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Is a mention of Mohandas K. Gandhi appropriate in this article? For most outside South Africa, he would seem to be the most noted Coloured personality. While he played only a small role in terms of time (1893 to (arguably) 1915), his influence on both the APO and the residual effects of his movement on the ANC might be worth note. I do not have the depth of knowledge on Gandhi nor a reasonable perspective on his overall role in SA history to edit this article; I was wondering if the author would think it appropriate to add a mention/link in either the first or second paragraph of Apartheid and Beyond.

Surely this article refers to Coloured in its specific Southern African context - i.e., meaning of mixed race? Coloured is not usually used in Southern Africa as a synonym for "Indian". Humansdorpie 15:35, 22 July 2005 (UTC)
I would agree that in South Africa, Indian (i.e. South Asian) was not a subset of Coloured, while Malay (i.e. South East Asian) was. This applied both geographically (Indians in Natal and Coloureds in the Cape), linguistically and politically. I will change "some Malay or Indian ancestry" to some Malay or Indonesian ancestry". --Henrygb 14:23, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
Me too. Ghandi was Indian. That doesn't make him coloured. Rbrady 13:06, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

Coloured as an ethnic group[edit]

"Coloured" is an apartheid era construction. "Template:ethnic group" should not be applied here. Big Adamsky, though meaning well, is mistaken. How, since "Coloureds" is an ill (in the true sense) defined group, can you define its population, language or religion?--Ezeu 23:01, 27 December 2005 (UTC)

Actually, you are the one who is "mistaken, though meaning well", if you think that the Coloured population did not exist prior to, during or indeed after Apartheid. In fact, the official Apartheid legal category also called "Coloured" included those who self-identify (and were identified by others) as "Coloured South Africans" or "Brown South Africans", although it also included various other ethnic groups for convenience. For comparison, the legal category "White South Africans" included a sub-category called "Honorary Whites", which were mostly of East Asian origin. Ezeu, you will need to distinguish between the legal category that was enshrined into the legal framework of South Africa and South West Africa from 1961 to 1994 and on the other hand the group of people that this category was named after. Unless you can come up with a good source as to why this ethnic group is to be considered non-existant, the ethnic group box goes back into the article very shortly (again). //Big Adamsky 23:14, 27 December 2005 (UTC)
Alright, I will re-insert the ethnobox. You may be right. I'll do some reading and return with my findings. --Ezeu 23:36, 27 December 2005 (UTC)
Wonderful - let me know if you need any tips for reading/browsing. =] //Big Adamsky 23:52, 27 December 2005 (UTC)
Could more be said about why most Coloured people reject the term 'mixed race'? I think it's quite important to show that Coloured people themselves identitify with the label Coloured (and consider 'mixed race' to be derogatory in that it implies no specific ethnicity), since I've discovered while living in the UK that most people here think that Coloured is more derogatory. Joziboy 4 March 2006, 15:29 (UTC)
It's in a historical sense, that never changed. Unlike the K or N word, Coloured never reached a derogatry stage, and the reason to that, I don't know? to be honest it's easier to say as well. The apartheid government needed to give a name for them, so they used "Coloured". Because people soon had to edentify themselves as "coloured", it became more popular. You might think that "coloured" would have become derogatry because of its "apartheid roots", however during apartheid most signs and segregation actually started as simply "white" and "non-white", so using the word "Coloured" was helpful to edentify them and give them an ethnicity. Bezuidenhout (talk) 21:43, 21 January 2011 (UTC)

Rather heterogenous[edit]

I find the term "rather heterogenous" as used in the first paragraph to be ill-defined and of such a nature that it could be contrued as derogatory. I'm not changing it as it may be your solution to other difficulties described below. Just bringing it up for consideration. Rbrady 13:06, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

I'm confused here. In what way is this wording ill-defined? Do you feel that this heterogenous-ness is not defined well enough in the sentences that follow? And in what way do you find it to be derogatory? Will it sound better without the "rather"? How should "heterogenous" be paraphrased to convey the meaning of "having [rather?] diverse origins" equally descriptively?. Please contribute by providing a suggestion for a better way to explain and define "Coloured" in an underogatory manner. //Big Adamsky 14:49, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

A coloured view[edit]

This is my personal opinion,as an actual coloured person. A coloured identity has existed in pre-apartheid times.early coloureds did benefit from marginally better treatment than the 'native black'population and have developed a superiority complex over their black counterparts. This is something they are paying for as the state is now sidelining them under the guise of 'black economic empowerment. -Unsigned

Another coloured view[edit]

