Embodiment of strength and black power, Dylema is a force to be reckoned with! Bold, fierce and memorising is how I would describe her work. I remember the first time I heard, ‘What if a black girl knew’ I felt empowered and inspired. It gave me a breath of fresh air and reminded me of the riches we, not only as black people possess but as black women. As a black woman myself, I can sometimes feel entrapped, having to suppress parts of myself as they may not be deemed acceptable by the society we currently live in. The way I think, feel, talk and move are policed by unseen structures which restrict me from being who I wish to be and that in itself can be cognitively taxing and draining. However, Dylema’s artistic work is soul food which replenishes the soul!
Dylema has continually allowed her work to create different platforms in which she can spread the message of creating, finding and manifesting your own power and magic. She released her very own documentary last spring and even performed at last year’s AZ Mag Live. I found her performance striking as she commanded the stage with ease, invoking dormant creative juices within me as well as bringing an authentic narrative to dealing with hardships and feeling misunderstood in daily life. Dylema is also a Jazz singer and has performed at various places including TED talks in Birmingham, the Jazz Cafe in Camden, Rich mix, Ronnie Scott’s all with the Dylema Collective. She also launched her own platform called, ‘What if a black girl knew’ earlier this year, which is loaded with podcasts, stories, events and special guests!
Dylema’s, most recent project ‘Four Women’ is a show that was the sweet treat I needed last week. I found it thought-provoking and provocative. Four Women took its audience on a journey from Africa, ‘The Motherland’ to England, ‘The land of milk and honey’ using mixed perspectives of an old woman and a young girl. This transition is often believed to illuminate ones reality from facing poverty and struggle to stability and hope. However, Dylema’s show captured the essence of the complexities and entanglement of freedom vs cultural assimilation through a sensational ensemble of spoken word, poetry, song and dance.
The journey of migration in hopes of a better life spoke of the harsh realities many individuals face in terms of prejudice, changing one’s identity and the need to belong which often results in conforming to European standards. She even created her own version of the national anthem called, ‘Diana’ paying homage to the late Princess of Wales but more importantly highlighting the, ‘need’ to adopt a British name and, trade of, ‘my mother tongue for yours’ while donning a British flag and marching around the stage.
This magical coming of age journey was infused with humour and passion which allowed the audience to be enchanted by Dylema’s performance. ‘Stranger’ which is just one of Dylema’s captivating songs/spoken word pieces also features in the play which also reminded the audience that we are all human, we all have skin, we all cry, we all sing, we all dream so what makes me a stranger?
Dylema allowed me to explore my own personal struggle in trying to keep my roots alive in a place that does not truly know how to nourish them. I can not wait to see her on stage again!