Dear Black Child (2021)

Single channel film (5.1 surround sound)

“As within, so without” – Director’s Statement

In French, the translation of “to inhale” is “inspirer”.

As a source of abundant oxygen, which is an essential life-giving and creating force, I’m fascinated by the idea of the Forest as a source of inspiration, insofar that the act of “breathing-in” is one of inspiring the cells with life (in reference to some of the musings of Olympian Free diver Julie Gautier). When our cells are filled with life, we can begin to imagine transcending a state of existence, into states of living and thriving. Simultaneously, the French for exhale is “expirer” – breathing out that which no longer serves; that which has expired.

I wanted to represent the forest and reclaim it as a site from which joy and healing can be central for Black people. The forest has played this role for us throughout history, across the globe, but is paired with the duality of being a violent and unsafe space, sometimes a space for the practise of nefarious activities, and even a space to, and through which, we have fled to escape or hide out of desperation.

It was therefore important to connect with the divinity of the space as a restorative force, and offer a joyful and beautiful narrative, that is often eclipsed by negative narratives. In Dear Black Child, the forest permits the celebration and proliferation of joy, which I see as a radical act of healing.

And yet, the experience of joy is not dependent on the forest, the external, but readily accessible to us all to connect with internally, in our own unique ways. Whether as a feeling, emotion, vibration, or even a frequency.

As within, so without.


Authored by: Tobi Onabolu

Produced by: Jess Ajose

Edit & Grade: Nic Wassell 

Score & Sound Design: Ejiro “4Stringsz” Sowole-James

Director of Photography: Lola “Lolly” Michaels


Ayo Babatope

Kane Horne

Ebere Anosike


Ayooluwa Onabolu 

Dolapo Osunsina

Beautiful Manzini 

Mandisa Apena 

Dylan Appah 

Shakeel Browne 

Mike O 

Rebekah Williams 

Sifan Zelalem 

Voiceover Artists

Urbain Hayo 

Oreka Godis 

Nnenna Odumodu

Nwora Emenike 

Pat Kerr

Beautiful Manzini

Tobi Onabolu


Movement Director: Webster 

1st Assistant Director: Neneh Kumar

1st AC / Focus Pull: Agata Morwaska

Gaffer: Joe Nkadi 

DIT / Camera Assistant: Lorissa Paige

Stills Photography: Karis Beaumont 

Set Designer: Tejumola “Butler” Adenuga 

Set Assistant: Gabrielle Oke 

Costume Designer: Seyon Amosu 

Costume Assistant: Sephora Camocotelo 

Hair & Make Up: Danielle Aleshea Mason

Food Design: Victor Okunowo 

Runner: Junior Oduwole

Commissioned by: Rooted by Design