The Coloured Community

A coloured marching band in Cape Town.
Coloured primary school children.
Cape Town.

Coloureds are South Africa’s mixed-race population. This group developed as a result of, primarily, Dutch settlers mixing with indigenous Africans and slaves from Asia. Due to their heritage, coloureds often have Dutch-sounding names, and a majority of them speak Afrikaans as their mother tongue.

Squeezed in the middle

Historically, when South Africa was under white rule, the coloured community had it somewhat better than blacks in terms of political rights. They had limited voting rights and, to some degree, better job opportunities. Nevertheless, they did not come close to having the same privileges as whites, and many of them were poor. Today, to the couloreds’ chagrin, a similar pattern of poverty persists, with large portions of the coloured population still being without a stable income and living in under-developed squatter camps.

The particular squatter camps where many coloureds live are often located in and around Cape Town, a region where the coloured community constitutes about half of the population. The large share of coloureds here — in spite of the existence of shanty towns — means that the coloured community as a collective has great influence on local elections and that there is also a considerable portion of mixed-race people who belong to the higher social strata and live spread out across town.

Tomato bredie

Political influence and people’s different economic status aside, there are many things that coloured people of various backgrounds overall have in common. One of these is an appreciation for certain foods, with tomato bredie and bobotie being among the group’s typical dishes to cook. Tomato bredie, described in a few words, is a spicy stew made from mutton or lamb and a great deal of tomatoes, and bobotie, in short, is a type of minced meat gratin.