Spoken Word Artist: Roziena Salihu

This week on the journey blog, we take a look into the world of spoken word. That's why we would like to introduce the very talented Roziena Salihu. The last couple of years she has not only taken the stage by storm but also had the chance to shine on screen. Roziena 26 (@roziena.salihu), is a young creative living in Amsterdam. In her form of art she expresses her view on life by putting her feelings into it. Language isn't a hurdle as she works in Dutch and English. Next to spoken word Roziena also enjoys making short stories, theatre and lyrics. In short she is an all round performing art artist that is eager to mix her art forms with different disciplines. We took the time to ask Roziena some questions on her experiences and views.

For how long have you been doing spoken word?

About 7 years ago I had my first encounter with spoken word. I got to know a very cool spoken word artist called Tyler Koudijzer. When I saw him perform, I thought to my self "I want to do this". After that day I googled 'spoken word Amsterdam". That's how I found out about The Poetry Circle. In 2014 I followed some workshops there and over time it became my job.

What do you enjoy most about spoken word?

Spoken word is a way in which I am able to express myself properly. Ever since I was young I loved performing art, music and spoken. In my opinion spoken word is an art discipline that covers traces of all things. I like how I can spin a text to my own hand by playing with rhythm and other features from theatre.

What is your spoken word highlight so far?

For the Black Achievement Month I was able to perform at the National Ballet and Opera for Dancing Diversity. The location and the line-up were beautiful. It was an honour to be part of this. Aside from that, last year I made my own documentary 'Fufu and Appelmoes'. In the documentary I used spoken word as voice over. This was very nice to do and also to see again.

Do you ever get inspired by your African roots? In what sort of way?

I get inspired by things that go to my heart. And by the things I see in my surroundings. My African heritage is also part of that.

Do you face any challenges being a person of colour in the world of spoken word and how do you overcome those?

I think as a woman of colour you're always busy relating yourself to the white male norm. Sometimes I ask myself if I'm getting booked so a certain organization can meet there diversity quota or because they really appreciate my talent. How I deal with that is by making it negotiable. Sometimes I straight up ask the question. Sometimes I have a gut feeling but might end up still preforming but if it really doesn't feel right I don't. That's how I stay true to myself.

What is the biggest lesson you learnt from doing spoken word?

You are allowed to take space in saying what you think. When you're on stage you're basically allowed to say everything you want and in this time on stage people have to take the time to listen. When more difficult subjects are discussed its easy to talk over those. when I'm on stage for a moment this is not possible. 

Do you have an spoken word idol and who is this?

I don't really have an idol but I do get inspired by a lot of spoken word artist that I find amazing. These are also people that are around me. This is not only in the spoken word style or talent. But also how they move with in the scene and what kind of beautiful people they are. Babs Gons should not be missing on this list. She almost single-handedly put spoken word on the map in the Netherlands and is still killing it. But Also Elten Kiene, I think he is a great entrepreneur and his whole vibe is infectious, his positive vigour is out of this world and is very nice to have in my presence. The list is much longer. My friends Zeinab El Boui and Sandy Bosmans always find a way to touch me with their text. Bar Guijs lifts the level of spoken word by using influences of theatre and rap. That's it for now but I could keep going. 

Last year you premiered your first movie. How was is to mix footage with spoken word?

Yes, Amazing. In my opinion interdisciplinary is fantastic and I'm a figure thinker. It was very nice to mix image and spoken word together. 

Did you notice a big difference in making a movie and what was this difference?

The biggest difference for me was that in the world of movies, I still have a lot to learn. The process was paired with a decent dose of doubt and insecurity because I am unschooled in this subject. Usually I am used to make a spoken word text by myself, but the movie was made together with Leon Veenendaal. It was very fun working in a team and made me feel like some one had my back. Super dope!

Can we expect more movies in the future?

One hundred percent!!

Do you have a pre performance ritual? Or something to help calm your nerves?

Not really before going on stage I'll do a little stretch to get in a higher level of energy.

Why should other people start with spoken word?

First of all nothing is a must but in my opinion spoken word is a nice way of having your say and a good way to express your feelings. Next to that, I enjoy that it's something that stays once a text is finished. It becomes a mini baby that started in my head and ended up on paper. The part I enjoy most is that I can get amazed of what comes out during writing. 

If we want to see preform what's the best way to find out?

Best way to stay up to date is to keep an eye on my instagram @roziena.salihu that's where I give updates on upcoming performances.

If you could request one tune to dance to which tune would it be?

Dora- Thierra Whack. This was my go-to last week. Love her. I find her funny and I can really vibe to her tunes.


We at African Drops already had the chance to see Roziena perform live recently and we definitely recommend you to also do so in the future. We want to thank Roziena once again for working with us and we hope to see you shine much more in the coming years.

Do you know someone or a subject that you'd like to see covered in the journey blog? Let us know by sending us an IG DM or an email to info@africandrops.com, and maybe it will be part of the journey soon. 

Thanks again for reading, and we'll see you again for the next one.

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