Tony Ehrenreich wants the term 'coloured' be replaced with 'Camisa'. File picture: Jason Boud

Cape Town - Former Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) leader for the Western Cape Tony Ehrenreich has penned an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, requesting that the term 'coloured' be replaced with 'Camisa'.

In the letter, written in his personal capacity, Ehrenreich attempted to explain the "heritage of the 'coloured people'" prior to Heritage Day. 

"I write this letter to you as an anti-apartheid and anti-colonial activist in South Africa, under the banner of the ANC. I am a black South African, I am an African by history and by affinity and I am from the cultural lineage of the Xan and the various additions to the blood line, from the historical developments of South Africa."

He slammed the 'de-Africanisation' of South Africa's mixed-race population, calling it inaccurate.

"The de-africanisation of Coloured people is accordingly inaccurate in the South African experience of colonialism and apartheid. The effect of this marginalisation is leading to the fragmentation of the Coloured Community, and the host of societal and political challenges that we have seen. Let this Heritage Day be the last one that sees the coloured community excluded from their rightful place in the family of African cultures that make up the Rainbow Nation. We ask for a consultative process that leads to the correction of this historical and cultural anomaly in South Africa."

"Coloureds have our roots in the African Continent and experienced the oppression of black people," he said, adding that the ruling party had defined African "as someone who has at least one forbearer from the African Continent".

Ehrenreich went on to explain why the term 'coloured' should be replaced with Camisa. His letter said he deemed the former as a "derogatory construct of the apartheid racial separation of people".

"We are a growing culture that has a big part of its origins at the mouth of the Camisa river, where there was a bustling multi-cultural and multi-national trade station. This term Camisa, which referred to the sweet waters that emerged from this river, more accurately covers our cultural identity, and we prefer that reference to our cultural  identity."

Ehrenreich is not the only one who has called for the term to be scrapped.

In December last year, the Khoisan liberation and mass movement demanded that government officially recognise their community as the first citizens in South Africa. 

They also requested that the government make their language official, and called on the "land act" to be scrapped or amended. 

"Let us abolish this title called coloured with immediate effect; let us engage these people so that they can go back to who they authentically are," said the group's national co-ordinator Anthony Philip.

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