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The coloureds one side and the blacks one side.

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Ithra and Tumelo have received the news that they have secured junior doctor placements in the same hospital - over 1,km away in Cape Town. Throughout their friendship both have had other relationships, and both have dated outside their races before - but both feel that they received fewer stares when they had white partners. But Blasian is a growing social media tag used by black or Asian people in relationships with one another - sometimes documenting the specific challenges they face. Grandpa Ashraf, in a wheelchair, wears a traditional Islamic thobe and cap.

Ithra and her sisters - who have now made their way from her bedroom where they were huddled over a computer waiting for the junior doctor posting - worry that their mother's honesty about race may be received badly, especially on social media, when this story is published.

It's the day of the big meeting and Tumelo's mum, Modjadji, has gone all out. His girlfriend Ithra and her family are coming over for Saturday lunch.

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As she's describing how she campaigned against apartheid, alongside black activists, there's a sudden screaming from upstairs. And that means not compromising on eating chicken feet and tripe, or drinking alcohol, in front of people who may not be used to it. When Granny Washiela says "Rainbow Nation" she raises her eyebrows and smiles ironically. At first Ithra didn't know what had happened. She's spent the morning preparing the mopane worms, tripe and chicken's feet. Then she adds: "You know we were very racist, I am going to be honest with you, because we come from apartheid and that stigma is always there.

Then the conversation s, and soon it turns to those not at the table - namely, Ithra's grandparents. At school, because we lived in what was known as a coloured area and there weren't a lot of blacks around us She repeats some of the things she had told me earlier, but as Rayana finishes, Tumelo picks her up on a phrase she has used.

She wants her children to have that freedom, though she doesn't want them to abandon their culture. I think it is a post-apartheid thing, people have a hierarchy that was built up in their head. It had been almost three months.

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But it's strange, when it comes to your own family, then it's a different scenario and you have to accept It's the Rainbow Nation. Would they prefer Ithra to be dating someone of her own culture? It will be the first time his black family and her Asian-origin family have met. Ithra's family come from Cape Malay, a community of mixed-Asian ethnicities who have been in South Africa for generations. He's wearing a casual T-shirt and jeans, but for once he's looking agitated.

The rest of the population divides more or less equally into white and mixed-race. Ithra, Rayana and her husband and Ithra's sisters arrive holding flowers and deep pans containing Asian food: biryani and tandoori chicken. It wasn't their choice not to talk, they say, it was Ithra's. She's also bought halal meat especially.

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At the home of Ithra's grandparents, Washiela and Ashraf, a livestream from Mecca plays on the TV in the background and large calligraphy prints of verses of the Koran are framed on the walls. How open am I really?

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Apartheid, South Africa's government-sanctioned segregation of races, officially ended in when Nelson Mandela became president. It's late and Ithra and Tumelo, both 24, are both at the end of their final year of medical school at Wits University in Johannesburg. Cape Town! How could we be part of such a cruel and unfair system - and you allowed it? Paula Quinsee, a relationship coach from Johannesburg, says Blasian couples face particular challenges. The tiered levels of apartheid meant that Indian and mixed-race people were given preferential treatment, compared to black people.

They became friends almost immediately in their first year and started going out in their third year. And I think this generation, this is their problem - they'll sort it out. Would it have made a difference if Ithra was with a white guy instead of a black guy?

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But relationships between black people and the country's Asian population remain quite rare - and the approval of parents, and grandparents, is not a given. It sits differently. As his mother adds garlic powder to the mopane worms frying on the stove behind him, Tumelo fidgets in his swivel chair. Ithra and her four sisters mill around in the background, speaking over each other as they cut fruit, boil tea and flip pancakes, in an almost synchronised dance that enables them to avoid bumping into each other.

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Since the end of apartheid - and even for some years before that - young South Africans have been free to date whoever they want. The news came with a 'they'," Rayana exclaims. Approval of interracial marriage among the mixed-race and Indian communities actually fell in the 12 years to At the same time, the of interracial marriages is increasing. Approval rates among white people rose ificantly over this period, though they are still more negative than others about interracial marriage. The whites one side. Attitudes to interracial relationships are an indicator of how far South Africans have travelled in terms of integration and addressing prejudices, according to a report from the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation IJRbut the data suggests that there has been little progress.

You're not going to get, like, pizza. Grandpa Ashraf interjects, "No, that is being racist, actually.

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Modjadji throws her arms around Rayana. According to the census, three-quarters of South Africa's population is black, and Asians make up just 2.

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Actually in my view things got a little bit worse than what we thought," he says. Relationships between black and Asian South Africans remain uncommon, though. If it's interracial, it's a person of colour with a white person. It started with a mass exodus from the wider family Whatsapp group. But soon they will be moving away together to a new city. Every generation has its own problem. We're gonna get roasted!

With a black guy. This generation will resolve it. There might be a future between Ithra and Tumelo, and that's maybe what it is," she hesitates. As the families sit down to eat, Tumelo's brother recites a Christian prayer. And now it's a relationship. But it was never a moment. Rayana moved back to Johannesburg from Kenya as a single mother and raised her daughters alone until she remarried. While she has always been supportive of her daughter dating a black guy, something suddenly feels different.

Now when you have that kind of purpose, of course I'm going to have kids that I've raised that are free of that reality but I'm also human and I come from a certain community so it does go deeper. So what are the replacements? His wife asks me to sit next to her on the leather couch as I ask why they haven't spoken to their granddaughter for months.

It's where she decided to stay for university and where she would meet Tumelo, who was born in the city. Born in Kenya to an Indian father, Ithra moved back to her mother's home country - to Johannesburg - at the age of six. And there is another factor. I never interacted with Indians until very late in my life, when I was working. There's no way she could have been allowed to bring home a man of another race she says.

I remember being so angry with my parents and my grandparents for not doing something about it. That would have been unheard of. It's a big day. My parents wouldn't have stepped into a black person's home. In a quiet moment, just before Ithra's stepdad offers to conclude lunch with a Muslim prayer, Tumelo tells me that he will visit Ithra's grandparents before the move to Cape Town.

Until now Ithra and Tumelo have lived at home, supervised by their families. It will never go away. Her mother, Rayana, had actively opposed and organised against apartheid. I always encouraged the girls to be open about everything. It was also the year the couple were born - which makes them part of the so-called Born Free generation. At least black and white people in relationships with each other are both likely to come from Christian families, while in Blasian relationships religion is added to other cultural barriers.

Ithra had a liberal upbringing. When we met, Ithra hadn't spoken to her grandmother Washiela since that moment. Ithra's sister Taleah emerges at the bottom of the stairs. She's texted to say they are minutes away. Earlier in the week, when I met Tumelo and Ithra near Rosebank mall in Johannesburg, they'd explained that two pivotal things were about to happen: they were going to find out whether they would get junior doctor placements together in Cape Town - and they were going to introduce their parents.

A study by North-West University in Mahikeng showed that in only one marriage in involved people of different races, but by it had become about one in That's 0. But not everyone was ready for her relationship with Tumelo. They are also free to love whomever they want, at least in theory. Later, Tumelo's father Phuti - a quiet man who has remained silent for most of the lunch - speaks up native Oklahoma men dating black women advice for the Born Frees at the table.

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Lee is a middle class white male with no black female friends, rare interactions with black families growing up, and who states his interactions with black women only consist of work-related experiences.


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