Many thanks to those who contributed to this Wikipedia article. My father's family probably qualify under this racial designation. They uprooted themselves from South Africa in the late 1950's, and re-settled in the UK. Shortly after that, my father left for Canada where he married. My surname is most definitely Afrikaans, but memories of my father's family suggest that they were enthusiastic adopters of British cultural norms. Afrikaans was rarely if ever used among them, even though they were no doubt fairly fluent in it. Surprisingly, my father became credentialed as a physician at Wits. He played cricket and tennis, suggesting some level of acceptance within a British social circle (in Kimberley and Johannesburg). Details of these events -- reasons for the family uprooting, their social status in South Africa -- were never discussed, and my surviving relatives prefer to either forget or embellish these uncomfortable memories. I'd be interested in any perspectives others could lend to this history, as I find it interesting. One source describes the Coloured Proclamation Act of 1959, which lead to land expropriation. I'm wondering if my father's family, having owned a house in Kimberley, acted pre-emtively in leaving by selling their house. Historical records suggest that family members owned a construction-related business in 1930's Kimberley. Also, how could a coloured gain acceptance to a South African medical school? -Unsigned

Other labels?[edit]

I don't like this part of one of your sentences: "This is not to say that they identify themselves as such – perhaps preferring to call themselves "black" or "Khoisan" or just "South African." I think "perhaps" is very subjective. What evidence do you have that Coloured people prefer to call themselves these things? In my experience in South Africa, Coloured people took offence to being called "black," and this seems to be backed up by our Coloured contributor, who claims that Coloureds have developed a superiority complex over Xhosas and other native Africans. I haven't changed it, because I have no evidence to the contrary, but suggest this paraphrase should be removed until evidence can be provided. Andy81.129.177.120 16:21, 23 February 2007 (UTC)

RESPONSE: In response to Andy's disquiet above over my suggestion that people who are usually socially identified as "coloured" sometimes prefer to refer to themselves as "black" or "Khoisan" or "South African": First, there is a long history of rejection to the term "coloured" within the community. During the 1970s and 1980s, politically active coloureds embraced the philosophy of the Black Consciousness Movement which said that the coloured racial designation was an apartheid-manufactured category and that coloureds should see themselves as part of a larger "black" oppressed political category. Many middle class and politically active coloureds began to to see themselves as part of this larger black group because the solidarity it instilled between African, Indians and coloureds enhanced their oppositional activities against the racist state. By remaining locked into their different racial groups, they felt weakened and divided. Thus, the investment that many coloureds made into that black solidarity movement remains powerful to this day. Many continue to eschew the coloured label with some embarrassment, feeling that it is too confining for their sensibilities.

In fact, the idea that coloureds are also "blacks" is enshrined in the Constitution which defines "black" to mean anyone of African, Indian, or coloured descent. Black Economic Empowerment laws and affirmative action policies include coloureds under the "black" designation (though it is true that they are ranked as "less previously disadvtaged" than Africans. In social conversation, "black" does not always automatically mean "African," though it often does. It can also include coloureds and Indians, depending on the context.

I agree that many coloureds, especially working-class folks who compete directly with working-class Africans for limited jobs, have a low opinion of Africans, including Xhosas. But this is just one coloured perspective; there are others who do not hold such superior feelings, especially outside the western Cape. Many just want to do away with race altogether, seeing it as an oppressive organizer of human society, preferring the racially neutral term "South African." And others, who feel that there might be some social and political power to be gained by identifying themselves as indigenous prefer to call themselves "Khoisan." This designation may be historically warranted especially in the northern parts of the country where Khoi societies have adapted and survived colonialism and apartheid. So it is worth adding the "perhaps" qualifier to the sentence in the article because it shows that there are always exceptions to the general description of any racial or ethnic group.

For more literature on the subject, which discusses not only the state "categorization" of mixed-race people as coloureds, but also "self-identification" (as blacks, Khoisan & South African) by such people, see Mohamed Adhikari's excellent book "Not White Enough, Not Black Enough: Racial Identity in the South African Coloured Community" (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2005). The other evidence I have for this perception is gained from everyday experience living in Cape Town (some years in the townships), being married into a coloured family, and being an academic who studies South African history and culture for a living.Henry M. Trotter 11:50, 24 February 2007 (UTC)

Most coloured people do identify as coloured[edit]

I really think that the fact that the vast majority of coloured people in the Western Cape (who constitute by far the largest community of coloured people in South Africa) self-identify as coloured and take a great deal of pride in the term needs to be far more heavily emphasised in this article. I also don't believe that this is restricted to the working class or to the Cape Flats in any way. The fact that 'the term coloured is still widely used in South Africa' is buried two thirds of the way down the article, and located completely inappropriately in a section on history.

