Day 4 – KWANZAA AFTER DARK: Reciprocity


I am one of those people who truly enjoy supporting my fellow brothers and sisters. If you have a business of any sort, that I can use, I will come. Storefront, or online, in your house, or if you’re a vendor at festivals, I’ll be there. Musically inclined, I’ll be there. Seriously, I wrote a chant called, I’ll Be There! I will continue to come and offer suggestions when necessary, because it’s important to me. More so than the money that I spend, I believe that my time is most valuable, so even, when I come, believe me, I want to support you. study groups, community gatherings, book clubs, bonfires, cookouts- it’s all relevant to who I am, to who we are.

Furthermore, I’ll live amongst my people, and talk to them, and build them up in any way that I can. The peace of a suburb is too easy for me. I don’t desire it, because anywhere I go, my partner and I, and maybe you, we’ll make it work for us. WE MAKE IT WORK!


In 2016 I’ll need that same support, and although I haven’t asked for it before, I’ll ask for it now because I authentically need to feel the love of my people. The reciprocity, the balance is necessary.

Ujamaa (oo-JAH-mah) Cooperative economics emphasizes our collective economic strength and encourages us to meet common needs through mutual support.

Day 4- Instructions for Kwanzaa:  You should greet your friends and family by asking: Habari gani? (Translation: What’s the news?); and today, they can respond: Ujamaa! (Translation: Cooperative Economics) Learn more about Kwanzaa here.



Kwanzaa Day 1

Kwanzaa Day 2



Day 3 – KWANZAA AFTER DARK: We Can Get a Lot More Done Together


Ujima (oo-GEE-mah)

Day 3- Instructions for Kwanzaa:  You should greet your friends and family by asking: Habari gani? (Translation: What’s the news?); and today, they can respond: Ujima! (Translation: Collective Work and Responsibility) Learn more about Kwanzaa here.

Ujima 4Tonight, let’s talk about the 3rd Principle of Kwanzaa: Ujima, which means Collective Work & Responsibility. 

I had to do it alone,
for a long time,
I had to be this way, but now,
I can call on my partner,
what about you?   -Shila

Collective work can look like this: Àṣẹ Dance Theatre CollectiveUjima

In my travels and experiences, I have witnessed a lot of Us turning against one another, which causes us to break up group efforts. Personal feelings, incest, and dishonesty get in the way of many many good things. How can we begin to change this? I have some ideas, but what do you think?

  • Unity is strength, division is weakness. ~ Swahili proverb
  • Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable. ~ Bondei proverb
  • It takes a village to raise a child. ~ African proverb
  • Cross the river in a crowd and the crocodile won’t eat you. ~ African proverb
  • Many hands make light work. ~ Haya (Tanzania) proverb
  • Where there are many, nothing goes wrong. ~ Swahili proverb
  • Two ants do not fail to pull one grasshopper. ~ Tanzanian proverb
  • A single bracelet does not jingle. ~ Congolese proverb
  • A single stick may smoke, but it will not burn. ~ African proverb
  • If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. ~ African proverb

I am Shila. Thank you for visiting.

Ujima 3

Happy Kwanzaa!



Isn’t she beautiful? I’m just saying.


Shila Iris 

Shila Kwanzaa

Stay tuned for my blog series, Kwanzaa After Dark… coming, tonight, after dark! ♥

DAY 1 – KWANZAA AFTER DARK: Afrikan Aesthetics May Lead You ThereKwanzaa Day 1

DAY 2 –  KWANZAA AFTER DARK: Gil Scott-Heron & My koo-jee-cha-goo-LEE-ahKwanzaa Day 2

Day 2- KWANZAA AFTER DARK: Gil Scott-Heron & My koo-jee-cha-goo-LEE-ah


Kwanzaa Day 2

KUJICHAGULIA (koo-jee-cha-goo-LEE-ah) means SeLF-DeTerMiNation
So, what are you determined to do?  
poeTry by Shila Iris (a choppy freestyle poem)

I am determined to free myself, and my people
Think for myself, and pass it on to the children
Name myself, disconnect from the Barnes,
you can call me Shila, Iris, OSiRis RiSinG
after my pilgrimage, I came back with an X
never liked working for a “boss,”
job title, a Creator,
I speak to us, I speak to them
a griot storyteller, I don’t preach to Us
You can see my face on the walls in Kemet
a sleep shaker, waking up the complacent
the grand reaper, like a thief in the night stole his brain
Now he walking dead, insane to the membrane
I promote self, the return of the Messiah,
the god in You, return to the throne cause you’re worthy
but we don’t rule from up high, that’s a lie
created by an informant and a spy, a spook
would you like me to measure you in a hook?

