The origins of the name Kaffirs to describe a race group in Sri Lanka were probably much the same as for others from Southern and Eastern Africa – adopted from the Arabs by the Portuguese in their slave trading, and then taken over from the Portuguese by the British at the same time as they absorbed some Portuguese areas into the Empire. The etymology is interesting, and it is not clear whether the original pre-Islamic meaning of ‘one who hides or covers’ was taken, or the subsequent extension which meant ‘unbelievers’.
Anyway, there is a major difference regarding the term in Sri Lanka as compared with Africa. There, the group have embraced the name, continue to use it, and are proud of it.
In South Africa the term is skated around with quite ridiculous and unnecessary delicacy. Imagine the reaction in this country to a…
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