British | Lesotho

Lebona Vernon.jpg

I was born in Cuba and later moved to South Africa with my mum who remarried. We then moved to Wales where I learnt to speak English. When my sister was born we moved to Rwanda but were then evacuated due to the genocide, we moved around various parts Africa after this; Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania. I studied in a mix of American & British schools. 
I identify myself as a third culture kid, I’m of mixed race heritage and multilingual. Being mixed race in International schools in Africa was very common, however when you travel out of the closed international communities and met with the locals I was deemed a white person. There is a term in Uganda “mzungu” which means ghost or traveller. 
It was only until I moved to the UK I saw that mixed race was deemed a big thing. I grew up identifying myself as half caste, when I came to the UK I was told I couldn’t say that. The first time I came to grips with my background is when we moved to Wales, on my first day at school kids would come up to me and rub my skin and ask if I was dirty because they had never seen a mixed-race person before. I was the only person of colour in my school. I remember my mum one day chasing a school bus full of kids, apparently, they had made a racist comment. I’ve come to understand that racism had been taught to them, no child is born racist.. When I went back to Africa I again was against immersed in mixes of cultures such as Japanese, white & black. It helped me to form my sense of identity as it was normal to have a mixed-race heritage.
I’ve experienced racism from black people as well, which is something you don’t hear as much. I think for me this is something that resonates the most as I identify as being part black, an example of this is being called a ghost which is a throwback to colonial times.
One of the best experiences I had is when I was at school, it was UN day. I was representing Lesutu. It was the first time I was really proud of my heritage, I was explaining facts about the country as no one knew where it was.