Former Western Cape Cosatu boss Tony Ehrenreich has written an open letter to president Cyril Ramaphosa saying he wants the term ‘coloured’ scrapped, suggesting ‘Camisa’ as its replacement.
“We are a growing culture that has a big part of its origins at the mouth of the Camisa river, where there was a bustling multi-cultural and multi-national trade station,” he wrote.
“This term Camisa, which referred to the sweet waters that emerged from this river, more accurately covers our cultural identity, and we prefer that reference to our cultural identity,” he continued.
Ehrenreich wrote that he sees the term ‘coloured’ as a “a derogatory construct of the apartheid racial separation of people”.
He also slammed what he sees as “the de-Africanisation of the ‘coloured people’ in SA.”
The politician further hit out at what he sees as the exclusion of the ‘coloured’ community from African culture.
“Let this Heritage Day be the last one that sees the coloured community excluded from their rightful place in the family of African cultures that make up the Rainbow Nation,” he said.
“We ask for a consultative process that leads to the correction of this historical and cultural anomaly in SA.”
Ehrenreich described the letter as: “correspondence from me, in my personal capacity, in relation to the cultural heritage of the coloured people and the political and economic legacy, that this presents to the community that I am from”.
“I write this letter to you as an anti-apartheid and anti-colonial activist in SA, under the banner of the ANC. I am a black South African; I am an African by history and by affinity.”
Ehrenreich is not alone in his problems with the term ‘coloured.’
In July, The Citizen reported that the head of South Africa’s Khoisan community Chief Khoisan SA feels the same way.
He visited various Statistics SA offices all over the country to hand over a memorandum demanding that their heritage and culture be recognised by the government.
Chief Khoisan called on ‘coloured’ South Africans to deny the race classification as the term came about in 1950 to distinguish between Khoisan natives and black South Africans.
“Scrap the coloured term. Those that don’t want to refer [to] themselves as Khoisan should call themselves something else. We’re not coloureds and the term will not be used any more. It should have the same punishment or imprisonment as the k-word,” he said.
Also, in August, author Patric Tariq Mellet wrote an opinion piece in the Mail & Guardian called ‘Stop calling us ‘coloured’ and denying us our diverse African identities’, arguing similarly to Ehrenreich and Chief Khoisan SA that the term was imposed on the community during apartheid and is a denial of the peoples’ roots as “indigenous Africans”.
Ehrenreich made the news recently for the first time in years after he was found guilty of hate speech after the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) released a 26-page ruling that upheld complaints laid against him by the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD).
The complaint relates to a post Ehrenreich published in 2014 on social media about Israel’s Operation Protective Edge that devastated the Palestinian territory of Gaza in which he called for South Africans to take revenge on the SAJBD for Israel’s actions.
“The time has come to say, very clearly, that if a woman or child is killed in Gaza, then the Jewish board of deputies, who are complicit, will feel the wrath of the people of SA with the age old biblical teaching of an eye for an eye.”
Ehrenreich had reportedly been “directed to apologise in writing to the SAJBD and affirm his commitment to constitutional values”.
Additional reporting by Rorisang Kgosana and Daniel Friedman