Yes, I am Congolese; yes, I am gay; and yes, my family know! Well, most of my family… I was born in Kinshasa and raised in the nitty gritty streets of London town, and I now live and work in Manchester.
I am a Womanist on some days, a Black Feminist on other days, and at times just a feminist. Whilst my principal understanding of feminism and gender inequalities have come from reading works by Black and white American and European women (Alice Walker, Andrea Dworkin et al), my views and experiences on gender, and in fact all social inequalities, have been heavily influenced by my Congolese upbringing.
My love for Kinshasa, and Congo, is evident in all the aspects of my life. From the prophetess Vita Kimpa, to the Goddess of Rhumba Mbilia Bel, I draw my inspiration from the lives and works of these women.
I am interested in the pre-colonial and post-colonial history of Congo; especially the practices of women-to-women relationships, and the overall histories and stories of Congolese women.
As a Black woman growing up in Britain, I am interested in the diverse experiences of race and where they intersect with gender, sexuality and religion. Although I do not follow any religions, I grew up in a Pentecostal household and as such, recognise and respect the need for religion in the lives of oppressed people.
By trade, I am a freelance interpreter and translator with a Post Graduate Certificate in Principals and Practices of Translation. I translate texts from French and Lingala into English; and I provide face-to-face interpreting for public service providers working mostly with Congolese and French-speaking Africans.
I am Co- Founder of Rainbow Noir, a safe space created for and by LGBTQ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer) people of colour (POC) in Manchester. Rainbow Noir aims to give space for people to celebrate their cultural heritage and multiple identities; offers advice, support and signposting to appropriate services; develop self-confidence and a positive sense of self and identity through socialising in the group and active participation.
I am a volunteer at Lisapo – The Congolese Tales an oral history project that will record and preserve the stories of Congolese people in Greater Manchester. As well as providing my own oral history, I have conducted and transcribed several of the Congolese oral history interviews in English, French and Lingala. I represented the Lisapo project as a spoken word artist at the Platforma Refugee Festival in October 2013.
This blog is a safe space – not a classroom – for me to talk about, celebrate and share my multiple experiences and identities as a young, gay, Congolese woman. This includes issues that affect LGBTQ people of colour, mental health and well-being, natural hair (almost three years since the creamy crack!), popular culture,food, music and everything in between. Pet peeve: Africa is NOT a country!