You getting weaker Mr. Man, with all the female friends,
leave the weapon in your pants, and take her on a mind dance
she don’t need you impregnating her with the Omen
and masquerading her around in surround sound, reality Tv,
could it be any faker?


I am determined to follow the signs that lead me away from drama and chaos.
The  hurdles in the road bring colossal  disappointments,
but, smooth   seas   don’t make good sailors.
I am a mariner,
like the car   I drive,
I strive, for excellence
defined by no Other.
Surely,   I am not judging myself based on your speculations
surely, you are   not   feeding me your translation
I am focused on my emancipation
from the distractions in my lap, Like,
cell phones with IG notifications, FB stimulation and
tweet hydration, but they don’t really drink the sweet tea outside of
history textbook philosophy
I’m not a dreamer, I’ve transcended,
I’m not a peacekeeper,
I have no limits,
I have to stop listening to you modify the truth so that i can get the real answers.
if facts can be fiction. then let’s change the facts,
my shield, my koo-jee-cha-goo-LEE-ah, my
magic, did you see the fire come from my    finger tips?
did you hear the SPE LL whispered from my lips?
twist in a hip, start a war,
but, I’m armored,
with a mind like weapons
of    mass   construction
simple deductions bring hardcore answers,
i stick close to the One that can
stomp like an elephant, sting like a bee, carry a load like an ant,
yep, I plant seeds… with self-determination, you won’t catch me!

Stomp Like An Elephant

Happy Kwanzaa! I hope you enjoyed your day. I just loved mine! -i am Shila Iris

Karibu (Welcome) to Day 2– Instructions for Kwanzaa:

You should greet your friends and family by asking: Habari gani? (Translation: What’s the news?); and today, they can respond: Kujichagulia! (Translation: Self-Determination) Learn more about Kwanzaa here.

Let’s talk about the 2nd Principle of Kwanzaa: Kujichagulia.


My gift to you today, on day 2, is Gil Scott-Heron, because I want to remind you that you don’t have to live in a bottle. Be determined to GET FREE and LIVE trying. Gil inspires my freestyle flows. He had so much soul. Check it out, will you?

Asante sana. Thank you for visiting African Essence by Shila Iris
AE- Blog 12_21_12_15


Day 1- KWANZAA AFTER DARK: Afrikan Aesthetics May Lead You There


Kwanzaa Day 1


So, you’re here to join me for my 9 p.m. Sunrise? Happy Kwanzaa! I hope you enjoyed your day. I just loved mine! -i am Shila Iris

Day 1- Instructions for Kwanzaa:

You should greet your friends and family by asking: Habari gani? (Translation: What’s the news?); and today, they can respond: Umoja! (Translation: Unity) Learn more about Kwanzaa here.

Tonight, let’s talk about the 1st Principle of Kwanzaa: Umoja, which means Unity. 

Allow it.
The mind opens
as the heart prepares itself for the full
embrace of the Season.
The climate has changed in my favor
The Sun kisses me as if I were near the Equator
She asks about my glow,
inquiring of the fullness of my belly
I say to her,
I am at peace with the One inside of me,
he and I are unified eternally
He shall be the one I see when I look into the mirror
my reflection,
is adorned with the promise
of my maturity,
speak to me.  -i am poet, Shila 
What if you fully embraced images of you? Your hair, your heritage (find it), your family? It’s a melanin thing, more like a blood stream, more like the River Nile, pulsating, inside of me, it incites me, excites me

I cannot be anyone other than me.

This is the Spirituality of Our Ancestors: Afrikan Aesthetics, I give you the first gift of Kwanzaa, us Unifying, is 
Enjoy them, and let me know what you think. 

Read about them:


Kwanzaa: Obama Approved!
Music for tonight.

P.S. If you’re in Cleveland, you should check this out tonight (keep in mind, the start time can be misleading. Honestly, I think if you make it there by 11:30 pm, you’ll be good.

