Thursday, 20 February 2014 19:30

Coloured Apologists: Lambs trying to silence a wolf.

Written by Ryan Swano
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Recently a well-loved Cape Town entertainer was astounded that the praise from most of his very multi-cultural audience which included international dignitaries was totally ignored and instead he has been heavily criticised and possibly “blacklisted” by what can only be described as Coloured Apologists.
 
This all because his brand of comedy tells things as they are, calls a spade a spade and has a sense of pride in having grown up with a specific accent. He has a penchant for using certain slang without being vulgar and his performances reflect how proud he is to be of and from a Coloured community.
Coloured Apologist slammed him for having the gall to be so very Coloured when performing to an international audience.
 
My intention is not to focus on the specific incident above, but that we all need to ask why there is still a need for a “well-positioned” Coloured person to apologise to the rest of South Africa and the world on behalf of Coloured people? 
Why are ‘Coloured Apologists’ up in arms when someone asserts the fact that he or she has grown up in a certain way, has some behavioural traits that positively portray the peculiarities of the Coloured people of South Africa and is proud to be a complexly layered individual who decidedly has a culture?
Why was one of our much-loved entertainers made out to be ‘too Coloured’ for the Suidoosterfees when indeed the audience loved him?
 
Any culture is kept alive, evolves, celebrates, mourns and addresses itself as an entity with the stories it tells of itself, not only to itself but also to others. These stories are told through various media platforms and are brought forth by our entertainers, artists and writers.
 
Not outright generalising, but it has to be said that Coloured apologists often, but not always, are well-educated and have in many instances ‘made it out of’ the communities they were born into.
They mostly focus on what they see as inferior behaviour (usually measured by Eurocentric standards) but do not offer solutions to curb and stem the real issues that face the communities where they still have relatives living and facing the hardships that they were either fortunate, smart or lucky enough to overcome.
 

There is an interesting little snippet on Cape Town TV where Emile Jansen encourages people to write or perform about what they see every day in Afrikaaps (a Cape slang which is a mixture of Afrikaans and English, of words that have been made up and of words borrowed from various other languages). He encourages people to write in the language through which they experience their lives.
 
More and more entertainers, artists and writers are indeed realising that when one tells a story about your own community in a language that is not authentically representative of how they interact and how they live, then they cannot take ownership of that story. 
When they do not own the story they do not have the power to address the negative issues that are addressed in the story.
Equally or more importantly they will not own the desire to celebrate the very positive aspects of our culture celebrated in our stories. 
 
 
Some of our stories remind us of our past. Those stories are for instance told every year via the Kaapse Klopse or Minstrel Carnival as it has now become known, but a Coloured apologist will not see it as a part and parcel aspect of our culture which you may or may not like but cannot deny.
Our past is told by poets like Adam Small who wrote in his brand of Afrikaaps but a Coloured Apologist will say that it is confusing to teach a child a variant of the academic Afrikaans that they study at school, while his or her very own child is in any case using mxit and whatsapp shorthand to their own academic detriment.
It is told in the way our artists are latching on to the fact that most Coloured people are directly descendant from the various Khoi and San tribes that lived in the Cape when the first colonialists arrived and they are telling those stories in Afrikaaps.
 
 
 

Our present stories are told by the Afrikaaps poets of today, by Rymklets artists like Jitsvinger and the hardhitting rhymes of Isaac Mutant, in the Plattelandse accent of  Hakkiesdraad Hartman and the very clever worldplay of Hemelbesem
It is told in the entertaining mix of English and Afrikaans when Soli Philander presents Taxi Radio and Taxi Vision.
It is addressed in the issues that Nigel Pearce does not squirm from when presenting his show on Goodhope FM.
The way we speak in our homes is mirrored in the way Clint Brink and Lorcia Cooper portray their characters when they talk to each other in Scandal and in the way Durban comedian Joey Rasdien speaks in a distinctly Coloured accent that is completely weird for Capetonians yet we all understand him. 
Our present is reflected in the way characters speak in the movie Eldorado which addresses the negative issues in our communities by telling it like it is. 
Coloured apologists see all of the above as a bad reflection of Coloured people in the way language is used (by imposed academic standards) irrespective of whether the essence of what is told is a positive celebration or a means to address a negative issue.
 
I am not saying that academic standards should be chucked out the window or that we should shun the use of the standardised Afrikaans when we find ourselves in formal situations but telling a story is not a formal affair. Our future stories need to be told in the language and context that reflect how we experience them. 
 

If you want your story to be experienced by others as authentic, whether it is in the form of a narrative, novel, a poem, a song or any other medium, then if you authentically do not use anything but academically correct language and your life experiences are within those formal linguistic bounds then of course your story should reflect that and be written as such.
However if your default setting on your vocal chords is Afrikaaps en Kombuis Engels and like Soli Philander the word you use for boobs is têtte then how do you come across as genuine saying: “Regtig waar, daai jonge dame het ‘n baie mooi gevormde boesem” when in fact your all life you said “Jarre! Daai kind het mos ‘n paa’ lekke têtte!”?
 
Skryf en perform ’it soes djy ‘it ervaar en soes djy ’it voel. 
The more you do that, the shakier the little bit of ground becomes that Coloured apologist believe they so firmly stand on.
 
 
 
Maak Afrikaaps Legal noba wattie Coloured apologists sê....



Eldorado Trailer

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