I think that the sensitivity of the term is important to establish, but opening the article with a spiel on how 'they' (not even some of them) prefer to identify as 'Khoisan' or 'black', which is a massive inflation of the truth, is misleading. Furthermore, I think those coloureds who classify themselves as South African to the exclusion of their membership in a coloured culture and community are in the extreme minority, if only because identifying primarily as a member of a unique and separate coloured culture has become far less politically charged than identifying as a member of a unique and separate black or white culture, which is perceived in the popular consciousness as far more divisive and exclusionary.

I think a lot of coloured people would object to this article's portrayal of their culture and the word they use to refer to it as something perpetuated by (and now a relic of) the Apartheid system. I hate to shrink from 'be bold', but I believe the article's more seasoned contributors would do that adjustment more justice than I. 20:48, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

Different creation?[edit]

Unlike other multi- racial groups, in other parts of the world, they seem to be as much an ethnic group as whites or blacks. Perhaps this should be stressed more in the article? Considering that they're often viewed as the offspring of a white and black relationship. Just how long have they been a well- defined ethnic group? 21:59, 1 April 2007 (UTC)


Cape-coloureds often have month names as surnames (referring to the month they arrived on the cape). why are these the english month names, when they have been brought to the cape by the dutch? --Severino (talk) 09:31, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

This blog gives some information on slave surnames in the Cape. As I understand it from reading the blog, the names and surnames of slaves were changed when they reached the Cape, from Dutch nicknames to whatever system of naming was fashionable at the time, eg. giving people names like November. A slave might have a name like "November van der Kaap" and his children might then have November as their surname. As to why they are English names, I can only speculate, but of course some month names, like "November" are spelled the same in both English and Afrikaans. Totorotroll (talk) 15:24, 26 July 2011 (UTC)

Quite a few points to think about with the word "coloured"![edit]

Hiya all; I have a few ideas that I think could help the article:

  • Firstly, I'm not sure that there should be a capital letter in "coloured".
  • I also think it's important that the article should be merged with "colored", as it is the same word, with a British and American Spelling, and so it's really the same subject. The subject may have had a different context/use for each spelling, but it is the same topic; if the topics are unrelated I think they should be given different titles such as "Coloured (South African term)" or "-(North American term)".
  • Also, I'm not sure whether it would be better to have to title as "Coloured people" or "Colored".
  • Another point is that I think it might be better to refer to "coloured people" rather than "coloureds", as I feel that the latter phrase is a bit dehumanising (i.e. saying it's the only characteristic "coloured" people have/should be judged on).
  • Some else: I think we should be wary of using the term "coloured" (i.e. "Measures taken by Malan to remove the coloured vote") if we don't think it's an appropriate term to use - but still of course talking about it and trying to keep it neutral.
  • Also, I think we should try to keep it roughly consistent about whether we quote ("coloured") the term coloured when it's used, italicise it (coloured) or using it without special formatting (coloured) - I don't think it should be italicised (though I should really look at the Manual of Style in more detail), but I'm not sure about with of the other two is better.

I hope I've explained myself alright and that the suggestions aren't completely useless - thanks for all your work on the article and managing to read the entire comment! Drum guy (talk) 18:28, 2 February 2008 (UTC)


I would like to see more referencing. Particularly the first half of the "History of the idea of “Coloured” people" section. Without proper referencing this part could appear too emotive.--Discott (talk) 20:59, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

Who classifies as "Coloured"?[edit]

I am 75% Black 12.5%Chinese 12.5%Indian why I be considered coloured or black Murray7286 (talk) 20:09, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

If you belong to an African tribe (Xhosa, Zulu etc) and speak an African language, then you are black...but if you are part of European culture (speaking a European language, being Catholic or Protestant) then you are Coloured.-- (talk) 23:01, 5 July 2009 (UTC)

A 'european' name also helps, in the Soweto Uprising, the boy who was shot and carried was, by skin colour, black, but had changed his last name to Pieterson to be classified as Coloured. Bezuidenhout (talk) 10:50, 25 July 2010 (UTC)
Apartheid is over now, and has been for some time. You are free to classify yourself as whatever you choose. Totorotroll (talk) 15:28, 26 July 2011 (UTC)

His egg was boiled harder[edit]

I am not familiar with this idiom. While the passage makes sense using context it's confusing to me and I suspect many others, and probably not encyclopedia style use. (talk) 22:24, 2 October 2008 (UTC)

I agree! I found that a very strange phrase, and when I googled it, the only place it showed up was here. I wonder if it's a direct translation of an Afrikaans phrase. Really, it isn't appropriate, but I'm loathe to edit here as I know little about the subject. I find the whole paragraph it's in oddly emotive, so it could probably be totally rewritten. Snorgle (talk) 08:59, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

