I met Zolana for our conversation in the American Diner in the ZKM Karlsruhe.
Zolana was born in Darmstadt. His parents come from Congo-Kinshasa. Zolana’s father had decided to accept a stipend from the University of Darmstadt. At the age of four, after his father had finished his studies, Zolana and his parents had to go back to Congo-Kinshasa. There his father wanted to use his experience and knowledge he had gained in Germany to improve living conditions in his home country.
To escape the very unstable political times under Mobutu, Zolana came back to Germany in 2002 to go to university and to stay. Zolana is happily married to a German woman.
Martin: Zolana, you were born in Germany, have spent the majority of your childhood and adolescence in Congo-Kinshasa, and then you came back to Germany as a young adult. You have the German citizenship. How has this shaped you as a person?
Zolana: I have experienced two different cultures, so I know them well and live with the best of both. I would consider myself a world citizen, since I got to know many different people and cultures during my travels to many different continents. And also because of the academic standing of my family in Congo-Kinshasa, I was lucky to meet many different children from a variety of cultures, countries, and languages in my childhood.
Martin: What do you feel is typically German?
Zolana: There are both positive and negative aspects. I would wish for a more relaxed attitude in Germany. Because of the prosperity in Germany, many Germans have developed a kind of tunnel vision that only allows for a very limited view of the things they are surrounded with. Many people in Germany too often complain how bad they have it when in fact we are so well off compared to very many countries in this world. What I like about Germany very much is the stability, reliability, precision and punctuality.
Martin: Have you experienced negative or even racist situations because of your appearance, your skin color?
Zolana: No, never. I think this is due to my positive attitude and to how people perceive me because of that.
Martin: Are you scared that the AFD could continue to grow?
Zolana: Scared? No, but I am worried. The first months after the founding of the party by Bernd Lucke the basic principles of the AFD were only conservative. But over time, and with many people joining from the wider circle of the NPD, the tenor of the AFD became more and more right-leaning. I am really worried about this development and how it will continue.
Martin: Why is it important to you to be part of my project?
Zolana: I want to try to change the view of our society on people with a migration background. On the other hand, I think an immigration law for Germany would be good and important. This immigration law could for example be set up similar to the immigration laws in Canada or New Zealand. Their immigration laws are very strict, but also fair. Everyone knows beforehand what to expect, and even more important what is expected from them.
Martin: Zolana, in our first brief conversation you mentioned that you are a musician and that your first single is planned to be released on February 1.
Zolana: Yes, that’s true. I already started making music in Congo-Kinshasa. In my hip-hop songs I process my life, my experiences, ideas, and wishes. Many of my texts are in German, but some of them also in Lingála, one of the national languages of Congo-Kinshasa.
Martin: What do you expect from my project?
Zolana: By being part of this project, I would like to show people that it is a benefit and an enrichment to live and grow up with several cultures.
Martin: Thank you very much for your trust, the conversation, and for participating in my project.