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Dembe Zuma is a main character in The Blacklist. He is Raymond Reddington's sworn bodyguard and one of his closest friends, having been rescued by Red from human trafficking as a child.


Dembe is introduced as a former freedom fighter from South Sudan. It was assumed that he was Raymond Reddington's bodyguard. In “The Mombasa Cartel” it is revealed that he was born the youngest son of a farmer named Samwel Zuma. When Samwel reported a number of low-ranking operatives of the Mombasa Cartel, a poaching organization, to the authorities, the cartel killed Dembe's father, mother, and siblings, and sold Dembe to human traffickers. At some point, he was being held by the Eberhardt Cartel. He spent 8 years in the world of human trafficking and was enslaved until the age of 14, when Reddington found him half-dead and chained to a pipe in the basement of a brothel in Nairobi. Reddington took care of him, nursed him back to health, and made sure he got an education. Dembe eventually earned a Bachelor's degree in English Literature, learned to speak 4 languages fluently and learned 6 others well enough to get by.

There are confirmed reports that Dembe was with Red in Sierra Leone and Brussels, Belgium. Other reports place him and Red in Murmansk and Belfast.

Dembe claimed that there are 3 people he cares about in the whole world, his daughter Isabella, his granddaughter Elle, and Raymond.

Dembe is among the very few who know that Raymond is not the real Raymond Reddington, but an imposter who took over his identity over 30 years ago.

Season 1[]

The Freelancer[]

Along with Luli Zeng, he was “the least offensive” to Harold Cooper and Diane Fowler for service in Red's security detail. He is Red's driver. When Liz visits Floriana Campo's room after being told Red had hired the Freelancer, it is Dembe who is on guard outside the door. He follows her inside and watches while Campo dies. Back at the Post Office, while Dembe is changing Donald Ressler sees the mark of the Eberhardt Cartel on his shoulder.


He and Luli Zeng pick up Elizabeth Keen and Raymond Reddington, after Wujing drops them off, in Red's limousine.

The Stewmaker[]

He is with Red when he meets with Liz to tell her that Hector Lorca has contacted him about a new identity. He answers the phone in Haiti when Liz calls to advise Red that Lorca's trial has been abandoned. He drives Red's limousine to Stanley R. Kornish's cabin after stopping to buy meat.

The Courier[]

He drives Liz and Red to the location where Seth Nelson is buried. He performs CPR on Nelson.

Gina Zanetakos[]

He is with Red when Liz arrives to ask Red about Max Ruddiger. He accompanies Red while he makes a new deal with Max Ruddiger, possibly to intimidate Max, as during the negotiations he stands behind Max.

Frederick Barnes[]

He is with Red at his tailors when Red calls the tip-line regarding the subway attack. He remains while Red briefs Liz and Ressler on Frederick Barnes. He is surprised when Liz walks past the car when Red is on the way to Cuba. He drives Red away from the Forrester home. He accompanies Red and Luli Zeng to the house and rigs the explosive that destroys Raymond Reddington's old house.

General Ludd[]

He held a gun on Nathaniel Wolff while Red stole the hard drive containing the program for the new 100 dollar banknote design.

Anslo Garrick[]

Garrick's men capture him separately from Red. After shooting Luli, Garrick points a gun to Dembe's head to force Red to get out of the box. Red pleads with Harold to give him the code, which Harold refuses. Red then tries to revive Ressler to extract the code from him, but he remains unconscious. Dembe urges him to say goodbye. They recite Al-Ikhlas, a chapter from the Qur'an “(Say: Allah, the One and Only; [1] Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; [2] He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; [3] And there is none comparable unto Him. [4])” together and the screen faded to black with a gun shot sound.

You can listen Al-Ikhlas: Al-Ikhlas Video

Red says, “سلام يا أخي / salaam ya akhi” which translates to “goodbye, my brother.”

As an Islamic teaching and a verse in the Quran , Allah says that “The believers are but Brothers, so make settlement between your brothers. And fear Allah that you may receive Mercy.”

Anslo Garrick: Conclusion[]

He attempts to rescue Red after the Post Office is retaken by the FBI. Later, he leads the raid on the communications outpost; however he is unable to prevent the destruction of the primary hard drives.

The Good Samaritan[]

Dembe is back in his familiar role, as Raymond Reddington's driver and shadow. When Red catches the associate of the man spying on Elizabeth and Tom Keen's home, Dembe is nearby. When Red calls Liz about The Good Samaritan, Dembe is driving. He is present when Red interrogates the people who were hired to help Anslo Garrick. He is later present when Red interrogates Aram Mojtabai.

The Alchemist[]

Every time Red meets with the activists hunting the mole for him, he is shadowed by Dembe. It is possible that the implied threat, thus presented, encourages obedience to Red's wishes.

