Coloureds (Afrikaans: Kleurlinge) are a multiracial ethnic group
Southern Africa who have ancestry from various populations
inhabiting the region, including Khoisan, Bantu speakers, Afrikaners,
and sometimes also Austronesians and South Asians. Because of the
combination of ethnicities, different families and individuals have a
variety of different physical features.
There were numerous relationships and unions among first, the
Europeans and Africans, and later among either of those groups and
persons from Asia. In the Western Cape, a distinctive Cape Coloured
Cape Malay culture developed. In other parts of
Southern Africa, people classified as Coloured were usually the
descendants of individuals from two distinct ethnicities. Genetic
studies suggest the group has the highest levels of mixed ancestry in
Mitochondrial DNA studies have demonstrated that the
maternal lines of the Coloured population are descended mostly from
Khoisan women. This ethnicity shows a gender-biased
admixture. Male lines have been African, Asian Indian and
Coloureds are to be mostly found in the western part of South Africa.
In Cape Town, they form 45.4% of the total population, according to
the South African National Census of 2011. :56–59
The apartheid-era Population Registration Act, 1950, and subsequent
amendments, codified the Coloured identity, and defined its subgroups,
Indian South Africans
Indian South Africans initially classified as a subgroup of
Coloured by the act.
2 Pre-apartheid era
4 Post-apartheid era
5 Southern Africa
7 See also
9 External links
The Coloured community is predominantly descended from numerous
interracial sexual unions, primarily between Western European men and
Khoisan women in the
Cape Colony from the 17th century
Coloureds possess a diverse heritage including
British, Irish, German, Mauritian, Saint Helenian, Indian, Xhosa and
Coloureds are descended from Shona or Ndebele and
Afrikaner settlers. Griqua, on the other hand, are
Khoisan women and
Afrikaner Trekboers. Despite these
major differences, their ancestry from more than one naturalised
racial group means that they are coloured in the South African
context. Such mixed-race people did not necessarily self-identify this
way; some preferred to call themselves black or
Khoisan or just South
The Griqua were subjected to an ambiguity of other creole people
within Southern African social order. According to Nurse and Jenkins
(1975), the leader of this “mixed” group, Adam Kok I, was a former
slave of the Dutch governor who was manumitted and provided land
Cape Town in the eighteenth century (Nurse 1975:71). With
territories beyond the Dutch East India Company’s administration,
Kok provided refuge to deserting soldiers, runaway slaves, and
remaining members of various
Khoikhoi tribes. In
South Africa and
neighbouring countries, the white minority governments historically
segregated Africans from Europeans after settlement had progressed.
They classified all such mixed race people together in one class,
despite their numerous ethnic and national differences in ancestry.
The imperial and apartheid governments categorized them as Coloureds.
In addition, other more homogeneous ethnic groups also traditionally
viewed the mixed-race populations as a separate group.
During the apartheid era in
South Africa of the second half of the
20th century, the government used the term Coloured to describe one of
the four main racial groups it defined by law in an effort to impose
white supremacy and maintain racial divisions. Individuals were
classified as white South Africans (formally classified as
"European"), black South Africans (formally classified as "Native",
"Bantu", or simply "African", and comprising the majority of the
Coloureds (mixed-race), and Indians (formally classified
Coloured people may have ethnic ancestry from Indonesia, mixed-race,
Khoisan ancestry. The
Apartheid government treated them as one
people, despite their differences. 'Cape Muslims' were also classified
as 'coloured.' They generally have Indonesian and black ancestry, as
many Indonesian slaves had children with African partners. Many Griqua
began to self-identify as
Coloureds during the apartheid era, because
of the benefits of such classification. For example,
Coloureds did not
have to carry a dompas (an identity document designed to limit the
movements of the non-white populace), while the Griqua, who were seen
as an indigenous African group, did.
In the 21st century, Coloured people constitute a plurality of the
population in the provinces of
Western Cape (48.8%), and a large
minority in the
Northern Cape (40.3%), both areas of centuries of
mixing between the populations. In the
Eastern Cape they make up 8.3%
of the population. Most speak Afrikaans, as they were descendants of
Afrikaner men and grew up in their society. About twenty
Coloureds speak English as their mother tongue, mostly
those of the
Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. Virtually all Cape Town
Coloureds are bilingual. Some can comfortably codeswitch
between Kaapse taal (a creolized dialect of
Afrikaans spoken mostly in
the Cape Flats) and suiwer
Afrikaans as used in
schools and media), and South African English.
