Coloured Mentality is the new webs series that explore identity of Coloured people. The project (consisted of six five-minute episodes) is created by filmmakers Kelly-Eve Koopman and Sarah Summers.

 

Personal background

Both filmmakers identify themselves as Coloured. Koopman studied Theatre at Stellenbosch University and her mother was a political activist. “There was never an investigation about what this term Coloured meant beyond cultural identification. Before this I don’t think I interrogated my origins, beyond understanding my position as a young, politically black, culturally Coloured woman in South Africa,” she says. Summers studied Film and Media at the University of Cape Town, her role in the project (excluding concept part which is obviously shared by both filmmakers) is editing, while Koopman takes care of writing. With Coloured Mentality they hope to find answers on various questions about Coloured identity. “It’s about understanding this entire trajectory of what could have made you, as this Coloured person.”

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Reimagine the identity

Summers says that Coloured people want to be self-determined and so nothing in the series will tell them how to perceive themselves. “The point of the platform was never to define this. We didn’t start this platform because we have the answers, we started it because we were looking for them.” Term “Coloured” comes from apartheid (policy of segregation in South Africa) and coloured people themselves come mainly from the Khoi – but, as Summers says, it’s not necessary the truth. “Many things determine where we come from, but we should choose to bring forth that narrative because it steeps us in an ancient and indigenous people. It makes us more than a by-product of apartheid.” Some people who were interviewed by Koopman and Summers really do identify themselves as Khoi or just say “I know I have Khoi blood.”

I feel like whenever people sit in marginalised identities people have the right to self-definition. It bothers me when people tell coloured people that you shouldn’t identify as coloured. It’s the same thing with language; telling someone they shouldn’t speak Afrikaans because it’s a white language but it’s the language you grew up with,Kelly comments.

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Mission: make them proud

Politically, in Black Consciousness circles, if you’re woke, to say that you’re Coloured means you’re disassociating with your blackness, which buys into apartheid connotations of what a Coloured person is, and the making of the ‘so-called Coloured’ thing: “Why do you not see yourself as black, why must you be Coloured?” There was a point where we were like, how is this okay?That’s why coloured identity is difficult to talk about and there are some problems with term’s true meaning and origin. It also strongly associates with negative facts and it’s hard to make people proud of their heritage.

Filmmakers’ next stage in defining “typical coloured mentality” is 1000km walk called the Indigenous Liberation Walk during which they’ll create a documentary about the road. Indigenous Liberation Walk is an annual event, and as Khoi activists walk, they stop in towns and teach communities about Khoi Heritage.

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