Cape Malays?[edit]

Correct me if I'm wrong but in the opening sentance it states 'Coloured = mixed race with Sub-Sahara ancestry. Excuse me if I am incorrect but surely there are 'Coloured's in Cape Town with Malayan and white or white and Asian, because I thought that coloured = white + other, not sub sahara ancestry + other Bezuidenhout (talk) 10:46, 25 July 2010 (UTC)


Why at the beggining does it state "is a term used to refer, or a term which was referred to", I don't get where people don't use it anymore? Bezuidenhout (talk) 21:37, 21 January 2011 (UTC)

Proposed merge[edit]

What do people think about the idea of merging the Cape Coloured page with this one? It contains a lot of the same information - perhaps it would be better as a subsection of this page? Totorotroll (talk) 19:53, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

American Usage[edit]

Although this is about the South African use, it should be noted that the section on the US is a bit inaccurate.

In the US, "people of color" may refer to anyone who isn't white. However, colored specifically means someone of black African or part black African ancestry. It would have been the umbrella term for blacks and mulattoes alike in the segregated southern US. So I think it's a bit inaccurate the way it's worded here. (talk) 01:13, 14 February 2013 (UTC)


There are not 64000 coloured in France or 200000 in Angola. This source is wrong and unproven. The source is confusing mixed race and coloured as per south African culture. And if you think really there are hundred thousands of mixed race people of African background in France but they are not part of the south African coloured cultural group. Please someone remove this wrong information — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:47, 13 February 2015 (UTC)

I agree. The Joshuaproject is a dodgy reference and often exaggerates the figures. That edit needs to be removed, as the term "Coloured" in this sense is not the same. We are talking about Afrikaans or English speaking people who do not identify with the other three major ethnic groups in Southern Africa. Bezuidenhout (talk) 04:58, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

Corrective description of Coloured People[edit]

I would like to point out that there is so much ambiguity and self-absorbed commentary in this article and that it would mislead readers into understanding that, primarily, Coloured people came to be as a result of sexual relations between Khoisan Women and Men of other Ethnic groups. The common denominator here should be that Coloured People are descendants of the aboriginal Khoisan People of Southern Africa. Otherwise that would suggest that those Khoisan people who've NOT encountered sexual relations BUT have lost their cultural existence AND are integrated into the Coloured Community, today, kept a thoroughbred Khoisan bloodline, to this day, are not Coloured? Where then, does one draw the distinction for the sake of numbers and a sense of belonging? I'll explain... When the Dutch settlers came to Southern Africa they first encountered the Khoisan/Bushmen tribes and (More like Impose, and Khoisan People willfully accepted) "integrated" their, LANGUAGE (which became Afrikaans), CULTURE (dressing, eating, music etc) , EDUCATION, BELIEFS, INTEGRATING ASIAN AND MALAYSIAN SLAVES and many other characteristics and virtues if you will. Thus then transforming almost an entire ethnic group into the diverse nation that is called Coloured People today. Coloured PEOPLE'S existence are then primarily owned to Khoisan People. The outer appearance of some Coloured People is as a result of the unions formed by Khoisan people with European and other ethnic groups. It should thus be noted that Coloured People are of Khoisan descent and who's entire existence was diversely changed by integrating settlers and slaves from the 1600's. So much that their language is non existent, the population and culture densely lowered to almost extinction. That would mean that even those People who's ancestry stems from a pure Malaysian and Asian bloodline but are also now integrated into the Coloured community should then be called Indian or Malaysian? It cant ONLY be because of sexual relations. The Indian and Malaysian people brought as slaves had to be integrated and fit into a culture that was started by the Khoisan to accommodate the Settlers and themselves. The current lifestyle, culture, birthright etc. of their descendants are as a result of the integration with Khoisan People and therefore fall under the Coloured umbrella along with the rest of us today. The term Coloured was then coined as a form of distinction for all the people stemming from the integration with the KHOISAN People. If Coloured People are mixed raced people, then that would mean that a Zulu/Sotho, Xhosa/White, Chinese/Pakistani child is Coloured too?? That child is from more than one different ethnic group. There is NO Khoisan Connection and should not be seen as Coloured. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Sleekmac (talkcontribs) 11:05, 15 October 2015 (UTC) Sleekmac (talk) 11:43, 15 October 2015 (UTC)

Genetics for ethnic groups RfC[edit]

For editors interested, there's an RfC currently being held: Should sections on genetics be removed from pages on ethnic groups?. As this will almost certainly result in the removal of the "genetics" section from this article, I'd encourage any contributors to voice their opinions there. --Katangais (talk) 20:04, 30 April 2016 (UTC)

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