Heritage Month: ‘Not all coloured people are angry’ … and others things you may not know about people of mixed race

Shanie Sirawan of Marburg is proud of her roots.

COLOURED people are often perceived as either extremely funny or overly angry and aggressive – or a combination of both – which is something many people from other ethnic backgrounds perhaps find confusing and thus don’t always fully understand them, says Shanie Sirawan (26) of Marburg.

Some say people of mixed race have an obsession with ‘not being black’ but Shanie begs to differ.

People are generally curious as to how coloured people identify themselves and what do they do when it comes to culture and tradition.

Shanie, who has Indian, Zulu and caucasian blood running through her veins, says there is more to coloured people than what meets the eye. Much more.

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Her parents are both coloured, but in slightly different ways.

“’My mother’s father is Indian and her mother is Zulu. My father’s father is also Indian, and his mother is coloured. So, that is how I became part of the coloured community,” she said.

“What I feel most people don’t know about coloured people is that not all of them are rude. Each ethnic group has people who behave in different ways, they all have their ‘crazies’, not only people from my race,” she laughed.

Shanie Sirawan with her mom Cynthia Govender.

The coloured community comes from diverse origins which brings up a lot of questions, such as what is their heritage, their belief systems, what traditions do they practice, and how do they celebrate Heritage Day.

Shanie said different families have different traditions because not everyone is ‘coloured’ in the same way.

“So, if your father is white and mine is black that doesn’t mean we will celebrate Heritage Day the same way just because we’re both coloured,” she explained.

“My family and I don’t celebrate Heritage Day but we will be braaing on the day. It will be up to me whether I want to wear an Indian or a Zulu traditional attire on the day, but I can wear any because I’m coloured,” giggled Shanie.

Shanie Sirawan (left) with members of her family.

Shanie was raised in Stick Farm, Hibberdene but now lives in Marburg.

She said the memory she has of home in Stick Farm is of the friendly and supportive group of people who live there.

“’I remember my grandmother’s friends passing by our house and screaming ‘sawubona khulu kaShanie’ (good day Shanie’s grandmother). Where I now stay, there is nothing like that, there is no ubuntu (humanity). Everyone is just busy with their own lives,” she said.

Most people from different cultural backgrounds have that one traditional dish they all share as a family.

Shanie said she and her family love Indian cuisine.

Shanie Sirawan (third from left) with her cousins.

“’Though my family is coloured, we love Indian traditional food. For me Heritage Day is about celebrating our roots, celebrating the things we love about being Indian, coloured, black or white.”

Shanie feels that this Heritage Day people should acknowledge the fact that we are one rainbow nation.

“We all have to bring to the table our unique cultures, traditions and beliefs which serve as the colours of the rainbow nation, making our country rich in diversity,” she said.

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