Goffal or Goffel is a popular term used for Coloureds, persons of mixed race from the former states of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland: Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The community includes many diverse constituents of Shona, Northern Ndebele, British, or Afrikaner descent.
It is not clear when the term "Goffel" first entered common usage, but among Coloureds themselves it had surfaced in the mid- to late 1970s. The nation with the largest Goffal population is Zimbabwe, where approximately 18,000 still reside.
Racial composition of goffals
Goffal can refer to a mixture of any race but is predominantly a mixture of local black tribes (Shona and Ndebele), and white settlers. Goffal surnames are of European origin e.g. Brown, Staal, Green, Orange, Britto, Soutter, Noble, Mckop, Hassam, Green, Van Helsdingen, and Van Heeden. They have also been nicknamed "vazukuru", which means nephew or niece born of a sister, by ethnic Shona people, referring to the wide belief that they were mostly born of relationships between white men and black women.
During white minority rule in the then Rhodesia all children resulting from inter-racial relations were separated from their families and put into race-specific schools and restricted to living in coloured designated neighbourhoods. As a result the mixed race offspring began to marry and have families within their racial group which already included the Cape Coloureds. The Goffal community began to grow and gain an identity. Specifically suburbs mainly in Bulawayo (Thorngrove nicknamed Groove, Barham Green nicknamed B.G., Forrest Vale, Queens Park, Morningside, Hillside), Harare (Arcadia, Ardbennie, Braeside,Southerton, St. Martin, Sunningdale nicknamed Kong Town), Mutare (Florida), Gweru (Nashville and Northlea), Masvingo (Eastvale) and Kwekwe began to grow and gain a significant population but in recent years many have gone in diaspora with large groups in London, Milton Keynes, Dublin, Canada in cities and towns like St.Catharines/Hamilton/Burlington/Toronto and New Zealand.
In addition, Goffals traditionally worked in jobs that were below those reserved for white people but just above the menial jobs reserved for black people in colonial times. Post-independence male Goffals were found working predominately "grease jobs"; e.g. mechanics, boiler makers, welders, fitter and turners and females as teachers, nurses and secretaries in the governments, particularly the lower courts.
Goffal community stereotypes are characterised by very jovial way of life which are characterised by loud parties, extremely social attitudes, loud and fast cars, colourful attire and of course, the love for street fighting amongst the younger members of the communities. It was not uncommon to see groups of Goffal youngsters going to nightclubs just to get a thrill out of fighting with others to prove their superiority. They also love Fundays, Car Races, beerfests and soccer games along with the communities having places set up for games like bingo and darts for the elderly.
Goffals have had to prove their identity to Southern Africa and therefore have pride in their background and sense of culture.
Unlike their South African counterparts who speak Afrikaans, the main language is a mixture of mainly English with some Afrikaans, local Bantu and slang made up over the years to produce a unique accent which is easily identifiable.
Goffals can also be identified by their accents that are very distinctive with the word "ekse" (Afrikaans "Ek sê" or "I say") used at the end of each phrase or sentence e.g. "How's it, ekse?" to which the reply is "Lekker, ekse".
There is no fixed genotype to classify the average Goffal. Over the years there has been the development of several types of Goffal. Categorically they would break down to various mixed races that would include Anglo/Shona, Anglo/Ndebele, Asian/Shona and many mixed race derivatives. Many are unable to trace their direct ancestry.
- Chris Cocks. Fireforce: One Man's War in the Rhodesian Light Infantry (1 July 2001 ed.). Covos Day. pp. 31–141. ISBN 1-919874-32-1.