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RSG Praat Saam, US Woordfees Monday, 6 March 2017

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With Lynette Francis as presenter, the question was asked: “Is there a new conversation about being coloured (bruinwees)?”

It is said that Sylvia Vollenhoven’s autobiography, Keeper of the Kumm, was the spark for a new conversation about being coloured. This shortly surfaced when Wayde van Niekerk won an Olympic gold medal and some claimed him as “ours”.

The reaction to the question from a panel of experts was shortly as follows: 

Dr. Willa Boezak, a Khoisan researcher and writer, said that coloured people were hugely disillusioned in 1994 when the new government did not accepted them as black. Following this, there was in 1979 the new Khoisan movement where thousands of coloured people started to identify them with it.

A new debate is necessary about which road coloured people are on. Coloured people have a very important role to play in reconciliation in the country.

Sylvia Vollenhoven, writer of the book Keeper of the Kumm, said amidst a major struggle amongst coloured people about “who we are”, there is a big concern about mark left by the past on young people. 

We have to look to the past to find healing in the truth. Coloured people was written out of history and that needs to be rediscovered for healing to take place.

Prof Nico Koopman, Vice-Rector: Social Impact, Transformation and Personnel at US, said when there is to be a conversation, it needs to be within a framework and inclusive of all the “specifics” of the different groups in the country. 

The conversation should not be with the aim to create new divisions and new forms of discrimination. It should rather be with aim of healing, the future, reconciliation and justice. 

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