Tuesday, 14 April 2009

On being Coloured

I am a Coloured. I am a coloured because my parents raised me as such, and because of the environment around me. Most importantly, I can answer my young daughters, (who were not born during Apartheid), when they ask me, “Daddy what am I?”

I can laugh loudest and longest when I see a caricature of a coloured woman gossiping with her neighbour over the fence – it happens in my family even though now it is over the Cellphone, and sometimes in the doctor’s waiting room.

The next observation by people is obviously the one about the typical coloured. It is either the “LBS, lieg, brag en steel” (lie cheat and steal) or the drinking, smoking drugs, swearing and loafing around – and most commonly having babies at a young age. I even had a white young lady tell me that I should not wear baggy clothes the way “the coloureds do”. DUH! And let’s not forget the one thing that carries over from one generation to another – our love of going to nightclubs and just hanging (“nee daddy, ons hang net”).

These attributes are found across all cultures. The fact that as a group we are more tolerant, and probably make more fun of it ourselves does not mean that all coloureds are like this. These are activities which are often brought about by the political, social, economical and technological environment (PEST factors).

I believe the perceptions of a drinking and marijuana smoking culture has its origins in the origins of our own “nationhood”. Most of our forefathers were the offspring of (male) European settlers who settled in the cape and their Bantu slaves (female). These bastards were rejected by their mothers’ family and not recognised by their fathers.

It is a historical fact that many workers were paid with wine rather than money. Now consider being rejected by both sides of your family and paid in alcohol. What is your worth as a person? Are you worth 5 litres of wine?

This cycle is obviously degrading and leads to a very low self esteem. This leads in turn to low confidence levels in your worth and that of your family. This is the big challenge facing the Coloureds with which we still struggle today.

So, those who do drink, do drugs, swear and loaf around (in all cultures) are really broken people who have not realised their own true worth in life. So let’s leave the stereotyping out.

So if we are not that, what are we as a tribe?

Most of us (me included) has lost touch with what we are as a coloured tribe in Namibia, and the broader Southern Africa. Most importantly we must accept our history and be proud of what our forefathers have to done to get us to where we are today. It is time to stop using the terminology of we are “so-called coloureds”.

We are Namibian Coloureds proud to be working to a better future for our family, tribe and country!