Keffa, Keffer, Kefa...whats the Straight Dope?

Pronounced ‘Keffer’ or ‘Keffa’ I was always under the impression it was a derogatory term for a black South African, on par with the N-word. Danny calls Solomon it in Blood Diamond and he almost knocks the piss out of him. Today an English woman I just met (she was black) was telling me about her friend in London who is a ‘Keffer’, there’s no way she was insulting her friend and it didn’t dawn on me until she left so I couldn’t ask her. I Googled it but couldn’t find anything except it’s also a province in Ethiopia. Is it a derogatory slang word that was adopted and is now acceptable for use within that specific community? Does it mean something else entirely? Please noble readers, bust out that google-fu and tell me whats up.

I have always seen it spelled “kaffir” and understood it to originate in South Africa, where British colonists used it to refer to the natives. I believe that the practice spread to British India, too.

Here is all that has to say about it.

A starting point from Wikipedia: Kaffir.

Thanks guys, who’d have thought a word of abuse would have such a varied and complex history.

I think most of the classic words of abuse are like that. :wink: