MARCH 2019

With Charred Ous, I want to make visible the unseen forces, both historical and emotional, that contribute towards a charou culture in South Africa. Charou, a word that comes from Durban and Cape Town slang, refers to working class, ‘raw people’ of Indian origin. Charous, like most labels for racialised peoples, was initially used as a derogatory term. It is commonly attributed to the internalisation of apartheid racial hierarchies by Indian communities. Its etymology comes from the words ‘charred’ and ‘ous’ [ouens]. Who did the charring? What does it mean to be burnt? Why are ‘ous’ the primary referent? Who is left out, or excluded from being ‘a charou’? By looking at the hybridity of us -a people with a fragmented sense of self forcibly consolidated under the rainbow and understood from the outside in -I want to unpack the strange and conventional ways this diasporic culture was created, and the melancholy associated with its maintenance.