Very briefly, The Eldo (commonly known for Eldorado Park in Johannesburg) protest is significant on two fronts:
1. Coloured people, too, have agency.
There are too may opinions, justifiably or erroneously, that the Coloured community is too apathetic on social and political matters. But if one studies an honest South African history, the coloured community has always had activists during the apartheid struggle and it continues this day, just have a look at the increase in the discussion of the coloured identity in popular and social media, the rejection of violence, gansterism, and chemical substance abuse, and political marginalisation. The significance of the Eldos protest, however, is that it is a community that is protesting and not only a few select individuals. Furthermore, it’s the most intense combined protest action by a coloured community post ’94. Too often is the coloured community portrayed as a burden or a by-product of society but it is a burden that was too easily accepted by the community. Coloured people can make a difference in their own lives, the community, and the country. Agency begins in the reality that we matter.
2. Coloured lives matter.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter whether you embrace or reject a coloured identity, systemically, we will always be Coloured. The system, which is artificial and often oppressive, does not allow one to escape or shake the categories of identity politics that were designed to be descriptive. Politically we might be black, but socially and culturally, we are coloured. Yet, while it is systemic, It’s more than just a system that has locked coloureds in a category that is perceived as negative. There are many arguments that trace a coloured reality to the indigene people’s of Africa. Yet, it is too difficult to make such a general claim that all coloureds are Khoisan. It negates or denies the Cape slave trade, the assimilation of other black people, and the evolution of the coloured community as a social and cultural group. While the term “coloured” might be a political creation, the person is not. The coloured needs to reject the false belief that we are a political creation or the product of miscegenation and therefore on a lower cultural status than the white or black person due to no inherent cultural identity. We need to reject the saying “that we are not white enough or black enough” and accept that the coloured life, indeed, does matter.
Caveat: There were many generalised and sweeping statements made and I realise that I cannot and do not speak on behalf of all coloureds.