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Now That We Are Free: Coloured Communities in a Democratic South Africa

Wilmot James, Daria Caliguire, and Kerry Cullinan, editors
ISBN: 978-1-55587-693-7
1996/147 pages
Published in association with the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA)


Under apartheid, coloured people in South Africa were not "white enough." Now, some fear that they are not "black enough" to benefit from a democratic South Africa, as perhaps reflected in the recent local elections in the Western Cape. How in fact do coloured communities fit into the "rainbow nation" described by President Nelson Mandela in the opening chapter of this book? More generally, how can the individual interests of distinct racial or ethnic communities be served without endangering the broader enterprise of creating and managing national unity?

These are among the concerns addressed in Now That We Are Free. In the context of heightened racial tensions between coloured and black South Africans who often feel that they are competing for the same scarce resources the book poses challenges for both the government of national unity and the country's citizens. The authors share the goal of a new, democratic South Africa in which all individuals and groups have the space to explore their ethnic identities; and in which there are communities of South Africans, not closeted, racially defined group areas.


Wilmot James, executive director of IDASA (Institute for Democracy in South Africa), is also honorary professor of sociology at the University of Cape Town. Daria Caliguire is a researcher and analyst at IDASA. Kerry Cullinan is a media coordinator at IDASA.


  • The Context—Nelson Mandela; Daria Caliguire; Irvin Kinnes.
  • Making Sense of the Coloured Vote—Brian Williams; Jeremy Seekings; Wilmot James; Yunus Carrim.
  • Identity Questions in the Coloured Communities—Ebrahim Rasool; Peter Marais; Julian Sonn.
  • Affirmative Action and Equity—Howard Gabriels; Philip Black and Valerie Flanagan; Mamphela Ramphele.
  • Non-Racialism—Hermann Giliomee; Barbara Masekela; Neville Alexander.
  • Comparative Perspectives/Canada—Heribert Adam and Kogila Moodley;
  • Britain—Kamlesh Bahl;
  • Brazil—Fernando Rosa Ribeiro;
  • Malaysia—Mavis Putchucheary.
  • Conclusion—Wilmot James and Daria Caliguire.
  • Postscript, July 1996—Kerry Cullinan.

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