Seldom can one find a more warm-hearted, cheerful race than the Cape Coloureds. Originally spawned from the white settlers and Malaysian slaves mixing with the local Khoisan and Xhosa people, with some slaves from India thrown into the melting pot, they were marginalised, as were all non-Whites under the apartheid government.
That didn’t stop their irrepressible good humour and sense of fun. They love to laugh and, if they can’t find something to laugh at, they will make something.
Paralleling their sense of humour is their warm compassion and passion for God.
Their language is often hilarious; sometimes deliberately so, at others, quite unconsciously.
We were at a cricket match on a sweltering hot day and a Coloured ice cream vendor was walking up and down between the stands shouting, “Ice cream! Ice cream! You scream, I bring.”
I describe, in my book, God in the ICU, how a Coloured gentleman was brought into the Emergency Room apparently deeply unconscious. It was just a week after the world’s first heart transplant. As the doctors were puzzling about the diagnosis, he startled them by sitting bolt upright, his eyes wide open, put his hand across his chest and said, “Gimmee a new heart, Doc.” before sinking back into the trolley on which he arrived.
They are also famous for their malapropisms. When I was doing my maternity training, the terminology was a little different to now. There was no such thing as the rather euphemistic “termination of pregnancy”. If a woman suffered a spontaneous abortion, it was called a “miscarriage”. An “abortion” implied that it was induced through interference.
The sister in the maternity hospital was taking an obstetric history from a Coloured lady.
“You say this is your fifth pregnancy? So you’ve got four children.”
“No, ma’am, three.” She fixed the sister with the look of a schoolteacher about to explain something to a rather backward scholar. Rolling her rrrrs she continued. “I had thrree childrren and I got prregnant again. But when I was six months, I started getting these contraptions. They rrushed me to the hospital, but it was too late and I missed my carriage!”