Y'Akoto was born in Hamburg and grew up between Germany and Ghana (photo: Kame Entertainment)
Y'akoto: "The world is becomingly increasingly interwoven. This is a fact — an unstoppable one no less"

Jennifer Yaa Akoto Kieck, also known as Y'Akoto, was born in Hamburg in 1988 to a Ghanaian father and a German mother. She grew up in Ghana until she was 11 years old and the family moved back to Hamburg when she turned 12. Y'Akoto started writing songs and became a singer. She has published three records to date, featuring songs that often address social issues such as racism and the refugee crisis. Today, she splits her time between Hamburg and Paris.

"What is that even supposed to mean – German versus non-German? I find this kind of view so antiquated and outdated in a globalised world. I believe in cross and trans-identities. However, there's almost this compulsion in Germany to avow yourself to one culture or one passport only. I find this more than irritating, as it keeps society from progressing further. Also, it is highly offensive to people who feel at home with two identities and express this outwardly.

When I started school in Germany as a 12-year-old, I felt bullied by all the German kids around me. Understandably, I didn't seek to build any friendships with them. Instead, I sought out children who were like me and tried to make something good out of that situation. So when I was 15, I set out and started my first band with those people. What else was I supposed to do? Bend over backwards to try to belong somewhere that won't accept me the way I am? I think that's a mistake that many bi-cultural people make: They run themselves into the ground trying to fit into this German system.

I think it's a good thing that this hashtag #MeTwo is mobilising this debate on social media. But what's far more important is the next step: fighting racism systematically and using research to do so. We have to address casual racism in schools and teach children how to recognise it. We have to start with training intercultural competencies in preschool. The world is becomingly increasingly interwoven. This is a fact – an unstoppable one no less."

Yalda Zarbakhch

© Deutsche Welle 2018

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