18 September 2018

South Africa: Classification of Khoi-SAN as Coloured Stunts Society's Ability to Imagine Them as Anything but


Khoi-San community members hold up signage during a march through Braamfontein on April 27, 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Felix Dlangamandla

This is part 1 of a three-part series on Khoi-San identity, published during Heritage Month.

"History is a people's memory, and without a memory, man is demoted to the lower animals. When you have no knowledge of your history, you're just another animal."

- Malcolm X (1964)

A recent Human Rights Commission (HRC) report noted the importance of officially recognising the cultural identity of Khoi and San peoples on an equal standing to other cultural groups as "inextricably" linked to human dignity.

It identified the continued forced apartheid classification of Khoi-San peoples as "coloured" as an infringement on their right to identity and culture, a precursor to "their virtual political and social invisibility".

The commission, as mandated by the SAHRC Act, recommended that the South Africa government, through the Presidency and Department of Arts and Culture, begin taking steps toward the removal of this forced categorisation by 31 March 2019.

These findings add a new dimension to public discourse around the authenticity of those categorised as coloured and their African identity. Its...

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