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I Am Mixed, What’s Your Tradition?
Colette Kabeya
Colette Kabeya Wa-Tshunza

You hear about black-American problems, you hear about destruction and corruption in the motherland – but you hardly hear about the story of mixed people…

My name is Colette Ngalula Kabeya Wa-Tshunza. A beautiful name right? Yeah, I know and I am sure it has a deeper meaning, just too bad that I wouldn’t know about it… I am the second daughter of a German woman and an African man, to be more exact a Congolese man. I am 29 years old and did live my whole life in Berlin, Germany. As you can imagine, the colour of my skin is brown, dark brown, black – you choose, what I know for sure is that I am not white – well it’s a start.

I grew up in Germany, I speak German, I eat German (whereby my preference lies in African, Arabic, Turkish or what you call oriental food), I dream in German, I work here, I know German people whereby my friends come from everywhere but Germany. And still I step outside and am not German. I am black, I am:

* A stranger when it comes to my neighbours,
* an American when it comes to “black music” and I surely can sing, as it is in my veins
* the black American woman who surely can shoot a loop and run like there is no tomorrow, cause this is what black people can do…
* the German when I speak on the phone to strangers who don’t know my name, and quickly turn into an African when they hear my name
* German/European when I step into an Afro-Shop, to buy stuff for my hair plantains and so on…
* a stranger when German people see me on the street, and an astonishingly intelligent one when I open my mouth – “You speak so well German already…” (not even having a clue how long I’ve been here, cause the thought of me being born here is unacceptable…)
* a stupid n****r, when it comes to racism…
* the attitude having black woman, when it comes to black man
* the black exotic pearl when it comes to white man
* the Nubian princess when it comes to TV-Commercial

So all in all I am the “German Congolese black mixed brown European American an attitude having n****r female who sings dancing while running like hell to shoot a loop…”

And now somebody please tell me why I am confused? Why do I feel homeless? Why don’t I know who I am? Any ideas?

Deep down inside I always felt like the proud African woman, which was never a hard thing to do, as I wasn’t accepted for the person I was in this white community; until I went to Africa, the Motherland. It was one of the most important experiences in my life. It did hurt so much and then again freed my soul on the other hand. Hurting, because I didn’t find what I was looking for – HOME. But I found the way to inner peace, I found the path to the goal of being able to accept me for the person that I am – Colette Ngalula Kabeya Wa- Tshunza, able to walk the walk of “Home is where my heart is”! Also at times I loose track and loose myself…

Racism? Oh yes, big time – I couldn’t tell you where it is tougher, here in Germany or in Africa when it comes to racism regarding a mixed person…

What I am trying to say with all that is that even though it shouldn’t matter, where one person is coming from, it is not always that simple. I don’t know anything about Congolese tradition, I don’t know Lingala, Tchiluba even though these are my languages, I don’t know about the Moluba even though I am one, I don’t know the procedures when it comes to marriage, I don’t know how to cook African food.

I already hear you saying – you are old enough, you can learn, read, study, ask people. Of course I can and there will be no other way. But I shouldn’t be supposed to do this by myself – this is one reason why I am here and one reason why I want to share my story with you. It is not fair!

But then again who said that life was fair right? And I hope that one day I will reach the point where I can say with ALL my heart it is not important, the most important thing is for all of us to get along and respect each other.

But right now, that is not totally filling the emptiness in my heart when I hear words like: this is typical Congolese, or typical this and that, or when black people would look strange at me, because I have a white mother, and white people flee from me because I am black…

Believe me I am trying hard, each and every day over and over again! And I know I’ll get there one day, as I am already on my way… I can feel it, I do believe it and I almost can touch it, but on rainy days doubts are taking over, they make me angry, fill my heart with bad thoughts, make me aggressive and sad, but the next day the sun is shining again…

I am just one in a million at least here in this country. And nobody is telling our story. You hear about black-American problems, you hear about destruction and corruption in the motherland – but you hardly hear about the story of mixed people… And believe me our “race” (I am talking about mixed people) learned to live with that, we learned to get along with the fact of not being fully accepted whether by black people, nor by white people…

But please don’t get me wrong, this is not to blame anybody, this is to be heard, this to show, that we do exist! Did you know about it? Did you ever think about it?

Did you know that I became black at the age of 13? But that is another story…

This article first appeared on


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