What Colonialism and Apartheid said YOU are!
A class and colour classification system was first introduced by the European colonial authorities to divide the population into European, Free-Blacks, Slaves and Hottentots (Khoe).
A new system was developed consisting of two categories, namely, Europeans and ‘Coloured People of British South Africa’. The latter had three sub-divisions, namely, ‘Hottentots/Bushmen’, ‘Kaffers’ and ‘Mixed-Other.’ Towards the late 1800s sub-divisions were introduced to ’Mixed-Other.’
The last Cape census recorded the composition of the ‘Coloured People of British South Africa’ as:
- 1 114 067 Xhosa, Thembu, Tswana and Sotho;
- 310 720 Mfengu;
- 279 662 ‘Mixed-Other;
- 85 892 ‘Hottentots’ (Nama, Cape Khoe, Hill Damara, and Korana);
- 15 682 Indians;
- 8 489 Cape Malays;
- 6 289 Griqua;
- 4 168 ‘Bushmen’ (San);
- 579 741 Europeans.
This was the last census of using these categories.
The new census introduced the first Race Classification System of the Union of South Africa which separated people into - European, Native/Bantu and Coloured. The latter assimilated Cape Indigenous Africans who were non-speakers of Bantu languages (Nama, Damara and Cape Khoe); Korana and Griqua peoples; English-speaking African migrants from outside of the Union; Masbieker African indentured labourers; West African Kroo; East African Seedies; descendants of African-Asian enslaved people; Cape Malays; Indian South Africans; and Chinese South Africans into one new classification called ‘Coloured’.
Over 70 African societies speaking Bantu languages were rationalized into 9 Linguistic National Groups and classified as ‘Natives’. Later the term Bantu was used and then, from 1977 as a countermeasure against the unity platform of the Black Conciousness Movement, the terms ‘Natives’ and ‘Bantus’ were replaced with an ethnocized version of the term ‘Black’.
The Population Registration Act and the Group Areas Act of the Apartheid Regime defined what it meant to be a white person, a coloured person and a black person.
Population Registration Act No. 30 of 1950
Definitions (xv): "white person" means a person who in appearance obviously is, or who is generally accepted as a white person, but does not include a person who, although in appearance obviously a white person, is generally accepted as a coloured person.
Definitions (x): "native" means a person who in fact is or is generally accepted as a member of any aboriginal race or tribe of Africa.
Definitions (iii): "coloured person" means a person who is not a white person or a native.
Section 5. (1)
Every person whose name is included in the register shall be classified by the Director as a white person, a coloured person or a native, as the case may be, and every coloured person and every native whose name is so included shall be classified by the Director according to the ethnic or other group to which he belongs.
Section 5. (2)
The Governor-General may by proclamation in the Gazette prescribe and define the ethnic or other groups into which coloured persons and natives shall be classified in terms of sub-section (1), and may in like manner amend or withdraw any such proclamation.
The Group Areas Act No: 41 of 1950 - Section 2. (1)
(The Group Areas Act of 1950, changed in 1957 to the GAA No:77 and changed again in 1966 to the GAA No: 36 spelling out more detailed definitions of the groups envisaged by the the apartheid system in Section 2(1) as amended in 1966:35)
For the purposes of this Act, there shall be the following groups:
(a) a white group, in which shall be included any person who in appearance, obviously is, or who is generally accepted as a white person, other than a person who although in appearance obviously a white person, is generally accepted as a coloured person, or who is in terms of sub-paragraph (ii) of paragraphs (b) and (c) or of the said sub-paragraphs read with paragraph (d) of this sub-section and paragraph (a) of sub-section (2), a member of any other group;
(b) a native group, in which shall be included -
(i) any person who in fact is, or is generally accepted as a member of an aboriginal race or tribe of Africa, other than a person who is, in terms of sub-paragraph (ii) of paragraph (c), a member of the coloured group; and
(ii) any woman to whichever race, tribe or class she may belong, between whom and a person who is, in terms of sub-paragraph (i), a member of a native group, there exists a marriage or who cohabits with such a person;
(c) a coloured group, in which shall be included -
(i) any person who is not a member of the white group or of the native group; and
(ii) any woman to whichever race, tribe or class she may belong, between whom and a person who is, in terms of sub-paragraph (i), a member of a coloured group, there exists a marriage or who cohabits with such a person; and
(iii) any white man between whom and a woman who in terms of sub-paragraph (i) is a memberof the Coloured group, there exists a marriage, or who cohabits with such a person.
A fourth Race Classification silo was created for ASIANS who were sub-divided into Indian, Chinese and Other Asiatic. Those classified ‘Coloured’ were subdivided into four groups – Cape Coloured (including Nama, Korana and Cape Khoe), Malay, Griqua, and Other Coloured.