South African Coloured group 

This group had roots in contacts between various Black populations and the first European immigrants. They were mostly agricultural or industrial workers.  Mainly Afrikaans speaking, they made up about 10% of the country’s population and their numbers were increasing quickly. The Métis were poor and discriminated against as a social group. They were also victims of unemployment and tuberculosis. They were often referred to as “Coloureds”, the “Coloured”.


In addition to Chinese, Malaysian and Indonesian workers, this group consisted mainly of immigrants from India who had come to work on farms in the 1860s. The remained in South Africa until the end of their employment contract, and they settled in cities where they had enviable economic success. In 1980, the represented about 3% of the country’s population. They were also victims of segregation.  Following the example of Ghandi who had spent some time in South Africa, they joined together to fight against these measures.

Migrant workers

This population consisted mainly of men from countries around South Africa. They worked in mines, agriculture or industrial companies. They were hired on a temporary basis for specific projects. The companies arranged for them to live in barracks. The actual number of these migrant workers is unknown.

Author:  Marianne Giguère

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