The Coloureds

During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries groups of Cape Coloureds – descendants of Caucasians, Malayans, indigenous Khoe people and the hunter-gatherer San – moved to Namibia, where their numbers were further augmented by local intermixing. Namibia’s Coloureds are genetically very similar to the Basters. They also speak Afrikaans as a home language, albeit with a different accent. In a sense they speak a more pure Afrikaans, one that is closer to the Afrikaans spoken by the Voortrekkers rather than a dialect that has developed its own idiom, as with the Afrikaans spoken by the Rehoboth Basters.

While a small group of Coloureds practise stock farming in southern Namibia, most live in towns, especially Windhoek, Keetmanshoop, Lüderitz, Kalkveld and Karasburg. A fairly large community lives in Walvis Bay, where many are employed in the fishing industry.

A significant difference between Namibia’s Rehoboth Basters and Coloureds is that while the Basters have the Rehoboth area with which they can identify, the Coloureds have never inhabited a specific part of the country, and were not allocated a ‘homeland’ as were other non-white population groups during South African administration of the country. Consequently Namibia’s over 50 000 Coloureds live almost everywhere in the country, especially in the urban centres. As a rule they are well educated and practise a wide range of professions, including the civil service, education, the building trade, the service sector, particularly banks, hospitals and the hospitality industry. Like with the Rehoboth Basters, religion and family play a major role in their lives, and their lifestyle, rules of etiquette and moral values can be traced back to their Afrikaner roots.