Calls for the term 'Coloured' to be abolished

CAPE TOWN - There are increasing calls for the term Coloured to be abolished.

The term is a racial classification coined during apartheid and its opponents say it further entrenches divisions among South Africans.

Academics and heritage activists say a new and inclusive term is needed to identify all South Africans, recognising the country as a melting pot for Africans and people from around the world. 

In recent weeks, it would appear that disgruntlement in Coloured communities across the country, has been on the increase.

Also on the rise have been frustrations over perceptions that social ills like drug dealing and gangsterism are only endemic to the Coloured community.

"Who says it happens predominantly in coloured communities? Criminal gangs I can think for examples of the ones that exist in Milnerton, in Sea Point. I can think of the ones in Rondebosch and Claremont,” said Western Cape Head of Detectives Jeremy Vearey.

People in predominantly Coloured communities say they are being marginalised and many are speaking up saying they’re also unhappy with the term Coloured itself.

READ: Coloured communities feel marginalised by government

Patric Tariq Mellet, a heritage activist, says apartheid-era terms like Coloured have perpetuated racial division.

Mellet is proposing a new term to reflect almost all South Africans, “Camissa”.

"What I don't want people to get the idea of is that we're coming up with a new ethnic definition. 

“Camissa is not trying to recreate ethnicity and to have a perpetuation of coloured classification under Camissa classification. 

“What we saying is Camissa represents a non-ethnic, non-racial, non- colour term to reflect our amazing heritage."

WATCH: 'Blacks & coloureds are not going anywhere in this country': says Statistician General

The term has received some support.

Former Cosatu leader and one-time Cape Town ANC mayoral candidate Tony Ehrenreich admits the governing ANC hasn't done enough to recognise Coloured people as Black South Africans.

"A big problem in South Africa is that coloured, for lack of a better word, are being de-Africanised,” said Ehrenreich.

“Essentially the ANC and governments slogans talk about Blacks in general and African in particular and for purposes of that definition coloureds are not included. 

“Now that's historically inaccurate. Because of coloured have the origin in the San and the Khoi and many other African groupings, including East African slaves but we also include the mix of Europeans who settled in South Africa as well as Malaysian slaves and South East Indian political prisoners.

“So it's a whole group of people who have their origins in South Africa from the earliest days. So we must appreciate that coloured are as African as Zulu and Xhosa and all the other groupings and the government must ensure that that is rectified in public policy and in the governing party’s statements."

Mellet says he has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa to suggest a term change - he's yet to receive a response.



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