As a child, I was one of those “binne hys kinnes”. I hardly went anywhere without my parents, I was never allowed to play outside without supervision and playing in the street was a big no-no.
Coloured people my age and older, all have these amazing stories of how they played kennetjie in the street, how they had to be home before the street lights go on or how they used to spat down the road when they heard “tierie-rie-tie, tierie-rie-tie”, as the 7de Laan opening song started to play on every TV down the street. I don’t have any of those stories to tell.
The fact that I only really socialized with my friends at school, my sisters at home and my cousins, whenever we visited each other, made me very awkward when it came to strangers or people I didn’t know. I was, and still am quite friendly, but it took me a while to warm up to people. So naturally, I wouldn’t comfortably speak to people I didn’t have a close relationship with. That, unfortunately, made me come across as very …’highty tighty’.
I preferred speaking English and my mom didn’t like it when I used slang terms or spoke in Kaaps. To top it all off, I also have light skin, light eyes and at the time my ‘styl’ hair was quite long. I fit the sturvy profile to a T.
I must admit, sometimes I didn’t mind it because it probably saved me from having a lot of potential weirdos being lastag.
My parents wanted to make sure that their children are always healthy and safe and that we don’t grow up to sit on winkel stoepies, loafing for a 5bob to add to my entjie funds. For that I will always be grateful, cause look at me now, writing articles for Vannie Kaap and half a degree to my name (That’s a story for another day. Stay tuned).
The sheltered life wasn’t always a good thing. “Nee, sy hou haa mos wit”, “kyk nou wee die sturvy kin”, “hoo nou wee dai hoë Engels” … These are among the phrases I had to hear on a daily basis. I’ve always felt like an outsider among my Coloured peers, throughout my schooling career. It wasn’t until University that I felt comfortable enough to break out of that shelter and come into my own and embrace the Coloured in me.
However, the fact that I was made to feel like I didn’t fit in with MY PEOPLE, just because of my upbringing is so problematic to me and here’s why:
When I think of being Coloured, I think of diversity. A mix of races, a mix of skin tones, a mix of hair, a mix of transitions… Is net ‘n mix van alles, soes ‘n full house gatsby. There is no rule book titled “how to be Coloured” that excludes me because I don’t have curly hair, don’t always speak in Kaaps or don’t go to the game shop to tokkel Street Fighter until I clock the game.
I think the biggest downfall in our Coloured people is that we’re not very accepting of people within our own community who are just a little bit out of the ordinary.
So whether djy nou ‘n bietjie gham is, of ‘n bietjie sturvy is, relax net. Our diversity is what makes us great and we should learn to embrace it.