were left after the nation was sorted out. They are the rest.”

Is being coloured wearing Carvelas’, or  a Nike Dri-fit cap? Is it having a gold tooth and referring to your friends as ‘hond’? 

Or is proof of ‘colouredness’ found in dropping the suspension of your Volkswagen Golf and putting a “moerse” (loud) sound system in?

Or do the stereotypes of violence, stealing cars, teenage pregnancy and drug abuse classify you as being coloured?

'It is just a label'

Shaldon Ferris, a filmmaker from Eldorado Park, south of Johannesburg, believes the term coloured is just a ‘label’. 
“It is not who we are,” he states.  “We all sort of had the same or similar shades of brown, and there was a need for classification.” 
Ferris believes coloured people have owned the title, becoming a community over the years. 
“I would say we are homogeneous because there are a lot of things that you and I can relate to even if we have not met each other – certain ways that we greet, certain ways that we talk.” 
A journey of self discovery

Intrigued by his past after hearing stories about his late grandfather, Ferris, also an indigenous rights radio producer, went on his own journey of self discovery.
It was a 12 year trek through, not only his own personal history, but also that of indigenous people.
Believing that many coloured people can be linked back to either the Khoi or the San, Ferris says in that case coloured people have "the best heritage ever".

“I think everyone leans especially to the Khoi roots and the San roots. There’s nothing that can beat that in the world. There’s no other culture that comes even close to that in the world. The oldest form of religion comes from the Khoi and San,” he explains. 

The Cape Minstrels

As for that tricky Heritage Day outfit, Ferris says the Cape Minstrels is an easy way for coloured people to celebrate on September 24. 
“This is the longest running festival in South Africa, 'tweede nuwe jaar', celebrated annually because on the first (New Year's Day), it was the masters day. The second was the day that the slaves got to celebrate. So there’s music there and there’s clothing there. I think that one is the best".
Speaking Afrikaans, some might feel, classifies you as being coloured. 
However, Iris Adonis, a pensioner from Eldorado Park, begs to differ.

'Robbed of our own language'

“We were robbed of many things. They even robbed us of our own language, the Griqua language. I want the youth of today to learn the language of the Griqua people and the dance,” Adonis says.

“We are not coloureds – we are a nation. Just like the Zulus, Sothos and everyone. We also have our place; our place is in Knysna, Kranshoek and Plettenberg Bay.”
The 69-year-old woman feels that coloured people have a lot to be proud of. 
“We are good in drawings and construction. We were born Griquas, we were not made.”
Adonis speaks fondly of Adam Kok III, the man who provided sanctuary to deserting soldiers, runaway slaves, and the remaining members of the Khoikhoi tribes.

She remains hopeful that one day something will solely belong to the coloured nation.
While a big part of who you are is linked to lineage, being coloured is about more than just ancestory.

With a history so deeply rooted in this land, it has woven its way into every other culture. I am black, and I am white, but I am also neither. I am coloured.

We eat pickled fish on Good Fridays, koeksisters on a Sunday morning and have new outfits for Christmas and Boxing Day. We use ‘awe’ as a way of greeting. We are coloured.

Read more on:    culture  |  heritage day

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