At least one genetic study indicates that
Cape Coloureds have
ancestries from the following ethnic groups; not all
South Africa had the same ancestry.
Indigenous Khoisan: (32–43%)
Bantu peoples, chiefly from Southern Africa: (20–36%)
Peoples from Western Europe, chiefly the Low Countries: (21–28%)
Peoples from South and Southeast Asia: (9–11%)
The Malagasy component in the Coloured composite gene pool is itself a
blend of [[Malay race]Malaysians] and Bantu genetic markers.
This genetic admixture appears to be gender-biased. A majority of
maternal genetic material is Khoisan. The Coloured population is
descended predominantly from unions of European and European-African
males with autochthonous
Coloured people played an important role in the struggle against
apartheid and its predecessor policies. The African Political
Organisation, established in 1902, had an exclusively Coloured
membership; its leader
Abdullah Abdurahman rallied Coloured political
efforts for many years. Many Coloured people later joined the
African National Congress
African National Congress and the United Democratic Front. Whether in
these organisations or others, many Coloured people were active in the
fight against apartheid.
The political rights of Coloured people varied by location and over
time. In the 19th century they theoretically had similar rights to
Whites in the
Cape Colony (though income and property qualifications
affected them disproportionately.) In the
Transvaal Republic or the
Orange Free State, they had few rights. Coloured members were elected
to Cape Town's municipal authority (including, for many years,
Abdurahman). The establishment of the Union of
South Africa gave
Coloured people the franchise, although by 1930 they were restricted
to electing White representatives. They conducted frequent voting
boycotts in protest. Such boycotts may have contributed to the victory
of the National Party in 1948. They carried out an apartheid programme
that stripped Coloured people of their remaining voting powers.
Coloured people were subject to forced relocation. For instance, the
government relocated Coloured from the urban
Cape Town areas of
District Six, which was later bulldozed. Other areas they were forced
to leave included Constantia, Claremont, Simon's Town. Inhabitants
were moved to racially designated sections of the metropolitan area on
the Cape Flats. Additionally, under apartheid, Coloured people
received educations inferior to that of Whites. It was, however,
better than that provided to Black South Africans.
Explanation of South African identity numbers in an identity document
during apartheid in terms of official White, Coloured and Indian
J. G. Strijdom, known as the Lion of the North, worked to restrict
Coloured rights. He removed their ability to exercise their franchise.
Strijdom's government expanded the number of Senate seats from 48 to
89. All of the additional 41 members hailed from the National Party.
It increased its representation in the Senate to 77 in total. The
Appellate Division Quorum Bill increased the number of judges
necessary for constitutional decisions in the Appeal Court from five
to eleven. Strijdom, knowing that he had his two-thirds majority, held
a joint sitting of parliament in May 1956. The entrenchment clause
regarding the Coloured vote, known as the South African Act, was
Coloureds were placed on a separate voters' roll. They could elect
four whites to represent them in the House of Assembly. Two whites
would be elected to the Cape Provincial Council, and the governor
general could appoint one senator. Both blacks and whites opposed this
Torch Commando was very prominent, while the Black Sash
(white women, uniformly dressed, standing on street corners with
placards) also made themselves heard.
Coloureds refused to register for the new voters' roll. The
number of Coloured voters dropped dramatically. In the next election,
only 50.2% of them voted. They had no interest in voting for white
representatives—an activity which many of them saw as pointless.
Under the Population Registration Act, as amended,
formally classified into various subgroups, including Cape Coloureds,
Cape Malays and "other coloured". A portion of the small Chinese South
African community was also classified as a coloured subgroup.
In 1958, the government established the Department of Coloured
Affairs, followed in 1959 by the Union for Coloured Affairs. The
latter had 27 members and served as an advisory link between the
government and the Coloured people.
Coloured Persons Representative Council turned out to be a
constitutional hitch[clarification needed] which never really got
going. In 1969, the
Coloureds elected forty onto the council to
supplement the twenty nominated by the government, taking the total
number to sixty.
Following the 1983 referendum, in which 66.3% of white voters
supported the change, the Constitution was reformed to allow the
Coloured and Asian minorities limited participation in separate and
subordinate Houses in a tricameral Parliament. This was part of a
change in which the Coloured minority was to be allowed limited
rights, but the Black majority were to become citizens of independent
homelands. These separate arrangements were removed by the
negotiations which took place from 1990 to provide all South Africans
with the vote.
