Date: Sun, 9 Jul 1995 21:01:54 -0200
From: email@example.com (tim jenkin)
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Subject: Mayibuye July 1995
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By David Adams, Opinion piece in Mayibuye, Vol. 6, no. 3
New Day Dawns For Coloureds
The unique and difficult history of coloured people in South Africa means
that special efforts are needed to cement their commitment to the
non-racial vision of the ANC, argues David Adams.
The dawn of the new South Africa on 27 April 1994 meant that South Africans
were able to grapple with the traumatic realities of the apartheid order.
The institutionalised policy of divide and rule, backed by a discriminatory
judicial system, which caused people to be separated, displaced,
disenfranchised, disrespected and dispossessed of their land, was no more.
A disunited people had to rise to the occasion and face the bold challenge
of what it meant to be a single nation.
One of the deepest scars left by apartheid was manifested in the apparent
lack of identity South Africa's 'coloured' people.
Who are the 'coloureds'?
The term 'coloured' was not used until the mid-thirties of the last
century. The ancestry of the people to whom this term was given goes back
two centuries, where inter-racial contact and inter-racial marriages took
place between the European settlers and the local Khoi people.
Coloured people in South Africa have always occupied an ambiguous position
in the politics of racism and oppression. They were seen as 'less than'
european but 'more than' african in the racist hierarchy. Like the african
majority, coloureds were subjected to all the racist policies of the
A phenomenon developed, however, whereby the National Party regime, despite
having discriminated against coloureds, found a certain level of support
for it within the coloured community. At the same time coloured people
struggled for a political identity of their own through various - and
varied - bodies, like the Afrikaanse Nasionale Bond, Cape Malay
Association, United Party, Coloured Advisory Council, Labour Party, among
The April elections
Coloureds, historically, have never really identified in large numbers with
their fellow oppressed, nor has this identification been consistent or
uniform. Support for the ANC within coloured communities has varied from
province to province. Between 22 and 27 percent of coloureds in the Western
Cape voted for the ANC in last year's elections. Many people argued that
the victory of the NP in the Western Cape was the product of a few months
electioneering work. However, the basis of their victory was laid even
before the unbanning of the ANC and the start of the negotiations. Since
the late 1980s the NP prepared itself to win the election in the Western
The campaign that was mounted by the ANC in the province mobilised
significant forces, however.The ANC visited many rural areas and drew in
many new members through People's Forums. Without the tireless efforts of
many thousands, the ANC would have fared far worse in the province.
However, the coloureds voted largely for the NP in the belief that they
could maintain what little privilege coloureds had.
Since the election last year, things have changed in the Western Cape.
There have been changes in the perceptions of coloured people. The impact
of the Government of National Unity and specifically the president has had
a phenomenal impact on coloured perceptions of the ANC. Recent survey
reports on Western Cape voters show a swing to the ANC among coloureds in
rural areas. Such a shift is less marked in the Western Cape's metropolitan
The formation of coloured parties like the Kleurling Weerstands Beweging
have had little impact on politics within coloured communities. Still, the
ANC should be critical of, and mobilise against, such attempts to further
racial polarisation and chauvinism.
The support among coloureds for the National Party is as misguided as it is
fragile. The challenge for the ANC in the forthcoming local government
elections is to combat confusion, insecurity, uncertainty and ignorance and
ensure that coloured people across the class divide are persuaded to vote
for a party which will safeguard their interests along with those of all
South Africans, the ANC.
The author Du Prez summarises the position of coloureds in South Africa
best, when he says: "Thus on the basis of common purpose, 'coloureds' ought
logically to abandon any desire to join forces with their former oppressor
and thrown in their lot with the rest of the former oppressed - not out to
sheer opportunism and fickleness... but out of a genuine desire to
eradicate racism and promote the cause of non-racism and democracy."