The Cyprus Agency[]

Madeline Pratt[]

The Judge[]

Mako Tanida[]

Dembe delivers Mako Tanida's head to Donald Ressler.


Milton Bobbit[]

The Pavlovich Brothers[]

The Kingmaker[]


Berlin: Conclusion[]

Season 2[]

Lord Baltimore[]

Monarch Douglas Bank[]

Dr. James Covington[]

Dr. Linus Creel[]

The Front[]

The Mombasa Cartel[]

Dembe's history and how he met Raymond Reddington, is revealed. When he is put face to face with Geoff Perl, the leader of the Mombasa Cartel, he tells Reddington to let him go since his death now won't change the past. Reddington, praising Dembe for his forgiveness, executes Perl with a shot to the chest.

The Scimitar[]

The Decembrist[]

He is seen at the end of the episode when Red kills Milos Kirchoff.

Luther Braxton: Conclusion[]

He goes when Red confronts Peter Kotsiopulos.

Ruslan Denisov[]

The Kenyon Family[]

Dembe aids Reddington in searching for Alan Fitch's safe in Russia. He later attempts to trace the number that was found inside the safe, only to tell Reddington that the number is a number to a blind exchange and that he cannot identify who Reddington will be speaking to if he calls the number from Alan Fitch's safe.

The Deer Hunter[]

T. Earl King VI[]

The Major[]

Tom Keen[]

The Longevity Initiative[]

Vanessa Cruz[]

Leonard Caul[]

He throws out Elizabeth Keen's phone, claiming that it is compromised and he hands over a different phone, telling her to dial *77, for Nemec while he drives to a safehouse to have surgical procedures performed for Raymond Reddington. He later then provides more information on a case located somewhere where Reddington resides that could operate the Fulcrum, and he tells her that “Reddington must never know that you were there” before she leaves to find Leonard Caul. Near the end after Reddington is relocated, he fights to protect Reddington while he is under intensive care.

Quon Zhang[]

Dembe is “shot” in the chest by Agent Navabi, in an attempt to “rescue” Kenneth, only to bring him to Reddington.


Tom Connolly[]

Season 3[]

The Troll Farmer[]

Dembe is revealed to have an adult daughter, Isabella, whose infant daughter, Elle, was kidnapped by Matias Solomon for blackmail to get to him. Solomon threatens Elle's life by suggesting he gave her a poisonous nerve agent and Dembe will not get the antidote unless he wears a chemical mask and inhales. Without hesitation, Dembe takes the mask and takes several slow breaths, his eyes fluttering shut. In the mask appears to be a sleeping gas.

Marvin Gerard[]

Eli Matchett[]

The Djinn[]

Arioch Cain[]

Sir Crispin Crandall[]

Zal Bin Hasaan[]

Kings of the Highway[]

The Director[]

The Director: Conclusion[]

Mr. Gregory Devry[]

The Vehm[]

Alistair Pitt[]

Lady Ambrosia[]


The Caretaker[]

Mr. Solomon[]

Mr. Solomon: Conclusion[]

Cape May[]

The Artax Network[]

Susan Hargrave[]

Alexander Kirk[]

Alexander Kirk: Conclusion[]

Season 4[]



Miles McGrath[]


The Lindquist Concern[]

The Thrushes[]

Dr. Adrian Shaw[]

Lipet's Seafood Company[]

The Forecaster[]

The Harem[]

Natalie Luca[]

Isabella Stone[]

The Architect[]

The Apothecary[]

Dembe is revealed to have poured the drink that poisoned Red.

Dembe Zuma[]

Dembe kidnaps Aram who believes Dembe wants him to help rob Reddington. However, Dembe leads Aram to an empty locker belonging to Reddington and admits that he did pour the poisoned drink, but did not poison it. Aram realizes that Dembe actually wants his help to find the true culprit and helps Dembe access the fingerprint identification information in the locker, but finds that its heavily encrypted which could take days to break. Dembe releases Aram who starts to leave, but recognizing that Dembe truly is innocent and just wants to help, offers another more dangerous way. Working together, Aram and Dembe break into a security company to crack the encryption. As Ressler and Samar arrive, Aram manages to discover that the culprit is Kathryn Nemec, shocking Dembe as he had believed Kate to be dead. Dembe refuses to return to Reddington without proof and flees Ressler and Samar. With Aram's help, Dembe escapes. Aram later reveals to the Task Force what he learned with Dembe and his belief that Dembe really was innocent and just trying to prove it.

Dembe returns to the location where he and Reddington tried to kill Kate, only to find no sign of her. Using the prepaid phone Dembe sent to his daughter, Reddington contacts him and Dembe starts to tell Reddington what he has learned before he is attacked and wounded by the hunter that had rescued Kate. Dembe injures the man and escapes to the road where he is found and rescued by Liz and Reddington who returned to the area after learning from Aram of Dembe's discovery about Kate. As Reddington goes after the hunter and Kate, he has Liz rush Dembe to the hospital to treat his leg injury.