During the 1994 all-race elections, some Coloured people voted for the
white National Party. The National Party recast itself as the New
National Party, partly to attract non-White voters. This political
alliance, often perplexing to outsiders, has sometimes been explained
in terms of the culture and language shared by White and Coloured New
National Party members, who both spoke Afrikaans. In addition, both
groups opposed affirmative action programmes that might give
preference to non-Coloured Black people, and some Coloured people
feared giving up older privileges, such as access to municipal jobs,
African National Congress
African National Congress gained leadership in the government.
Since the late 20th century, Coloured identity politics have grown in
Western Cape has been a site of the rise of opposition
parties, such as the Democratic Alliance (DA). The
Western Cape is
considered as an area in which this party might gain ground against
the dominant African National Congress. The Democratic Alliance drew
in some former New National Party voters and won considerable Coloured
support. The New National Party collapsed in the 2004 elections.
Coloured support aided the Democratic Alliance's victory in the 2006
Cape Town municipal elections.
Patricia de Lille, current mayor of
Cape Town and founder of the
now-defunct Independent Democrats, does not use the label Coloured but
many observers would consider her as Coloured by visible appearance.
Independent Democrats party sought the Coloured vote and gained
significant ground in the municipal and local elections in 2006,
particularly in districts in the
Western Cape with high proportions of
Coloured residents. The firebrand
Peter Marais (formerly a provincial
leader of the New National Party) has sought to portray his New Labour
Party as the political voice for Coloured people.
Coloured people supported and were members of the African National
Congress before, during and after the apartheid era: notable
Ebrahim Rasool (previously
Western Cape premier),
Dipuo Peters, Beatrice Marshoff, Manne Dipico, John Schuurman and
Allan Hendrickse. The Democratic Alliance won control over the Western
Cape during the 2009 National and Provincial Elections and has since
brokered an alliance with the Independent Democrats.
The Congress has had some success in winning Coloured votes,
particularly among labour-affiliated and middle-class Coloured voters.
Coloureds express distrust of the ANC with the comment, saying
that the Coloured were considered "not white enough under apartheid,
and not black enough under the ANC." In the 2004 election, voter
apathy was high in historically Coloured areas.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, around 4 in 100 South
African marriages occur between members of South Africa's major
ethnoracial groups, with trepidation toward interracial marriage
polling far lower among black South Africans than among white South
Africans. It is not known how many descendants of post-apartheid
interracial relationships identify as Coloured or with the Coloured
Racial-demographic map of
South Africa published by the CIA in 1979,
with data from the 1970 South African census.
The term Coloured is also used in Namibia, to describe persons of
mixed race, specifically part Khoisan, and part European. The Basters
Namibia constitute a separate ethnic group that are sometimes
considered a sub-group of the Coloured population of that country.
Under South African rule, the policies and laws of apartheid were
extended to what was then called South West Africa. In Namibia,
Coloureds were treated by the government in a way comparable to that
of South African Coloureds.
Zimbabwe and to a lesser extent Zambia, the term Coloured or Goffal
was used to refer to people of mixed race. Most are descended from
mixed African and British, or African and Indian, progenitors. Some
Coloured families descended from Cape Coloured migrants from South
Africa who had children with local women. Under Rhodesia's
predominantly white government,
Coloureds had more privileges than
black Africans, including full voting rights, but still faced social
discrimination. The term Coloured is also used in Swaziland.
See also: South African cuisine
Numerous South African cuisines can be traced back to Coloured people.
It is said that bobotie, snoek based dishes, koeksisters, bredies,
Malay roti are staple diets of
Coloureds and other South Africans as
well. Most dishes are passed down for many generations.
South Africa portal
Coloured People in Namibia
Culture of South Africa
Passing (racial identity)
Person of color
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Coloured people.
Bruinou.com - Beyond Identity - A lifestyle portal for Coloured people
in South Africa
The documented Griqua history
2001 Digital Census Atlas
KakDuidelik.co.za - Die ding ruk mal, a coloured community portal
Children of the Mist - The Griqua history in word and images
Bruin Development Forum
THE COLOURED DECLARATION
Ethnic groups in South Africa
Khoi and San