Russian/French | Rwandese

I identify as mixed African and European & straight. I believe in a higher power but don’t follow any religions. My Mom is Rwandese and Dad is half Russian & half French. They met in Rwanda. I grew up in Rwanda, Zambia, Tanzania and South Africa.

I guess being mixed wasn’t something I thought about too much growing up in international/ex-pat communities. But as a really young girl in Rwanda, I remember another kid on the street pointing and shouting/calling me a ‘Muzungu’ – White person. When my aunts and mom told me, I got really upset. Later, as a teenager (14 years old) when I was in Mid high school in South Africa a fellow student asked me if I saw myself as White or Black. I was confused with the question and had no idea how to answer. Moving schools made you discover something new about yourself, trying to make friends or fit in with an accent and coming from another country always came with a new realisation.

My friendship group is very diverse. Throughout school and adult life, I’ve had friends of all races and backgrounds, I get along with most people and I never base a friendship on anything other than a mutual connection. I sometimes feel like I have two or three completely different circle of friends (because of hobbies, languages and culture relations) and wonder what it would be like if they all came together. I want to be able to surround myself with people who don’t box me in a category. Race does not play a role in who I date, but as I’ve grown older I’ve realized that culture background is very important to me.

I do think that mixed-race people get boxed into certain categories. A term I do not light is ‘light-skinned’. My Black/African friends have called me that, but I’ve had someone call me that as negative term. I think some races can have negative attitudes towards mixed-race people, thinking they have best of both worlds. When we sometimes feel like we don’t belong in either world.

Growing up in many parts of Africa was hard and I remember being called ‘Muzungu’ and feeling like I didn’t belong. Even now with a Rwandese passport I am not considered a true Rwandese to many. When I meet someone for the first time I enjoy playing ‘guess where I’m from’ and I like hearing where people think I’m from. My parents showed me that love has no colour.

If I were to be born again I would return exactly as I am. And embrace my mixed genes more and makes the most of it. The future of mixed-race is more colourful and even more spread out. I hope that border and nationalities become less important. Maybe being mixed won’t be so special but that’s a good thing.