Being the Story Live is our immersive storytelling event providing a platform for people who don’t normally have one, to inspire new ideas, challenge perceptions, and stimulate conversation on issues. Think social sector meets TedTalks. sounddelivery hosted our very first online edition of Being the Story live on the theme of ‘Life in Lockdown’. Seven year old Nylah Abitimo-Jones had a very memorable experience of ‘lockdown’! On 8th June 2020 Nylah performed her poem ‘Black’ in front of over 5000 people at the Black Lives Matter protest in Cheltenham. Since then, videos of her performance have been watched across the world by millions, reposted and shared by celebrities like Missy Elliott and platforms like NAACP, NowThis, BBC, Al-Jazeera across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. At Being the Story Nylah performed three of her poems, and spoke to Jude about what it means to be Young, Gifted & Black in 2020. Read Nylah’s poetry and watch her talk below.
Black is beautiful, Black is excellent,
Black is love, Black is elegant,
Black is my favourite colour,
Black books on my bookshelves,
Daddy told us if they don’t teach us then we should teach ourselves,
Mama smears Shea Butter so I shine and love myself,
Please don’t touch my hair, it’s like taking our wealth.
Dave said, the truth they are erasing it so I talked to mum and dad, my family tree we are tracing it.
Black is the future,
Me and my sisters we are making it,
Sports day last summer, the gold medal I was taking it.
Nylah’s poem ‘Back’ caught the attention of Blue Peter producers who asked Nylah to write a poem for their Silver Badge week. She wrote ‘Shine’, a poem that encourages people to believe in themselves and try something new and performed it live in the Blue Peter studio in July 2020.
If you woke up today wanting to try something new,
And you’re proud and ready to shine this goes out to you,
Or if you need a little help to believe in yourself,
You’ve got this! You can do it! It’s time to try something else.
I want you to sparkle like a shooting star,
Just find it in your heart.
You see when we try our best, that’s already a success,
Never give up, come on say it with your chest!
Practice a thousand times,
Practice every day,
Practice makes perfect, that’s what dad always says.
Believe in yourself, you know you are a winner.
Are you a poet, or a dancer or a rapper or a singer?
Are you sporty or a chef who can cook a yummy dinner?
Do it silver badge style,
Think of what you could do.
‘UG’, a playful celebration of culture – from the food she loves, her Ugandan Acholi ancestry and hair.
Acholi girl, born in Uganda,
I like Mirinda,
I like Fanta,
I like mango,
I like guava,
I like chapati,
I like cassava,
It means no worries for the rest of your days,
I like my hair in an afro and I like it in braids,
I like to sit around the fire and learn about the olden days,
My great grandad was a chief who travelled around the world,
I loved hearing stories about him since I was a little girl,
Proud to be Acholi, UG, it’s Africa’s pearl,
I feel it in my heart, and you can see it in my curls.