My mum is Russian and my Dad is from Mali. I lived with my mum but we didn’t get on. She didn’t understand me. I used to run away a lot, but they always caught me and brought me back to her. When she couldn’t take it any more I moved in with my grandmother, but it wasn’t any better.
A lot of what I learned I learned on the streets: kids use to try to pick fights with me, and I fought back. When I was in the army I made sure people knew not to mess with me. I left the army with a drug habit and when I got back to Moscow I lived on the street. It was tough but it also made me very determined. I kicked my habit, and also discovered beat boxing: I even had a show on MTV Russia.
I had many thoughts about leaving. But I also worked hard to be where I am now. I don’t want to just give it all up.
Image: Liz Johnson Artur
This special report coincides with the Red Africa season running at Calvert 22 Foundation, from February 4th to April 3rd, Wed-Sun 12pm-6pm, 22 Calvert Avenue, London E2 7JP. Further details at Calvert22.org