The Western Cape Feature

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A Note on the Term "Coloured"

South Africa has come a long way since the first democratic elections in 1994. Parts of the country are, in fact, just about unrecognizable. What hasn't changed, however, is the enormous complexity surrounding language, race classification, and cultural identity. While for many Americans the term "colored" is offensive, in South Africa the term (spelled "coloured") is not considered offensive and is widely used to describe South Africans of mixed race, often descended from imported slaves, the San, the Khoekhoen, and European settlers. Over the years the term "coloured" has lost its pejorative connotations. Coloureds don't regard themselves as black Africans, and culturally they are extremely different. What is especially confusing to people just passing through South Africa is that many coloureds share so much in common with Afrikaners and are united in their love for and use of Afrikaans.

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