If you were in a “mixed-race” relationship (as people would call it) in South Africa during Apartheid, you would most likely get arrested or beaten as it was considered a crime.

However the year is 2017 and the world is changing and interracial relationships are not that uncommon.

Apartheid is long gone and multi ethnic relationships are *flourishing (winning in your current situation. It means you are on top of your game) especially for a country that’s had a deeply troubled history of slavery, racism and oppression.

So, here’s a brief background on how it all began…

The year was 1938 and the Apartheid laws were as brutal as ever. The National Party banned interracial intimate relationships in South Africa, in order to maintain its racial boundaries and racial ‘purity’.

Racial classification under Apartheid was not based on biology, but on social perception and one’s association. A woman who married a man of another race was classified as being of his race.

Her choice of husband defined her race.

Therefore if a white man married a woman of another race he then took on her race.

His choice had marked him, in the eyes of white Apartheid South Africa, as non-white.

This didn’t stop people from actually pursuing the one’s they loved because for them; it wasn’t about skin colour but rather the love you felt for that person.

A notable figure in history who did just that was Sir Seretse Khama.

The son of the ruler of Bechuanaland, which later became Botswana.

After his father died, Khama went to school in England and this is where he met his future wife; Ruth Williams.

Several members of the South African government and also of Khama’s tribe were outraged by the marriage, banning Khama from eventually becoming chief and taking over his late father’s position…

Only after Khama agreed to renounce the tribal throne was he and his bride allowed into Botswana. 

Awesome plot twist! When the region then gained independence, Khama became the country’s first president and his wife Ruth Williams was known to be an impressive first lady. They also went on to have some beautiful kids… 


Another example of a couple breaking the barriers of marriage during Apartheid is Trevor Noah’s parents.

His mother, Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah, is black and of Xhosa ethnicity and his father, Robert, is white and of Swiss German ethnicity.

His parents’ relationship was illegal at the time of his birth under apartheid.

The sad thing is because of these laws; his mother was jailed and fined by the South African white minority government, with his father using his white male privilege and ultimately leaving South Africa to go back to Switzerland.

Noah has been really honest about how his Xhosa mother paid the greater price for her relationship with a white man…

Not only did she face social stigma and arrest, she was also left to raise Noah alone.

Related Article: Why millennials need to understand the Psychology of Romantic Love

Here are the 5 of the most influential interracial couples in South Africa:

1. J’Something and his wife Cordelia ‘Coco’ Godi.

She ain’t my main thang … she ain’t my side thang … she’s my ONLY thang 😍

A post shared by J’Something™ (@jsomethingmusic) on

I am lucky. Lucky to have your trust. Lucky to have your love. Lucky to have your eyes. Lucky to have ALL of you 😍#ThrowBack

A post shared by J’Something™ (@jsomethingmusic) on

2. Zuraida Jardine and husband, Josh Lindberg.

@josh_lindberg 🌀 thank you 🌀

A post shared by Z U R A🌻D A (@zuraidajardine) on

3. Nkosi Zwelivelile and wife, Nkosikazi Nosekeni Rabia Mandela…

(It doesn’t get more powerful than the grandson of Nelson Mandela.)

With Nkosikazi Nosekeni @rabiaclarke #sona2017 #parliament #capetown #redcarpet #moments w

A post shared by Nkosi Zwelivelile (@nkosizwelivelile) on

4. Mmusi Maimane and wife, Natalie Maimane

Meet #MmusiMaimane’s wife. More on All4Women.co.za #DemocraticAlliance #Mmusi #Family #CelebNews

A post shared by all4women (@all4womensa) on

5. Siya Kolisi and wife, Rachel Kolisi

A year ago noManci @rachel_kolisi ka @kolisilw #ezithandwandim

A post shared by Siya Kolisi (@siya_kolisi_the_bear) on

Three years ago already 😳 #tb

A post shared by Rachel Kolisi (@rachel_kolisi) on

The couple faced a lot of backlash when just last year a Facebook user decided to ensue a racist rant against the happy couple. He went on to bash their wedding by making this comment: “I pray that this does not happen to my family. Honest to God, I would not know what to do.”

The rant continued with the man saying, “Problem with mixed breeding is that the worst of the inferior bloodline becomes dominant.”

The racism continued for a while, with the man’s Facebook friends chiming in but their so called fun soon came to an end when other Facebook users restored the faith in humanity by not only reporting him, but posting numerous images on their social media showing support to the interracial couple and their family.

Elizabeth Aura McClintock, is a sociology professor at the University of Notre Dame and this is her stance on interracial relationships:

“Given the relative scarcity of interracial relationships, sociologists have long sought to explain why they happen.

That is, how and why do some couples overcome the substantial barriers to such unions?”

“One strain of research argues that interracial marriages represent a form of “race-status exchange” in which the white partner leverages his or her “higher” racial status to attract a minority partner with higher education or income…” she says.

Engaging in race-status exchange means that both partners perceive whiteness as better and more desirable—which implies at least some degree of internalized racism. Yet it seems intuitive that it is the least racist individuals who would be most likely to enter interracial unions…

Indeed, politically conservative individuals (including minorities) express the strongest preference for white partners. In general, interracial daters are less traditional and more politically and culturally progressive. In fact, much of the evidence seemingly in support of race-status exchange theory may actually result from miss-specified statistical models.”

Interracial couple, William Lohrmann and his girlfriend Lungi Zakwe had this to say about their relationship…

(Williams father is English and his mother is Afrikaans and his girlfriend Lungi Zakwe’s parents consists of a Xhosa mother and Zulu father)

The couple has been together for 2 years, despite their race and different cultural backgrounds they never let anything jeopardize their relationship.

Lungi said that people should start seeing interracial couples as normal couples and that there is nothing extraordinary about them.

“It shouldn’t be a thing, people should see interracial relationships as a normal thing, I always cringe when people don’t get this, we are just real about our feelings and we are in love.” she said.

Today we have so many interracial couples in South Africa as well as all over the world and there are no laws that prohibits them to be together.

It is no longer a foreign thing to be in a relationship with someone from another race. It works as long as the two souls love each other and achieve happiness; nothing else should matter.

Elizabeth Aura McClintock, Ph.D., is a professor at the University of Notre Dame. She received her Ph.D. from Stanford and her B.A. from Princeton. She researches mating selection, gender, sexuality, older-age dating, among many other areas.

– Zuhaa Isaacs

Categories: Relationships