Ernest Levi Tsoloane Kole successfully applied to be reclassified from African to Coloured in 1966. He was 26 years old.
A few months after he successfully applied to become coloured, Cole left for the United States, where he died in 1990 as a black man.
We don’t know why Cole decided to become coloured apart from the political motivations suggested by his friends and passed down in museum catalogues, Wikipedia, or reviews of his work. These are: a coloured ID card would mean less harassment when photographing Apartheid; it would make it easy to obtain a passport.
* Originally written for the exhibition “PASS-AGES: References & Footnotes” (curated by Gabi Ngcobo) in the offices of a former Pass Office in Johannesburg.