d'bi Young

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d'bi young anitafrika
D'bi Young.jpg
d'bi Young
BornDecember 23, 1977
OccupationDub poet, performance artist, actor, playwright
Notable work
The Sankofa Trilogy; The Orisha Trilogy; The Ibeji Trilogy; Da Kink in My Hair

d’bi.young anitafrika is a Jamaican-Canadian feminist dub poet and activist. Her work includes theatrical performances, four published collections of poetry, twelve plays, and seven albums.

Early life and education[edit]

d’bi young anitafrika was born on December 23, 1977, in Kingston, Jamaica to dub poet Anita Stewart and community organizer Winston Young. In 1993, she moved to Toronto, Canada to join her parents where she completed high school.[1]


Young's early career included the role of “Crystal” on the Frances-Anne Solomon produced sitcom Lord Have Mercy! (2003), theatre work with Black Theatre Workshop and Theatre Passe Muraille, and artist residencies with Soulpepper Theatre, CanadianStage, Obsidian Theatre, and Banff Centre for the Arts. In 2001, her breakout role as “Stacyanne” came through Da Kink in My Hair, by Jamaican-Canadian writer Trey Anthony.

Key works[edit]

Young's works, The Sankofa Trilogy, The Orisha Trilogy and The Ibeji Trilogy, explore the psychological and ideological impacts of colonization to capitalism on people of African descent, from a Black Feminist perspective. They are triptych dramas.

The Sankofa Trilogy are the stories of three Jamaican women, Mudgu Sankofa, her daughter Sekesu, and her granddaughter Benu. Each play uses the women's familial bond to tell of their respective journeys of revolutionary self-determination, and transformative self-expression. The Orisha Trilogy[2][3] is a series about the experiences of women characters of the past, present, and future who survived the transatlantic slave trade. In each time period, the women grapple with power, gender, and sexuality through oppression and social unrest, under the help and protection of the Orishas .The Ibeji Trilogy are three biomyth dramas about Black love as it evolves in the midst of major life changes, from friendship to romance, between mother and son, and deep self-love.

Publishing and theatre[edit]

Young established Spolrusie Publishing, a publishing house to support the work of emerging black writers.[4]

From 2008-2018 she also created and ran The Watah Theatre, the only black-focused performance art school in Canada. The Watah Theatre offered tuition-free professional development programs.[5] Between The Watah Theatre and Yemoya Artist Residency, she mentored some of Canada's up and coming young black creatives and international artists of colour including Amanda Parris,[6] Kim Katrin Milan[7], Titilope Sonuga, and photographer, Che Kothari.[8]

Young's style of theatre practice developed draws from her upbringing in the performative and political environment of emerging Dub poetry in Jamaica of 1980s. She uses Jamaican language and idiom as nation language, as opposed to colloquialism.[9] She works extensively with monodrama and biomythography, or “biomyth monodrama.”

The Anitafrika Method[edit]

Young's work recognizes the connections between identity and community as both inextricable and sacred.[10] The Anitafrika Method initiates self-recovery through a creative process of performance that grounds broader notions of identity, community, social constructs, and metaphysical concepts, and focuses them into an embodied performance experience.[9] She has applied the method in a variety of disciplines and with practitioners in health care, social justice, art, and leadership development.

From January to June 2015, Young applied the method in a special collaboration with the Women's College Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada: The Black Womxn's Health Research Project.[11]

In 2018 Young began work in postgraduate studies in the Praxes, Politics and Pedagogies of Black Performance at Goldsmiths, University of London.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Young is a mother to two sons.[citation needed]

Selected works[edit]


Year(s) Title Notes
2018 Once Upon a Black Boy
2017 The Orisha Trilogy Featuring: Esu Crossing the Middle Passage, Mami Wata & the Pussywitch Hunt, & Lukumi: A Dub Opera,
2016 Lukumi: A Dub Opera
2016 Esu Crossing the Middle Passage
2016 Mami Wata & the Pussywitch Hunt
2013 The Sankofa Trilogy Featuring: Benu, Bloodclaat, & Word! Sound! Powah!
2011 The Sankofa Trilogy

(Featuring: Benu, Bloodclaat, & Word! Sound! Powah!)