This Moment in Black History at Mahall’s. Click on the image for more information.
This Moment in Black History

Peace & blessings manifest with every lesson learned,

Shila Iris

My heart is like a marching band…



  • Outkast featuring Sleepy Brown & Scar : Morris Brown 

“Music makes the world go round
Where it goes (where it goes)
Ya’ just don’t know (ya just don’t know)
My heart is like a marching band
Im a fan in the stands
Yes I am and Im hollerin’ hey baby
Sayin hey baby”  -Scar

Did that get your heart going? The woodwinds, brass, and of course the MARCHING PERCUSSION also known as the DRUMLINE. Yeah! Maybe a little Busta now? Wish he was cleaner though…

We like it a little dirty (minus the nigga and bitch, yeah, I try to meet people where they are, but yes, it can be hard to weed through the negative)

  • Busta Rhymes : Dangerous

  • Mos Def : Ghetto Rock 

Gotta love him and his partner…

  • Talib Kweli featuring Seu Jorge : Favela Love

Keep the heartbeat jumping (this is for the rapper in all of us)…

  • Wu Tang Clan featuring Cappadonna : Triumph 

You want to hear a little of the new school? Ok then. Don’t jump to conclusions, be sure to listen to the lyrics…

  • Lupe Fiasco : Bitch Bad

“Just like that, you see the fruit of the confusion
He caught in a reality, she caught in an illusion
Bad mean good to her, she really nice and smart
But bad mean bad to him, bitch don’t play a part
But bitch still bad to her if you say it the wrong way
But she think she a bitch, what a double entendre”  -Lupe

And Old Skool still proves to be better than most of the new. I stay in this lane…

“Excuse me, my name should be on the guest list!”

  • De Le Soul featuring Redman: Oooh 

The last set of a good party brings us closer together! Smoothness…

  • Pharcyde : Passin’ Me By

  • Janet Jackson : That’s the Way Love Goes

  • Buju Banton : Champion

  • Beenie Man Featuring Mya : Girls Dem Sugar

  • Shabba Ranks eaturing Maxi Priest : House Call 

  • Wayne Wonder : No Letting Go 

  • Bilal : White Turns to Grey

  • FKA Twigs : Papi Pacify

Friday nights are great, and so are Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays! Everyday is wonderful.

That’s all I got for now. Can we make a musical masterpiece?

Peace and blessings,

Shila Iris

Shila 1


Men despise what they do not understand…


… and so do women.

Do not sit and frown at her
your belief system
is not
to her.
Do not assume
she is something that she is not,
your way of living makes her feel,
Would you rather she die?
did you ask her if she was happy,
are you more concerned with converting her,
into you?

Play chess with a king, do you see? I am in the front seat, isn't that how it is supposed to be?

Play chess with a king, do you see? I am in the front seat, isn’t that how it’s supposed to be? You should find some balance, so that we can drink, and rise to your occasion, he only rises to my persuasion. I am not hunting him down, because he comes. This is, Us. And it can be you too, but you gotta stop fighting the Truth. I am not a mistress, I’m a Queen. Phenomenal. I am shedding those things that gave me insomnia. I am reborn. Cause life is about living, and not hiding. Life is about smiling, and striving, to find, your magic.

You condemn on hearsay evidence alone, your sins increase. -Nubian Proverb

Your eurocentric perspectives gave birth to chaos. People of Afrikan descent adopted these beliefs because they were forced to. Generations later, they hate themselves because you told them to hate themselves, and you killed those who didn’t subscribe to the extermination of nubian-kush greatness. Nonetheless, I do not hate myself. I embrace the ALL, even you. But do not tell me, that my spirit should be like yours, because you are asking me to believe in you as my God, and not me. How disrespectful. I admire all faces, but I do not praise you over me. Do you praise me over you? I would hope, that you believed in yourself. So…

Eurocentrism is a geographical fiction that flattens the cultural diversity of even Europe itself. Stop imposing your beliefs on people. Your system dumbs me down- straight jacket style. Today, I’m not having it.

We strive for different things, you and I, but I am not offended. I respect all that you are, and I hope that you are happy, being exactly who God made you- nothing altered, nothing false. Be true. Your lips. Your smile. Your color. Your lisp. Love it. Stop changing you (and pull up your damn pants!).

This is some Afrikan proverb for you, because, I love you. 

Peace and blessings manifest with every lesson learned,

Shila Iris

Shila Iris

Stop looking at me sideways and embrace who I am. I made a decision to be this way. I live this way. I am fully committed to the truth. Not some lie, that I have to validate. You can love me. I love you already.