Angolan | Congolese

Photo credit: Cristopher Salas

Photo credit: Cristopher Salas

I identify myself as Angolan & Congolese and of Christian faith. I believe in Jesus. My Dad is from Angola and comes from the Bakongo tribe, on my Dad’s side of the family there all Angolan. My mum is from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

My Dad met my mum in Congo when his side of the family fled the Angola civil war, they met as friends and fell in love from a young age. after a few years of being together and having their first child together they decided to move to Spain. After a few years of living there, in 1998 I was born in Madrid, and they then had my little sister in 2001. After a few years of struggling in Spain my parents decided to move to England where I grew up. Things were different as I had to adapt to a whole different way of living. My parents both struggled to get jobs and on top of all the struggling, the government was also on my Dad and Mum’s back because papers needed to be done before we could be allowed to stay in this country permanently.

I grew up in more of a Congolese household and my Dad never told me he was from Angola, my Dad just told me he was from Congo and so was I, even though deep down I knew I was born in Spain and had other family roots leading to outside of Congo. As I grew older and studied history in school, I just said to people that I was Spanish/African as I was ashamed of my parent’s country. In school they failed to tell us that my ancestors were more than just slaves. I feel that had a big part of making me ashamed of being where I was from. At one point I started saying I was just Spanish. But then as I grew older and started doing my own research, I became proud of where I was from.

I realised I was mixed-race when I started dating my girlfriend, as she revealed that she was mixed-race. This made me want to start embracing my own culture. One day my family from London came over, and we were talking about Congo. My Uncle told me that I was half Angolan, I was confused because my Dad never mentioned that was from Angola. This was when I confronted him and asked why he has never his embraced his Angolan side? He started laughing and offered me no response. But this was the point I realised I was mixed-race. I know the outside world will see me as just Black, but skin colour and race are two different things.

The area I grew up in did have an effect of how I identified myself, because people in my area would just see me as African. Based on this I just viewed myself as African and nothing more, even though there was more to me. My parents didn’t combine their cultures, as my dad didn’t really embrace his culture, which meant that all my brothers and sisters in the family just embraced my mum’s culture. Now that I have identified that I come from 2 different countries, with different cultures. Although both countries are both tied and close by, the cultures are different. Day in day out I am learning to embrace my Angolan side more.

The challenges I have faced with having a mixed identity is that most people tell me what I am, even after me telling them where my roots come from. I have some people telling me that I am Spanish, others tell me I am just Congolese, and I am just trying to claim different cultures. Hearing all these things confuses me, which is why I feel by me speaking up and sharing my story so many more people will start to speak.

Race and cultural differences are not important to me when I make friends. My friends come in different shades and different backgrounds. My culture definitely has an influence of the types of food I eat. My mum often makes Congolese dishes which I have grown to love, based all the different spices and seasonings my mum uses. In terms of music I listen to any kind of songs but most of my songs have some sort of African influence.

Being mixed-race has enabled me to find so many other people in the same position as me and share the same struggles as other mixed-race people. Being mixed-race has affected how I blend into society. When I am with Congolese people, I try my hardest to relate more to Congolese people, but when I am around the Angolan side of my family, I try hard to blend in with them.

If I was to be born again, I would want to return as a radio presenter who’s made a living out of doing radio. This is what I do now, and I love it. Overall, I wouldn't change anything about my race.