GROWING UP: I am originally from Congo. I was born in Southern Congo in Kolwezy. We left when I was young due to the war. We traveled from country to country. We lived in a refugee camp for a year in Zambia, Malawi, then Mozambique. We finally settled in South Africa when I was 14. My first language was French so when we got to South Africa I had to quickly start learning English. I went to high school and some university in South Africa then got a full ride to Claremont University where I got my B.A. in Media Communications. I was 23 when I moved to the US.
CURRENT GIG: I am currently a Brand Ambassador for different companies. I also do public speaking. I traveled around with a non-profit called Falling Whistles for 2 ½ years. I like to inspire, educate and to activate people to take a stand against injustice. I love inspiring people through storytelling and am curious about how companies get the brand out and communicate its message. Being a Brand Ambassador has me meeting and working with new people and in different environments and I love it.
EXPERIENCES WITH RACE: School in South Africa is an interesting place. My family moved there in ’96 – 3 years after Nelson Mandela became president. For me as a young teenager I never experienced racism. I didn’t even know it existed before moving to South Africa. We didn’t know we were to be looked down on because of our color. There was a lot of racial tension between students and even teachers. So making friends became difficult. You had the white South Africans looking down on you because you weren’t white and then black South Africans looking down on you because you don’t speak their language. It was an interesting dynamic. I made a few friends now and again. I treasure those experiences because I got to see things I’ve never seen before and I got to learn how to speak to people and how to make myself more like-able.
I’ve experienced racism in several ways. It’s more intense in South Africa and more subtle here in the US. In South Africa, I felt out of place and awkward, like it was my fault and I didn’t understand it, therefore I apologized a lot. As I grew up, I understood it had nothing to do with me, who I was, but they projected their views on me.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I am a really open and loving person. I love music and playing the drums.
Photographed by Renee McMahon