The Portrait of Dreams

Melane Nkounkolo

Accepting yourself, the cards fate has dealt you, your true goals, can be a long and fascinating journey towards beauty.

1. Bio

An eclectic artist, she combines her love of music, singing, creativity and music production with different disciplines. With a degree in communication from the University of Applied Sciences in Cologne, she has worked as a singer for more than 20 years and is the founder of the platform Beautiful Colours, for the empowerment of strategies against racism and discrimination in all forms. An Africanist, she fights for the visibility of black and Afro-diasporic people living in Germany.

2. The power of a dream

I knew from early childhood that I wanted to be a singer and be on the stage. Not just to be seen and heard, but because music literally consumed me from within. It was my dream but I pushed it aside because society and the music business do not make things easy for a woman, especially a black woman, living in Germany. But that dream inevitably found its way. It has taken me years to realise that I am finally living what was once my dream. In a different form from the powerful and naive childhood dream, but everything I had fantasised about so much has finally come true.

3. My journey into real beauty

My path has been anything but linear. Coming from a poor family, no privileges, I often look back and wonder how I managed to stay on the straight and narrow. School certainly saved me and my mother’s determination for me to study, thinking of those of us left behind in Congo who could not learn to read or write. Many black families, when they migrate, are often so focused on being accepted that they forget their own potential. Paradoxically, meeting strangers is what opened my eyes to true beauty: it is priceless to see yourself through the eyes of someone who looks at you without prejudice, without being influenced by your past or an old idea of you. It is fascinating to discover the difference between how you feel and how a stranger sees you. But if that exchange is based on respect, it contains extraordinary beauty, waiting to be discovered.

4. What I learned and won’t let go

It is sad, but often many people simply do not accept the way others choose to live their lives. That is why it takes daily effort to nurture a mentality in which everyone has the right to exist. We could talk about sexism, misogyny, homophobia, queer and transphobia and more. But the point is simple: we should all be able to feel safe, exactly as we are. My wish for us women is that we should no longer have to be afraid of being a woman. I grew up in a culture where being a woman still does not have the same value as being a man. This must change, in African or Congolese culture without doubt, but also in all those other rigid structures, steeped in patriarchy, that are everywhere and defend the status quo by all means.

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