Today, I’m taking you to South Africa where you’ll meet Mischke, born and raised in Cape Town and who tells us what it was like to grow up as a colored girl in a country where people are still nowadays, categorized by their skin color
I was born in 1986 and for me the end of apartheid came about when Mandela was elected President in 1994.
I don’t know what life was like before apartheid as I was born during the last stretch of the apartheid years. When Mandela was elected I was 8 years old. I remember that day very clearly. I remember that our school closed early, because of the election and when I got home from school (I walked home) my parents were home too. I found it strange as they both worked during the day. I soon came to realize why. My parents were elated by the news of Mandela.
It meant that as people of color our future in South Africa had changed
I don’t really think growing up colored has necessarily impacted or defined my lifestyle. It has however given me a unique identity. After 1994 my family moved out of what you could call a colored neighbourhood and we moved into one of our town’s new suburbs, one that was predominantly white at the time. With this move also came a change of schools for my brother and I. We were sent to an Afrikaans Model C school (or white school as it was known back then). This change in suburb and school has more so impacted my lifestyle now as it resulted in me growing up further away from what would be considered my colored roots (heritage).
I was referred to by other coloreds as a coconut (someone who is colored (brown) of the outside, but “white on the inside”
This judgement was passed primarily based on the fact that we had moved into a white area and a white school. I never considered myself a coconut as I was still me – true to myself even if in other’s eyes it meant being “less colored”.
When I switched schools in grade 4 I was one of only 4 coloreds in my grade and as Murphy’s Law had it we were all in different classes so we were never friends. Thinking back it’s rather funny to think that each of us had our own circle of friends where we were the only person of colour within that circle. I have to say that my experience in Primary School was beautiful, on my first day at the new school I was introduced to my new class and I recognised two white girls who I attended ballet with so already the unfamiliar became less scary.
During first break I was walking around the playground as I hadn’t any friends and before I could even cry a pretty white girl with golden blonde hair came up to me and said: Hi, are you okay? Do you want to be my friend? My day was made.
I had overcome the biggest task any new kid could. I had found a place to belong
That girl, Annelie, became my best friend and we were inseparable for many years. I can only recall one incident of racism – it happened between myself and another girl. I was playing with my friends and she overheard my speaking, I had mispronounced a word and she proceeded to make fun of it taunting me because I was colored. I was taken aback, but my friends stood up for me and it was over before it started. With each new year one or two new colored kids would join our school and I became a favourite of all my teachers as I was a hard working student who did well in school
Colored people by nature have always been easy to open their hearts and homes to others
I think that is why it has been easy for “coloreds” to make friends with those of other races or religions. It also dates back to the days of District Six, when people of color where living together with Jews and Muslims as well as black people during the time of apartheid. It’s always been in our nature to get along with others
So of course, I have friends from different race groups as well as religions. I’ve always been a very open person something which I would say is a result of what I went through. I’m not someone who classifies myself as only colored. I’m more than my race. I’m my passions, my interests, I’m a wife, I’m a daughter and a daughter-in-law, I’m someone with aspirations who enjoys adventures.