By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK. 2 October 2023 (IDN) — South African history professor Mohamed Adhikari was one of the early writers to examine racial identity in the Coloured community. In 2005, identity was one of the hottest topics in popular and academic discourse when his book “Not White Enough, Not Black Enough: Racial Identity in the South African Coloured” appeared.
Now, a new book by journalists Lynsey Ebony Chutel and Tessa Dooms is again stimulating conversation and debate. “Coloured: How Classification Became Culture” delves into the history of Coloured people as descendants of indigenous Africans and a people whose identity was shaped by colonization, slavery, and the racial political hierarchy it created.
Coloured as an ethnicity and racial demographic is intertwined in the creation of the South Africa we have today, writes Ms. Chutel. Yet often, Coloured communities are disdained as people with no clear heritage or culture—‘not being Black enough or white enough.’
Dooms and Chutel’s book challenges this notion and presents a different angle to that narrative as it delves into the history of Coloured people as descendants of indigenous Africans and a people whose identity was shaped by colonization, slavery, and the racial political hierarchy it created.
Culture Coloured communities have created for themselves
This book is about the culture that Coloured communities have created for themselves through food, music, and shared lived experiences.
It was launched to a full house and an enthusiastic audience at Love Books in Johannesburg this month.
The authors tell differing stories of how they and their families got there, and, moreover, to the apartheid classification “coloured”.
Yet they also showed how that classification became community, and how communities developed cultures – based on music, food, and lived experience.
Lynsey Chutel writes for the New York Times from the Johannesburg bureau. She has written about the coronavirus pandemic in Africa, the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the devastating legacy of mining and efforts to move away from coal.
Tessa Dooms is a sociologist, development practitioner, activist and a director at the Rivonia Circle, a knowledge hub for policy and political alternatives.
Their book is available at Barnes and Noble. [IDN-InDepthNews]
Collage of a book superimposed on the African Union’s flag. Credit: IDN-INPS
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