I'm Not Black, I'm Coloured: Identity Crisis At The Cape Of Good Hope

I'm Not Black, I'm Coloured: Identity Crisis At The Cape Of Good Hope

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Reviewed by: Leanne McGrath

For more than 350 years the Cape Coloured - the majority population in South Africa - have been belittled, stripped of anything they can call their own and oppressed, resulting in a major identity crisis.

The people embraced the concept of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s multi-racial “rainbow nation” following the ANC’s electoral victory in 1994 that spelled the end of Apartheid. But they soon discovered freedom, economic growth and equal representation did not include them.

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They claim that during Apartheid, “we were not white enough” and that "now we are not black enough” to benefit from the social promotions and affirmative action introduced by the ANC.

The documentary traces the origins of the Cape Coloured, detailing how they descended from mixed race relationships between Black Bantu slaves, European settlers and indigenous Khoisans. Some also have Malay ancestry.

Following the arrival of the British in 1775 and their taking control of Cape Town, Afrikaners (those of European descent, mainly Dutch and German) felt threatened and moved further into South Africa. Tensions spilled over and resulted in the Boer wars, with opposition to the British reaching fever pitch at the turn of the 20th Century.

The movie argues this anger and fear of losing their identity led, in various ways, to Apartheid as the Afrikaners never wanted to feel oppressed again. The Apartheid-creating National Party formed to preserve and promote Afrikaner ideology and ethnic nationalism, which sought to oppose British rule and strengthen racial separation.

After they came to power, the Cape Coloured lost their vote, despite promises made, and were impacted by Apartheid laws. The races were divided into four categories - Black, White, Coloured and Indian - and segregated.

Tests, such as nose metres, determined your race and many families were torn apart because members were determined White, others Coloured or Black. The documentary details forced removals, notably that of the city’s District 6, when 60,000 people were evicted and ordered far out to the Cape Flatts.

District 6, the movie claims, was the perfect “rainbow nation”, where all races and religions lived harmoniously together. Blacks and Coloureds were forced to live in separate townships, mostly undesirable, infertile land, while policies were created to stop them prospering.

The Coloured people were led by the White-controlled media’s propaganda that believe Blacks were a threat in order to keep segregation rife. Despite the abolition of Apartheid, the Cape Coloured say life is still a struggle and they have lost their identity.

Those interviewed - including Coloured pastors, MPs, students and town elders - reveal how affirmative action policies do not benefit them, while the Western media only distinguishes between Blacks and Whites, so investment goes to Black townships rather than Coloured ones.

The documentary carries out DNA testing on those interviewed to trace their genetic footprint, informing them of their heritage. Some discover their ancestors are indigenous Khoisans, others North Africans or Europeans.

As well as emotive interviews, the documentary includes historical paintings, photographs, charts and video footage to illustrate South Africa’s history and past and existing tensions.

The narration is informative, detailing the major segregation policies of Apartheid to cater to a mass audience and not just those with existing knowledge.

Local elders, community leaders, pastors and students give first-hand accounts of their painful experiences under Apartheid — including families being torn apart and being labelled “poor Whites” and “wannabe Whites”.

They also reveal their concerns for the future as tensions continue - they admit there is racism towards Blacks - and emphasise their desire for their identity as Coloured to be recognised.

Reviewed on: 27 Mar 2010
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I'm Not Black, I'm Coloured: Identity Crisis At The Cape Of Good Hope packshot
examination of the legacy of Apartheid in South Africa from the viewpoint of the Cape Coloured, the majority population.
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