So as we are about to say “sayonara” to Heritage month, allow me to dedicate Paragraphicly Correct to this wonderful month. A month where we as South Africans ought to dig deeper into what is known as our heritage. But this year on Heritage day I did more thinking than doing any digging.
So I’m busy on Facebook, looking at each and every post by people. Most of these posts had one thing in common; a picture posted by various individuals of various races sporting their traditional outfits. Black South Africans of maybe Xhosa, Zulu, Venda or Sotho culture wore their culture’s specific traditional gear. White Afrikaner South Africans had the chance to dust off their Voortrekker outfits with their “kappies”, Indians had a chance to wear saris and so forth. My point that I’m trying to make is what was I supposed to wear? As a “coloured” individual (and man do I hate talking about my race as a description of myself, but I guess one cannot shy escape from reality right?) what was I supposed to wear?
Apparently we are a mixture of white and black individuals, so I read more about my identity as a coloured and apparently I am a mixture of white and the Khoisan now. Quite confusing I know; I think I should be grateful for this variety in me but thinking about it just leaves me puzzled at times. Coloured South Africans speak English and Afrikaans; Afrikaans as in originates from Dutch, Dutch which is seen as white, so was I supposed to wear a Voortrekker outfit. That would have been awkward right? I mean like I’m a little too dark to have a man of European descent as my ancestor.
But if I’m black too, was I supposed to wear some Xhosa outfit with beautiful/colourful prints on them? That wouldn’t be awkward at all, because I always get mistaken for being a black South African; at least that was what I thought too until I saw that there was various race boxes on bursary application forms, university application forms and many other forms that need to be approved by people (shakes head), but back to me wearing traditional clothing. I’ll be able to wear those clothes without others looking at me in a funny way (well except people who really know me), until they come to me speaking Xhosa/Zulu and I’m like uhm… then I respond in English leaving those people extremely confused.
And then there’s the part of my heritage that belongs to the Khoisan, well let’s just say I wouldn’t go there. I have no problem with the culture, but I refuse to walk around barely dressed on heritage day.
So I’ll end off this piece with a question; what should I have worn on heritage day?
In my own words.