The endless battle of the ‘khulid’
I am yet to meet a coloured person who identifies as a Khoisan or refers to any Khoi lineage in their blood.
Cheif Khoisan SA is seen next to Statistician General Riseng Maluleke at the Stats SA offices where he delivered a memorandum to have the Khoisan people recognized, 18 July 2018, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles
There he was. The Chief Khoisan of SA in his Khoisan gear and his firm glutes exposed to the cold aircon in the luxurious foyer of Statistics SA’s headquarters in Pretoria yesterday.
What is his cry this time? Coloured people rejecting their heritage.
According to the chief, “coloured” people only came into existence in the ’50s due to the strong hatred of black people by Verwoerd’s apartheid government.
Because Verwoerd hated the blacks so much, he had to find another group that would fit between whites and blacks so that the latter could be legally placed at the bottom of society.
And it worked. The ideology of “divide and conquer” was a success.
Like many Africans, the Khoisan have had their language and culture scrapped by the oppressors and were placed under the new racial group “coloured”.
“Afrikaans is my mother tongue because I am coloured,” some would say. I have even heard: “I am a true ‘khulid’.”
But according to the chief, that term is demeaning.
I must agree.
In our country, there are terrible and indeed demeaning stereotypes clinging to the coloured people.
They drink a lot. Are violent. Make babies. The occasional distasteful jokes that a coloured woman would stab you if you even look in the direction of her man.
And lastly. They have no culture.
You often hear excited black people talking about their planned African outfits ahead of each Heritage Day, all eager and looking forward to representing their heritage in the passages of their workplace.
Each time I have engaged with a coloured person about their heritage, they often distance themselves from Africa.
I was once scolded by a coloured man when I identified him as black. “I am not black. I am coloured.”
So, I turned to those I knew – my coloured friends and colleagues.
“What is your heritage? What makes you coloured?”
The response is always something that implies they don’t originate from this continent at all.
“My grandfather is from Indonesia and my mother is half German and half Xhosa.”
“My great-grandparents are Malaysian and sailed to the Cape.”
A detailed family tree of descendants from out of Africa.
Their eyes glisten with pride when they explain how their ancestors made their way to South Africa.
I have never met a coloured person who identifies themself as a Khoisan or refers to any Khoi lineage in their blood.
Instead, it is often a “us vs them” approach. The coloureds vs the Khoisans.
But have coloured South Africans asked themselves why they don’t have their own language? Or own culture?
What happens to coloured South Africans on Heritage Day when colleagues are draped in saris, Ndebele blankets or their Voortrekker outfits?