The Missing Middle

The Missing Middle

There has never been a race called “coloured”. There is no coloured culture, no coloured culture traditions and no coloured customs. And therefore, no coloured people. Journalist Lionel Adendorf Imagine one person deciding that the traditions and customs that you grew up with suddenly did not exist. Suddenly Coloured people are mystically made-up creatures like I don’t know Santa Clause. Crazy right

Ghamblr and Soulection90 are two local clothing brands that use coloured slang as designs on their t-shirts. Sayings such as “awe”, “If you lekker I’m lekker” or just “Just Las It” is etched onto the clothing. Soulection said they used those specific sayings or slogans “To get the support from Cape Town, like sayings that everyone uses. It’s everyday things we hear all the time that will go on a t-shirt.” Both Ghamblr and Soulection90 caters to the youth of Cape town making sure to use the latest trends to their advantage. Ghamblr says that ” The clothing I wanted to make is a mixture between coloured slogans (“Gham”) and in the style of Tumblr shirts and capes (“blr”) and this is how Ghamblr was made.” These t-shirts use words or phrases that are usually bashed and ridiculed for being “Coloured” and instead it is worn with pride for being “Coloured”.

I asked a few people in my community what it meant to be Coloured to them. “We’re nowhere, we’re always in the middle. If you’re a Coloured you’re always in the middle you never go up, you never go down. You’re always stuck in the middle.”  says Mishka Pretorious flustered as she serves a little boy his bompies and chips from her house shop. My grandma looks confused at being asked what it means to be coloured and responds with “Om coloured te wees is net om te accept dat ek coloured gebore waas. Ek is ‘n coloured. En niks anders nie.” basically telling me that I’m crazy to ask such a question if all she has ever known was being a Coloured. “Yoh to be a coloured is to be third class.”  says Porche Solomons laughing.

It was the year 1652 when the Dutch East India Company came over to get a drink of water and decided to stay forever. They ended up needing slaves because, God forbid, they had to clean their own messes. However, they were prevented from enslaving the indigenous people of South Africa. So off they went to get slaves from places like India, Madagascar, Angola and Southeast Asia. The offspring as a result of this combination of groups was coloured people. Whether it be through love or rape the end result was us coloureds.

The culture that then emerged was a mixture of all the traditions and customs brought by the diverse mixture of people. Things such as the Cape Carnival on New Year’s Day where you can hear the Kaapse Klopse singing and dancing in brightly coloured clothing. Gatsby’s and Jive’s that are by far the best food ever created. Rollers and swirlkouse to make your hair look nice for Christmas or koeksisters and toffee apples from the moetjie around the corner.

If the history of Coloured people is not brushed away than it is replaced with horrific stereotypes. The Rainbow Nation Navigation Guide caused an uproar in the Coloured community as it was filled with generalisations. Things such as “vat en sit” was mentioned which refers to a man living with his girlfriend and making her pay for their expenses. “When I say I’m coloured, people usually put you in a class, a class of like we say “will nie werkers”. People who have no ambition for the future that always wants to be on the streets. Always end up gangsters or people who does not know how to speak “proper English”. ” says Sebastian Temm.

When I say I live in Hanover Park, people usually ask if it’s safe or are there gangsters. — Micah Deloport

Not only is there stereotypes associated with being a coloured person but also with the communities in which we live. During apartheid, Coloureds were moved to places such as the Cape Flats, Manenberg and Hanover Park.  The images to follow were all taken in Hanover Park, the home of the photographer Micah Delport. “When I say I live in Hanover Park, people usually ask if it’s safe or are there gangsters and there is just so much negativity around it. I wanted these images to show the beauty and resilience of my neighbourhood and coloured people.”

The images to follow is a result of Coloureds crushing the stereotypes and showing that there is beauty in who we are as a community. We are here, we are proud and we know that it is lekker to be lekker.

“It just means to be a human being” — Gloria Solomons
“I was born a coloured so I’m most probably going to die a coloured” — Meryl Petersen
“I’m mos a coloured now what are you?” — David Temm

Featured Brands:


Micah Delport

Nina Wilson
Zakkiyya Abdurahman

Glazed Make-up:
Tease SA

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