Team SA certainly did us proud at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil. One of the highlights was Wayde van Niekerk’s victory when he won a gold medal and broke the world record for the men’s 400m sprint. This great South African achievement quickly turned into a racial debate when people started calling it a “victory for the coloured community”. Many shared this sentiment and I agree with some of the viewsthat were opined. As a woman of colour myself that originated from the Cape Flats, I could identify with these writers.
However, many also believed that it was wrong for coloureds to claim Van Niekerk’s victory as their own or to say that he represented the coloured community. This is because of the apartheid classification of people with mixed heritage decades ago. These views, too, I understand.
With all the racial debate surrounding Van Niekerk’s win and articles written about it, nowhere did I see anyone asking the man himself how he felt representing the coloured community or if he even felt that he did. Instead, the media, and Facebook and Twitter “experts” were speaking for him. Some are calling him coloured and others are saying he is black. We don’t know what he identifies himself as, and until then nobody can claim that he represents any racial or ethnic group. [Read more…]