South African Indians are Black South Africans


Like him or not, Madhevan Moodley or his stage name, Karou Charou, the Indian comedian, has ignited a debate about the identity of Indians in South Africa.

Like him or not, Madhevan Moodley or his stage name, Karou Charou, the Indian comedian, has ignited a debate about the identity of Indians in South Africa. From my discussion with friends and supporters, there is some consensus that this is true in many respects. KC8 has called on Indians to boycott Malls and Casinos to protest against discrimination and marginalization in South Africa.

We have an identity crisis, and to grasp this better, we must go back a little into our history. If we want to build this country and unite South Africans, we must first understand who created, and why racial divisions, still exist in South Africa.

The title Indian was given to us by the Apartheid government to mischievously put us into compartments so they could rule over us. Indians, Coloureds, Zulus, Xhosas, Ndebeles and other tribes were titles created by the former White government.

By doing this, they created separate identities for all of us and focused more on what made us different rather than on what unites us. This race classification continues until today, so when we fill in official documents, we are required to say whether we are Indian, Coloured or African. But this is the problem.

We are not Indian or Coloured. We are African. I personally do not like being referred to as another nationality because of my heritage. Most of our families have been in this country for up to seven generations, and many have not even been to India. “Indian” refers to a person’s nationality, like Italians in Italy or Americans in America. You don’t see Kamala Harris being referred to as an Indian in America where she is Vice President-elect. She is American and Black American too.

I have observed from my travels overseas that people with Indian decent but born in Europe see themselves as European or British citizens. There is also a tendency to stereotype all SA Indians because of some very successful ones who have climbed the ladder through sheer hard work and determination, with no assistance from the government. They do not represent most SA Indian families who are all not Businessmen, Doctor’s, Lawyers, Accountants or Engineers.

You cannot say all Black Africans are billionaires because Cyril Ramaphosa and Patrice Motsepe are billionaires. You may not know this, but close to 40 % of SA Indians are unemployed and live in poverty. Many work in factories and survive of small wages.

The Freedom Charter and our Constitution is not worth the paper it is written on if we classify South Africans as Indian and Coloured. There is no mention of these race titles in our core founding documents. The only classification is Black and White. So we are Black South Africans.

All Black’s were oppressed in this country, although some to a lesser extent than others. But that should have been levelled by this democratic government after 26 years in power. Some of our Laws and practices today continue to divide Black’s into African, Coloured and Indian.

Indians are those born in India. We don’t speak their languages. We don’t dress like them or eat their type of food. Our South African cuisine is unique to South Africa.

I’m a fifth-generation South African and refuse to be classified in terms of another countries nationality. Jobs are no longer reserved for Black’s (Indians, Coloureds and Africans) but African. Universities and the medical school discriminate against SA Indians and Coloureds. Government tenders are favouring Black African and excluding other race groups who were also previously disadvantaged.

While we divide ourselves into Black African, Indian and Coloured, Whites in South Africa enjoy privileges they had acquired under Apartheid. Whites control 80% of our economy, own 70% of the countries economically viable land, occupy over 60% of senior management positions, yet makeup just 12 % of the population.

There are 1.5m SA Indians and Coloureds, 5.1m of our population of 58 million. We are strong only when we unite with the majority. If there’s one thing we must remember from this message, it’s this. WE ARE NOT VISITORS IN THIS COUNTRY. SOUTH AFRICA IS THE LAND OF OUR BIRTH. WE ARE AFRICAN, BORN ON THE CONTINENT OF AFRICA. We, as ADeC, are saying we are Proudly Black and proudly South African.

Discrimination against Indians and Coloureds in any form will be met with resistance, not only from those in these communities but from all Black’s that seeks justice.

By Visvin Reddy, ADeC.