Tarragon Theatre
2010 Nanny Maroon Warrior Summerworks, Lower Ossington Theatre
2010 Word! Sound! Powah!

(Part 3 of The Sankofa Trilogy)

Free Word Centre (2010), Summerworks Theatre Festival (2010), Toronto Fringe Festival (2010), Canadian Stage Theatre (2010)
2008 She Buddies in Bad Times Theatre
2007 Benu (Part Two of The Sankofa Trilogy) Summerworks Theatre Festival, Theatre Passe Muraille
2006 Domestic Saidye Bronfman Centre for the Arts
2001-2016 Bloodclaat Watah Theatre (2016), Tarragon Theatre (2011), The Rhubarb Festival (2010), University of the Western Cape (2010), Firehall Theatre Vancouver (2010), GCTC, Magnetic North Theatre Festival (2010), Firehall, Magnetic North Theatre Festival (2008), Theatre Passe Muraille (2006), Solitary, b current theatre (2001)
2003 Androgyne Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

Theatre (actor)[edit]

Year Title Role Theater Notes
2017 For Colored Girls Lady In Red Soulpepper Theatre
2012 In Search Of My Father Nu Century Arts
2008 Have You Seen Zandile Zandile African Theatre Ensemble
2008 Three Sisters Olga Soulpepper Theatre
2008 Three Penny Opera Ballad Singer Soulpepper Theatre
2007 Da Kink In My Hair Staceyanne/Claudette Hackney Empire London
2006 San Diego Repertory Theatre California
2006 Princess Of Wales Theatre Toronto
2003/2005 Theatre Passé Muraille
2001 Toronto Fringe Festival Role debut
2003 Anowa Badua Artword Theatre
2002 Stuck Womban Black Theatre Workshop
2002 Three Parts Harmony Body Tarragon Theatre
2001 And Girls In Their Sunday Dresses Mime Artword Theatre
1999 Tooth And Nail Sifiso Mcgill Theatre

Television (actor)[edit]

Year Title Role Director Network Notes
2003 Lord Have Mercy! Crystal Various Vision Television


Title Producer Release Date
When Sisters Speak Live Dwayne Morgan 2008
Love Equality Freedom Revolushun. CBC Poetry Faceoff 2004
Blood And Animal Farm Lost Tribes Of The Sun: Renewal 2003
Ain’t I A Woman (In Dub) Ribsauce: Words By Women 2001
Revolution La Vache Enragee. Planete Rebelled 1998
Johnny. Wordlife Revword. 1998


Title Year Publisher
Dubbin Poetry: The Collected Poems of d’bi.young anitafrika 2019 Spolrusie Publishing
Oya: Collection Of Writing 2014 Spolrusie Publishing
Shemurenga: Black Supah Shero Comic (Book 1) 2013 Spolrusie Publishing
Rivers And Other Blackness Between Us: (Dub) Poems Of Love. 2007 Women's Press
Blood.Claat 2006 Playwrights Canada Press
Art On Black 2006 Playwrights Canada Press


Essay Date Publication Publisher
Black Plays Matter: Watah Theatre, Creating Safe Space for Black Artists in These Dangerous Times 2016 Canadian Theatre Review: Equity in Theatre University of Toronto Press
R/Evolution Begins Within 2012 Canadian Theatre Review: Manifestos University of Toronto Press
Love Equality Freedom and Revolushun 2007 Theorizing Empowerment: Canadian Perspectives on Black Feminist Thought Inanna Publications
Revolushun III and Letter To Tchaiko 2007 Wasafiri Magazine Open University and Routledge
Dubpoetics and Personal Politics 2007 Notes From Canada's Young Activists: A Generation Stands Up for Change Greystone Books
2006 Talking Book Cumulus Press
Blood, Dub and Holy 2002 Contemporary Verse: The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical Writing Canadian Magazines Publishers Association
Ain’t I a Woman (In Dub) 2007 A Canadian Anthology of Words by Women Véhicule Press


