Viral video series explores coloured identity and plight of indigenous people


A new online series by two Cape Town filmmakers is tackling the complexities of the modern coloured experience and creating awareness of South Africa’s indigenous people.

Coloured Mentality
Filmmakers Kelly Eve Koopman and Sarah Summers explore the history and heritage of coloured people in South Africa in their Facebook web series Coloured Mentality. (Image: Facebook)

CD Anderson

A Facebook video series called Coloured Mentality explores coloured identity in modern South Africa. Tackling the often painful history and rich heritage of coloured people with honesty and humour, the series is proving to be a viral hit with South Africans.

Created by filmmakers Kelly Eve Koopman and Sarah Summers, the series carries interviews with well-known South Africans, including actress Denise Newman and musician Jitsvinger, about what it means to them to be coloured in modern South Africa.

Explaining the purpose of using celebrities to highlight these issues, Summers told IOL/Cape Argus that “our ideas of getting those figures was that they are well known and have an influence to engage in this conversation. A lot of the people that we’ve interviewed are people that are basically representing the coloured identity.”

The first episode, posted on 22 January, has had more than 40,000 views and almost 2,500 shares on the social network. The series consists of six short episodes that include interviews and analysis by Koopman and Summers.

Coloured or black?

The idea for the series came from the fact that, as Koopman says, conversations about coloured identity could sometimes be “awkward and uncomfortable”.

Often the most contentious aspect of any discussion about coloured identity is whether people identify more as coloured, with all the history and tradition behind the term, or as black in a way to connect politically with the rest of the country. “There are so many people who identify as (coloured) regardless of what the history is,” Summers told Cape Talk Radio, adding that the term could be seen as a more community-based one than some kind of legal ethnic classification.

Koopman reiterated this in the same interview, saying: “I grew up with parents very involved in the struggle. I grew up with black consciousness, but there is a part of me culturally that’s undeniable coloured. For me it’s a very strong cultural and personal identity but I can identify as politically black.”

Walking the Cape with the Khoisan

Most obviously, the coloured identity is still strongly linked to the heritage of the indigenous Khoisan people, whose own identity is often lost in the modern multi-diversity of South Africa. This is something Summers and Koopman want to explore further, beyond the realms of their web series.

The two are joining a group of Khoisan activists in an effort to highlight the Khoisan identity and raise awareness of the important heritage of South Africa’s indigenous people. The group is planning a 1,000km walk through historically significant points in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, from Fort Beaufort into the heart of Cape Town.

The walk begins on 18 February and will be the main focus of the next instalments of the Coloured Mentality series.

“When we started filming the documentary we realised that in all the conversations we were having there were so many areas that needed critical interrogation and conversation, where people were looking for a platform to discuss because there were so many facets to this,” Summers told IOL/Cape Argus.

For more information about Coloured Mentality and the awareness walk, visit the Coloured Mentality Facebook page.

Source: IOL/Cape Argus, Cape Talk Radio, Coloured Mentality Facebook page

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