Miscegenation’s lasting effects: Part Two… coloureds’ identity crisis

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THERE are many problems in Southern Africa pertaining to race, particularly between blacks and whites, but some are more overlooked than others.

Miscegenation or race mixing seems harmless especially to the couples who practice it. 

This is because they base their union on love or attraction.

But the offspring they produce often pioneer an identity crisis which none of their parents had to experience because they each belonged to distinct and accomplished races.

But now comes a child or children who are neither black, nor white, but in-between. 

White families, such as that of Bob Marley’s father, often deny the mixed offspring of their kinsmen on the grounds that they would have ceased to be white.

On the other hand, black families often accept mixed offspring because of their retention of black features, like black hair, eye balls and dark skin.

There are pure blooded blacks who are as light or lighter than mixed race people because the colour spectrum of blacks is extremely wide, with one extreme heading towards yellow and the other black. 

Thus, Bob Marley, Andy Brown and others received overwhelming acceptance from blacks though they were paternally white.

Both of them testified to receiving their talents and strength from their black side. 

As Rita Marley said in an interview: “According to the doctors, it was Bob’s white ancestry that caused him to get the cancer that cost him his life.”

He was born in the  Jamaican countryside and raised in Trench Town among the poor inner city blacks instead of the suburbs of affluent whites.

Thus he succumbed to all the elements, including poverty and the hot sun. 

This made him vulnerable and, towards the end of his life, he left the southern hemisphere for German.

This slowed down the deterioration of his body but could not salvage the damage that had already taken place.

In the case of Bob, we find that he personally chose to embrace his black side and went to the extant of rubbing shoe polish on his locks to make them match the natural texture of black people’s locks. 

That is according to his wife Rita.

Apart from touring and on one occasion exiling himself to England after political goons attempted to kill him, Bob preferred to live in Jamaica as opposed to Europe.

Though Jamaicans embraced him, the environment took note of his physical incompatibility to the region he lived in.

But put yourself in Bob’s shoes, being told to leave the warm land and people you were born amongst because your estranged father came from a cold land far-off, all for the sake of your health!

These are the types of problems that many of us overlook when it comes to race mixing.

In Southern Africa, most mixed race people are a mixture of Dutch and/or British men with the indigenous black women.

The Dutch, for centuries, practiced miscegenation with Khoi and Hottentot women around the Cape area. 

Hottentot means a mix between Bantu (Negroid) and Bushmen (Capoid). 

In the 17th Century CE, the Dutch often sailed exclusively as men to India. 

They traded in spices and used the Cape Colony as a resting point. 

Women and livestock were sourced locally and often procured forcefully. 

The mixing of not only human but animal breeds like dogs and cattle began taking place. 

This led to the formation of the Griqua coloureds who now make up almost 50 percent of the south-western region of South Africa.

These coloureds are not accepted as whites, and because they have Bushman maternal ancestry as opposed to Bantu, they are not accepting of blacks. 

Of course there are a few exceptions, but the greater majority fall in this bracket.

As it stands, Griqua coloureds have a movement which claims that their Khoi and San ancestors were the only inhabitants of Southern Africa at the time of the Dutch invasion.

The Khoi and the San were Bushmen who depended on hunting and gathering. 

This was until the Bantu entered the region and introduced cultivation and livestock rearing, among other things.

By the time the whites arrived in southern Africa, there were mixed people between the Bantu and Bushmen who the Dutch called Hottentots. 

There were also cattle and the ancestors of the Griqua had long been transformed into nomadic pastoralists.

Yet the Griqua claim they were first to arrive in Southern Africa, followed by the Portuguese and the Dutch. 

They ignorantly claim indigenous Bantu groups like the Nguni which include the Zulu, came shortly before the English. 

Other groups like the Xhosa, Tsonga, Swati and Tswana are said to have come after the English and as late as the 1850s.

The Griqua have joined the band wagon of Afrikaners who claim there were no blacks inhabiting the hinterland of the Cape when they first arrived.

This is to strip the descendants of the displaced indigenous groups of their right to the land. 

Similar sophistry has been used in South America where many of the blacks there were indigenous, but after the advent of Columbus, the Conquistadors and the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, they were no longer acknowledged as natives, but descendants of African slaves.

In Southern Africa, the Bantu were existent long before the Portuguese and they do not dispute that Bushmen predated them in this region. 

There are numerous rock paintings that attest to this fact.

But the effort of the Griqua coloureds to make it seem as though whites predated the Bantu’s arrival in Southern Africa shows subjectivity.

The Mapungubwe Machema ruins are  the work of Bantu (Lemba) people. 

These were built around the 9th Century CE and followed by the Great Zimbabwe ruins after the 1st millennium CE. 

Besides building,  the smelting of gold and other metals, along with beading, weaving and making pottery was practiced by these people who were Venda and Karanga respectively.

How then can the Griqua coloureds try to fit a foreign race which entered 600 years later in front of the Bantu, simply because they have ancestry in the Dutch?

What of the blacks who were robbed of their land during the successive wars of displacement called Mfecane

The Zulu, for example, had by then transformed from the Mthethwa who practiced male circumcision, and eventually forsook these rites in favour of military training. 

This was owing to the venturing of the Boers into the hinterland, which cost blacks, mostly Bantu-Nguni people their land, women and livestock. 

They would be forced to raid other unsuspecting groups and the Mthethwa could not risk being attacked in unpreparedness.

It must have taken several centuries for the Mthethwa to establish themselves for they had a big population by the time Chaka renamed their clan Zulu.

Currently, the Griqua and other coloureds in South Africa wish to be separated from their races of origin and wish to be recognised as an independent race. 

In South Africa alone, there are descendants of Arabs, Indians, whites, Bushmen, Australian blacks, Bantu and south-east Asians who practiced miscegenation amongst each other. 

How then can they be considered a race when their origins are not the same.

Blacks are recognised as a race because they look alike and originate in and around Africa.

Whites also have common origins in Europe. 

Where then can we place coloureds who vary amongst each other in terms of looks and have no common place of origin.

Nevertheless, when in Africa, people of all races must honour black Africans.

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