Poem Date Publication Publisher
Love Equality Freedom and Revolushun 2007 Theorizing Empowerment: Canadian Perspectives on Black Feminist Thought Inanna Publications
Revolushun III and Letter To Tchaiko 2007 Wasafiri Magazine Open University and Routledge
Blood, Dub and Holy 2002 Contemporary Verse: The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical Writing Canadian Magazines Publishers Association
Ain’t I a Woman (In Dub) 2007 A Canadian Anthology of Words by Women Véhicule Press


  1. ^ Johnson, Richard (May 28, 2012). "D'bi's Word! Sound! Powah!". Jamaica Observer. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  2. ^ Maga, Carly (April 4, 2016). "Esu Crossing the Middle Passage a powerful journey back in time". The Toronto Star. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  3. ^ Parris, Amanda (Sep 22, 2017). "Everything you ever wanted to know about dub". CBC Arts. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  4. ^ "d'bi young anitafrika on performance, centring oneself, and storytelling".
  5. ^ "HERstory in Black: d'bi young anitafrika". CBC News. Feb 22, 2017. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  6. ^ "CBC Arts: The Exhibitionists".
  7. ^ Samuel, Getachew (February 15, 2012). "SWAY MAGAZINE: Q&A with Kim Crosby". SWAY Magazine. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  8. ^ Che, Kothari. "Che Kothari- About".
  9. ^ a b Eva C., Karpinski (2017). "Can Multilingualism Be a Radical Force In Contemporary Theatre? Exploring the Option of Non-Translation" (PDF). Theatre Research in Canada/Recherches Théâtrales. 38 (2): 153–167 – via Theatre Research in Canada/Recherches théâtrales.
  10. ^ anitafrika, d'bi. young (2016). "Black Plays Matter: Watah Theatre, Creating Safe Space For Black Artists In These Dangerous Times'". Canadian Theatre Review. 165: 26–31. doi:10.3138/ctr.165.005.
  11. ^ "Research". anitafrikmethod. Retrieved 2019-05-08.
  12. ^ "dbi.young anitafrika". Open Space. Retrieved May 9, 2019.

Further reading[edit]

  • Allen, L 2016, ‘The Sixth Sense in Performance: d’bi.young anitafrika’, in J Householder & T Mars (Eds), More Caught in The Act: An Anthology of Performance Art by Canadian Women, YYZ Books, Toronto, pp. 107–113.
  • Austin, D 2018, Dread Poetry and Freedom: Linton Kwesi Johnson and the Unfinished Revolution, Pluto Books, Montreal.
  • Flynn, K & Marrast, E 2008, ‘Dubbin Revolushun: Interview with d’bi.young’, obsidian lll, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 35–58.
  • Luhning, H 2010, ‘Accountability, Integrity, and 'Benu': an Interview with d'bi.young’, Alt Theatre Magazine, vol. 8, no.1, pp. 10–17.
  • Gumbs, A P 2016, ‘Angel’s Basic School: d’bi.young anitafrika and Black Queer Divinity’, Jacket2, 6 October
  • Ford Smith, H 2018, ‘Performing Queer Marronage: The Work of d’bi.young anitafrika’, in P Dickinson, C E Gatchalian, K Oliver & D Singh (Eds), Q2Q: Queer Canadian Performance Texts, Playwrights Canada Press, Toronto, pp. 239–243.
  • Gill, L K 2016, ‘I Represent Freedom: Diaspora and The Meta-Queerness of Dub Theater’, in E P Johnson (Ed), No Tea, No Shade: New Writings in Black Queer Studies, Duke University Press, durham, pp. 113–130.
  • Sakolsky, R 2004, ‘Summer Festivals 2004: International Dub Poetry Festival’, The Beat, vol. 23, no. 5, pp. 36–37, 41.

External links[edit]