The Last Day


It feels like the end,
but it’s only the beginning…
I wrote the words, then chanted
I spoke the words and stood in formation
I created rituals, so I wouldn’t forget
I burned candles, I lit incense
I filled the room with sage and lobaan
I built an altar so that I could see, I
danced until I could once again breathe, I
didn’t have much company or outside influence, I
took time out for me.
My, Moon watching vigils lasted for hours, my
Sun salutations opened me to spirit, I
studied my chakras, my energy, my spirituality
I focused on balancing my core, I
posed in Kemet, I
tiptoed thru the Nile
I gazed into the Pacific, I,
cried into the Atlantic, I
connected with my angels,
they are my Ancestors, I
learned to forgive, I
learned to live, I
opened my heart, I
received, I
received, I
repeat, I
manifest so magickally, I
was given a purpose, I
mastered chemistry, I
summoned you, I
summoned me, I
let go, I
sang the song, I
held the hands of my friends, I
remembered my Mother, I
saw my Father, I
loved on my Sisters, I
called on my Brothers, I
purged, only to emerge
like a butterfly, colorful, I
have wings.

by Shila Iris, 12/31/2018

Dedicated to Beverly White-Yates … read below

Shout out to my sister Judy, who is turning 36 today.  Peace, my Love.

Also, I am remembering Beverly White-Yates who visited me the week before she passed.
She came to me during my meditation.  I asked myself, “why is Beverly in my meditation?”  My ancestors are the ones that visit me in this state, but she was there, smiling.  She and I were very much alike.  The first day we met, we were holding hands like sisters.  We instantly connected!  Our twenty year difference in age did not matter at all.  She showed me what it was like to have unconditional, pure love from a woman.  [Over the years, I have craved sisterhood in friendship, but the women that were around me, just weren’t authentic.  No disrespect to them, we just didn’t align spiritually.  On the surface, yes, but I was craving something real.  I can see people for what they are to the core.  That is a gift that I have accepted.  So, often times, women will attach to me, but I may seem standoffish when I don’t feel that genuine, raw, honesty and love.  Naturally, I have to protect myself].  Beverly had that.  I could let down my guard and be real with her, with no judgment.  She didn’t drain me, she added to my divine presence.  She was awesome.  I trusted her.  I trusted that she’d never do anything to hurt me.  It’s very rare for me to feel that. And even though I accept people and their actions, it feels good to know that someone will have your back no matter what.  They won’t sell you out or be embarrassed by your authenticity.

When Beverly appeared in my meditation the week before her physical death, she didn’t tell me she was leaving this realm, she sent my friend Bobby to tell me.  Odd, right?  He came and sat down next to me and said, “I have something to tell you.”  I couldn’t believe it.  I explained to him that I had just saw her.  I was in shock of her power, and of my own.  The gifts that she and I shared.  I saw her for what she was, and she saw me.  I loved her.  If we saw each other once every 3 years, the love would be the same.  In the last video she sent to me, she said that she and I had the same vibratory energy, having been born under the Aquarius Sun sign.  She also said that she always thought about me, and that she’d never forget me.  Not very many women in my life have been honest with me in this way, so it made me cry, and even typing this, it makes me cry.  I get it, though, I get death, and I know, like my ancestors, she is still here.  I am blessed to have videos of her on the Marco Polo app to go back and look at, because I think of her a lot.  I also have many pictures from when we worked together and videos from a project she helped me with in grad school.  We spoke the previous year and a few times earlier this year.  She is with me, always.  For as long as I am here, I will keep her alive in my thoughts and in the stories I share.  Peace.

Throwback Tonight: Happy Kwanzaa!


Tonight we dance!

The symbols of a culture, a heritage of humanity, mean a lot.  When they begin to disappear, be very concerned.  So, the moral of the story is:  wear your color, wear your art, wear your culture to remind you of where we been and we’re going.  Don’t give up.  Sankofa!

Besides, color is so dope!

I stay woke,
Shila Iris aka Honey


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

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

Day 6 – KWANZAA AFTER DARK: On the 6th Day of Kwanzaa, My True Love Gave to Me…


Innovation. Discovery. Courage.

I faced many challenges in 2014, but I am thankful that despite all, I never lost my ability to be creative. I AM ART. Can’t you see? KUUMBA!

30 and up 4Shila_Bobby Williams photo

In 2015, the only thing that I really need is Strength. With it, mountains will be moved. I am stronger now, than I ever have been, and I can only hope to get stronger. In my 30th season, I’ve seen things that were exciting, positive, and most of all real! Some of these things I have, some of these things, I hope to have for myself:

I saw people be completely honest about their desires- I want that.

I saw a woman continuously smile- I want that.

I saw a man express himself with no fear of judgment- I want that.

I saw people admit their faults, by removing the knives they put in backs- I want that.

I saw a woman, happy in her solitude- I want that.

I saw a man kiss a woman, and she looked like she was going to faint- I want that.

I saw people read- I want that.

I saw a man praise his ancestors- I want that.

I saw a woman sacrifice- I want that.

I saw people walk towards love, instead of running- I want that.

I saw a man and a woman talk to each other about their mistakes- I want that.

I saw a greedy man, share- I want that.

I saw a lonely woman finally accept herself- I want that.

I want to CONTINUE TO GROW. What do you want?

I saw a woman become her ArT.

Studio 3003, 11 rue Labat 75018

I am LOVE. I am ForgiveNess. I aM reciProcity.

I stand nAked, ready to face the world. ♥ I am noT Afraid of You.


My true Love is Myself.

