LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Who are these people so glibly referred to as "coloureds"?

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Members of the Cape Coloured Congress campaigning in Mitchells Plain.
Members of the Cape Coloured Congress campaigning in Mitchells Plain.
Gallo Images/Brenton Geach

In light of media reports discussing the coloured vote, Peter Hendrickse has written to News24 to ask what does the media mean by the term 'coloured'.

Who are these people so glibly referred to as "coloureds" by all and sundry?

As in "the coloured people will..." or "the coloured vote will" etc.

Are we talking about those people of mixed decent who cannot even agree on what to call themselves?

The National party government referred to Cape coloured, Cape Malay, Griqua, Baster, even other coloured, for example. These days there are even references to "general"-  as in "Blacks in general, Africans in particular".

Some are proud to call themselves African, others refer to themselves as black, brown, coloured, "so-called coloured", even some who refer to themselves as Creole or Camissa, and believe it or not, there are even those who still call themselves "non-whites".

This alleged "homogenous" group come from various socio, economic, religious and political backgrounds.

Some are capitalists, others socialist or communist. Some are born into poverty while others have all the luxuries they desire. Some are illiterate while others are distinguished professors and scientists. Let’s not even mention all the "classes" such as working and middle classes.

Some vote for the ANC others for the DA, GOOD, Cope, IFP and even unknown parties.

In Cape Town, some live in Philippi or Mitchells Plain, Delft, in Athlone or Manenberg and still others in Plattekloof or Constantia.

There are Catholics, Anglicans, Pentecostals as well as Congregationalist, Methodist and Presbyterians. Others are Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Atheist.

Some speak English and some Afrikaans (in all its wonderful dialects/accents) and others Nama, isiZulu, siSotho or isiXhosa.

There are those who prefer German vehicles while others prefer Asian makes. Some are tall and others short.

Some are descendent from "mixed" parents who in turn may be the progeny of different race groups. 

The former wife of apartheid President FW de Klerk, Marike de Klerk spoke of the "oorskiet mense" (Leftovers). However as their numbers increase around the world, others would say that they are the future. 

So when you talk about the "coloured people will..", just who the hell are you talking about?

- Peter Hendrickse is South African, African, black, and of wonderfully and truly mixed descent, and a former Parliamentary MP.


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