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History of Interacial Relationships in Southern Africa

Like most things in colonial Southern Africa, interracial marriages were seen but not heard. The history of interracial marriage has always been an interesting one. In Africa in particular ever since the European man set foot on the continent he was mesmerized not only by the vast landscape and the Serengeti but by the African woman. It was one of those situations where in some cases the women were raped by these Euro-colonialists who could not satisfy their savage instincts.

Most of the European colonialists forced themselves upon the young and vulnerable beautiful African girls who had children who came to be known as “coloureds”. The “coloureds” became a race on their own for the purposes of segregation. In British colonies they were second class citizens. During the colonial times the Euros got most of the privileges because they were the “first class” citizens. The “coloureds” were “second class” enjoying some of the privileges of their Euro fathers and indigenous Africans were third class citizens.

The term coloured was mostly used in countries like Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana.

In places such as Zimbabwe the “coloureds” went to their own schools and lived in their own suburbs.  Most of them did not even speak or bother to learn the local language and instead developed their own dialect of the English language. As colonialism continued first generation coloured married other coloured people who shares similar experiences and could relate to their own experiences. Their children had neither African nor European parents; making their experience different from those who had an Afro or Euro parent.

During colonialism the “coloureds” got positions usually as secretaries and mechanics. This was at a time when Africans worked as teachers, clerks, nurses and janitors or engaged in menial labor jobs. Indigenous Africans viewed them through the lens that most Americans view African-Americans. Common stereotypes were that they did not like to work or that they were uneducated and had children out-of-wedlock.

The onset of independence brought about change for the indigenous African who had all kinds of opportunities at their fingertips. This was not always the case for “Coloureds”. They still struggle to find their voice in post colonial Africa.

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