Peace and blessings. 9:00 P.M. 12/31/14


from Queen, Me

Day 3 – KWANZAA AFTER DARK: THE real Work starts at Home


“Nothing can satisfy me like a hug or a kiss from my mother, my sister, my brother, or my father.”  -Shila Iris

Ujima principle teaches each family member to recognize that their own well-being is derived from their family and community. Our lives are bound together.

I have learned that taking care of your family and fostering good and honest relationships with true friends, is one of the most revolutionary things you can do in this life. It takes hard work and lots of lovin.’ It takes humility to be there for your family, and it takes discipline and respect, not to cross lines with your friends. Before this year, I honestly had no idea what a real community felt like.

My community is my family, my community is my friends. When we are all strong, then we can change the world. I want to feed them first.

Last night, I was talking to my best friend and all of a sudden, I was crying. I got off of the phone with him and lay in bed wondering, how will I survive this? The past few months of my life haven’t been easy. These are some extremely trying times. Great change takes work! Those who saw me through this, empowered me by doing real things like providing any type of support I needed, rather it be financial or just a listening ear; they’ve cooked healthy meals for me and smiled with me and basked in my glory. I have learned so much.

I lay in bed and after a few minutes, my friend called back and he said these very sweet words to me:

“You don’t have to do this alone. You never do. I will be here. I know how it feels. I will come and sit with you if you’d like. You should know that I love you and that is what I am here for. I can help.”

That is Collective Work & Responsibility. The real work starts at home.

Peace and love,

Shila Iris 

Queen Shila Iris 8:30 p.m. 12/28/14

My New Year Start’s Today

Today is February 13 and it is my birthday! I am excited! I never really get excited on my birthday but this year I am grateful for so many things, including all the new and wonderful people who have become a part of my world. I can thank my greatest friend in life (he knows who he is) for introducing me to so many new ideas, people, and feelings… we have a chemistry only true friendship can understand.

SMOOTH IS LIFE TRAVELS WITH YOU BESIDE ME… Thanks for being real and being so kind and tough and respectful and thoughtful and supportive. You have helped me evolve as an artist more than anyone. Peace and love to you always.

So… I love being an Aquarius. The sign defines me and I define it. Now it is time to write.

This is my first blog entry of the year. I wanted to write many times, but for some reason I could not! I think I had to get into the groove of the year. I was discouraged from making observations about the year and making resolutions until I made some major decisions about my life. My new year starts NOW- February 13. My birthday always feels more like a new year for me. In the past I have not been a big birthday person, but it means a great deal to me this year because I feel like I have more wisdom than I ever had. I have grown tremendously and I do not mind getting older. I welcome age. I can already see myself loving my gray hair when that time comes!


I’ve noticed changes in my body. It looks like I will have to get more active this year because my skin feels different and my face looks a bit different.

I’ve noticed changes in the way that I think. Things do not affect me the same. I want more now and I have this constant desire to find freedom.

I’ve started to face reality. I used to struggle with the here and now. I wanted people to be how I wanted them to be and I wanted them to change on the spot. I am not too concerned with these types of things anymore. My biggest concern is connecting myself with nature and seeing the world.

I used to have time to waste, but as I get older I realize that I need to keep pressing on. I do not want to play as much anymore (well, maybe just a bit). I love to have fun and smile every moment that I can… smell the flowers, if I may. I just realize that work and play have to match. THE KEY IS: USE MODERATION IN EVERYTHING THAT YOU DO. Overuse and abuse make you grow old faster. Bad habits make you grow older as well. Only take what you need. Only buy what you need. Only use what you need. I accept enough to get by. Do not be greedy. Have you ever been at a cook out and watched that one person load their plate up until it is spilling over? Then they laugh and make meaningless comments trying to come up with an excuse as to why they are being greedy? DO NOT BE THAT PERSON. Take a little and leave some for others, move on. Do not accept anything for free. Work for the things you desire in life.


I ushered in January with history and poetry and art. I celebrated Kwanzaa with a group I perform poetry with: The Griot Project. We celebrated our 2nd Annual Kwanzaa this year. We had all observed Kwanzaa in the past, but we decided to celebrate it together and invite people to our celebrations. For 7 whole days we did this. Each evening we had a brief ceremony, ate, had discussions, took pictures, gave gifts, and glowed in the midst of our ancestors knowing they were proud that we took pride in our African American Identity- no watering it down.


I made Kwanzaa gifts. Since I paint and create, I love to give people art. I used old vinyl records to create Africa-inspired designs. 


I enjoyed making these gifts and spending time with friends. I invited my friend Robert over ON my day which was Nia: Purpose (we all take a day and do research and share our findings with everyone who comes). He brought his friend Jennifer who I had never met. She later connected me with another poetry group in Columbus,Ohio. I was very grateful. This is why I enjoy meeting new people because it seems we all touched each other and were there at that particular time for a reason.  THAT WAS MY NEW YEAR!

I also spent time with my friends from Umojah Nation Reggae Band. We went to Oil City, PA. They had a 4 hour gig welcoming in the New Year! Yes, 4 hours! It was fun. I do not have a picture from that day because I think everyone was too cold to pose!

Well. this year I hope to do some extensive traveling and see my family more.

More to come…

Check out my birthday playlist:

1. Jill Scott: Spring Summer Feeling

2. Telepopmusik: Don’t Look Back

3. Esthero: Thank Heaven for You

4. Janet Jackson: When We Oooo

5. Madonna: Secret

6. Maxwell: Bad Habits

7. Corinne Bailey Rae: Closer

8. Portishead: All Mine

9. LiAnn La Havas: Don’t Wake Me Up

10. Erykah Badu: Out My Mind, Just in Time

Peace & love and thanks for reading,

Queen Duafe of African Essence