Coloured people in Namibia

Coloured people in Namibia are people with both European and African, especially Khoisan and Bantu ancestry, as well as Indian, Malay, and Malagasy ancestry especially along the coast and areas bordering South Africa. Coloureds have immigrated to Namibia, been born in Namibia or returned to the country. These distinctively different periods of arrivals, from diverse backgrounds and origins have led to a diverse Coloured population. This diversity was even further exploited by South African officials who referred to three distinct groups amongst the coloureds, namely: "Baster", "Cape Coloureds" and "Namibian Coloureds".

Namibian Coloureds
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Namibia, South Africa
Afrikaans, English, German
Protestantism, Catholic, Islam
Related ethnic groups
Baster, Khoikhoi, Namaqua, Griqua, Afrikaners

In addition, another element in the coloured makeup was the coloured community in the enclave of Walvis Bay (which remained part of South Africa until 1994) that was closely linked to the people and traditions of the Cape Coloured.

Map of the black homelands in Namibia as of 1978

The biggest cultural clash occurred in the mid-1980s when the school students were becoming politically aware through teachers returning primarily from the University of the Western Cape (UWC). This led to them challenging their elders (elected to the Coloured Councils and Rehoboth self-government) who were anti-SWAPO. This embracing of black nationalism, and rejecting of the term "so-called coloured" led to many young coloured people rejecting their cultural history and insisting on a racially unified, Independent Namibia. Many would agree with Norman Duncan who asserted that "…there‘s no such thing as a coloured culture, coloured identity."[1]

However, since the early 2000s, more and more writings have appeared arguing that Coloureds are being marginalised.[2]


The coloured people represent a very wide range of genetic and cultural backgrounds. They are a mixed race with European and African ancestry. Their history under the rule of South Africa was very similar to that of the Cape Coloured. The general consensus is that coloureds accept the Seven Steps of District Six to show their lineage to include:

  1. Indegenes (including Khoe) San, Khoe and amaXhosa in the Cape and the baSotho and baTswana;
  2. Slaves
  3. Free blacks
  4. Europeans
  5. Maroons (runaway slaves, free black rebels, mixed ‘Baster’ descendants of indigenes and slaves, non-conformists Europeans, escaped convicts, and eccentric missionaries)
  6. Exiles and refugees
  7. Indentures and migrants (people who owed debts for example, and other economic reasons)[3]

After World War IEdit

A coloured pressure group, the African People's Organisation (APO) opposed the transfer of the German colony to the South African Authority. From the end of World War I, when South Africa took over the administration of South West Africa (now Namibia), more Cape Coloureds entered the territory. These settlers petitioned for permission to create a coloured township, and this was granted in 1921 by the South African Department of Native Affairs. The first coloured township was built in Windhoek north of the Old Location, in the area of present-day Pionierspark.[4]

The South West African (SWA) Administration and white settlers distinguished three distinct groups amongst the Coloureds:

  1. Baster
  2. Cape Coloureds
  3. Namibian Coloureds

The first local branch of the APO was established in February 1923. Its aims were to defend "the Social Political and Civil Rights of the Cape Coloured Community throughout the SW Protectorate". Two years later, the African National Bond (ANB), another political organisation with its aim of representing the Coloured community in South West Africa was established. Both the APO and ANB sympathised with the two South Africa "white" parties, (South African Party and National Party).[5]

The SWA Administration dealt a significant blow to the status of the "Coloured" group when it promulgated Proclamation No 34 of 1924 (Native Urban Areas Proclamation). The proclamation states that "a coloured person who lives in the native location shall be regarded as native". The Colour Bar Law of 1926 that reserved certain positions in the mining industry for Whites was made applicable in South West Africa.

In 1946, Andrew Kloppers moved to Windhoek from South Africa. Before his arrival he was involved in politics in the Cape and was a member of the Kleurling Ouer-Onderwyser Vereniging (KOOV), the Coloured Parents-Teachers Organisation. In 1947 he forms the South West African Coloured Teachers’ Association (SWACTA). Clemens Kapuuo becomes the President of the South West Africa Coloured Teachers Association from 1950–1953.

In 1950, the National Party of SWA (NPSWA) wins the elections of the Legislative Assembly.[6] The blurring of ethnic lines between the "Coloureds" and poor whites is the major motivation for the introduction of the Group Areas Act in 1950. The Act prescribes ownership and occupancy of land on racial grounds.

On 18 April 1955, SWACTA and SWA Coloured People's Bond (SWACPB) present a petition to the SWA Administration and the South African Department of Native Affairs for the creation of a new "coloured" township in Windhoek. In addition, SWACTA requests the establishment of a Council for Coloured Affairs. Till this point, the "coloured" population in Windhoek is represented by a "coloured" member on the Native Advisory Board of the Old Location.

Herman Andimba Toivo ya Toivo launches the Ovamboland People's Organisation in Cape Town on 2 August 1957. Among the founding members are "coloured" political activists, Ottiliè Schimming and Kenneth Abrahams.

Two "coloured" organisations are established in 1959:

  1. SWA Coloured Organisation (SWACO), with a pro South African stance; and
  2. Volksorganisasie van Suidwes-Afrika (People’s Organisation of Southwest-Africa), which is anti-SA.

Both parties oppose the creation of the new "coloured" township, Khomasdal, to be built west of the town Centre of Windhoek.[7]

On 10 December 1959,the police move into the "Old Location" to break up a crowd of people demonstrating against the moves to Khomasdal and Katutura, the "coloured" and "black" townships. The first shot fired killed the "coloured" leader, Willem Cloete, the representative on the Native Advisory Board. According to official reports 11 people were killed and 25 injured.[8]

Coloureds' organisationsEdit

  • Coloured Advisory Council
  • Coloured Council
  • Council for Coloured Affairs
  • Federal Coloured People's Party (FCPP)
  • South West Africa Coloured Organisation (SWACO)
  • South West Africa Coloured Peoples’ Bond (SWACPB)
  • South West African Coloured Teachers’ Association (SWACTA)
  • South West African Labour (SWALP)

Namibian colouredsEdit




  • Navin Morar, Entrepreneur and first President of the post-Apartheid chamber of commerce and industry. Though of Indian descent, he was classified as coloured. Indians had to receive special permission and travelling papers to enter the administered territory of South West Africa.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Norman Duncan, interviewed in the Cape Times (4 December 1996), in Erasmus, Coloured by history, 21.
  2. ^ Marginalization of Coloureds must end Archived 4 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "BLK Roots Workshop: The Seven Steps". 31 March 2012.
  4. ^ "77-1921".
  5. ^ "78-1922".
  6. ^ "Elections in Namibia".
  7. ^ A history of resistance in Namibia By Peter H. Katjavivi
  8. ^
  9. ^ Dierks, Klaus. "Biographies of Namibian Personalities, H". Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  10. ^ Dierks, Klaus. "Biographies of Namibian Personalities, J". Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  11. ^ Dierks, Klaus. "Biographies of Namibian Personalities, R". Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  12. ^ a b Dierks, Klaus. "Biographies of Namibian Personalities, B". Retrieved 7 October 2020.

External linksEdit