Dr. Bogdan Krilov[]

The Debt Collector[]

Mr. Kaplan[]

Mr. Kaplan: Conclusion[]

Season 5[]

Smokey Putnum[]

Greyson Blaise[]

Miss Rebecca Thrall[]

The Endling[]

Ilyas Surkov[]

The Travel Agency[]

The Kilgannon Corporation[]

Ian Garvey[]

After Liz and Tom are severely injured by Ian Garvey and his men, Dembe helps Reddington rescue them. Dembe observes that Tom has lost a lot of blood and doubts their chances of survival. With the help of a police escort arranged by Samar, Dembe rushes Liz and Tom to the hospital while Reddington rides in the backseat with the dying couple. As the doctors desperately work to save Liz and Tom's lives, Reddington is forced to wait outside in the car with Dembe who takes his hand in comfort.


The Informant[]

Abraham Stern[]

The Cook[]

The Invisible Hand[]

Mr. Raleigh Sinclair III[]

Pattie Sue Edwards[]

The Capricorn Killer[]

Anna-Gracia Duerte[]

Zarak Mosadek[]

Ian Garvey: Conclusion[]

Nicholas T. Moore[]

Lawrence Dane Devlin[]

Sutton Ross[]

Season 6[]

Dr. Hans Koehler[]

The Corsican[]

The Pharmacist[]

The Pawnbrokers[]

Alter Ego[]

The Ethicist[]

General Shiro[]

Marko Jankowics[]

Minister D[]

The Cryptobanker[]

Bastien Moreau[]

Bastien Moreau: Conclusion[]

Robert Vesco[]

The Osterman Umbrella Company[]

Olivia Olson[]

Lady Luck[]

The Third Estate[]


The Brockton College Killer[]

Dembe leaves Red, saying that he must travel his own journey.

Guillermo Rizal[]

Anna McMahon[]

Robert Diaz[]

When Reddington is held at gunpoint by Anna McMahon, Dembe saves him by killing McMahon, saying that his path led him back to Reddington.

Season 7[]

Louis T. Steinhil[]

Louis T. Steinhil: Conclusion[]

Les Fleurs Du Mal[]


Norman Devane[]

Dr. Lewis Powell[]

Hannah Hayes[]

The Hawaladar[]

Orion Relocation Services[]

Katarina Rostova[]

Victoria Fenberg[]

Cornelius Ruck[]

Newton Purcell[]

Twamie Ullulaq[]

Gordon Kemp[]

Nyle Hatcher[]


Roy Cain[]

The Kazanjian Brothers[]

Season 8[]


Katarina Rostova: Conclusion[]

16 Ounces[]

Elizabeth Keen[]

The Fribourg Confidence[]

The Wellstone Agency[]

Chemical Mary[]

Ogden Greeley[]

The Cyranoid[]

Dr. Laken Perillos[]

Captain Kidd[]




The Russian Knot[]

Nicholas Obenrader[]

Ivan Stepanov[]

The Protean[]

Balthazar ‘Bino’ Baker[]

Godwin Page[]



Season 9[]

The Skinner[]

In the 2 year time skip, it is shown that Dembe joined the FBI. He and his FBI partner were undercover at the docks for 6 months trying to capture unbeknownst to them, the Skinners, until the deal went wrong with his partner killed. Dembe is shot but survives. When he's in the hospital, Harold Cooper visits him and Dembe reveals he has not seen or talked to Reddington in over 18 months.

The Skinner: Conclusion[]

The SPK[]

The Avenging Angel[]

Benjamin T. Okara[]

Dr. Roberta Sand, Ph.D.[]

Between Sleep & Awake[]

Dr. Razmik Maier[]

Boukman Baptiste[]

It is shown that Boukman Baptiste is trying to find Dembe to exact his revenge on Dembe for killing his son, Daniel. Dembe is caught by Baptiste and is shown that Dembe's daughter is in trouble and possibly dead.

Flashbacks show why Dembe wants to become a FBI agent. First shown with Marvin Gerard, who urges Dembe to takeover Reddington's empire as his most likely successor. Secondly showing, Dembe talking about joining the FBI and straining his relationship with the criminal enterprise that he's been long a part of with his daughter, Isabella Zuma. She disagrees with him saying that he shouldn't become a cop as a black man and lists the black victims of police killings. He understands that he could have had the same thing happen to him and there is injustice but he has seen justice being served. She storms off angry and hurt.

Arcane Wireless[]

The Conglomerate[]

The Chairman[]

Genuine Models, Inc.[]

Eva Mason[]

Andrew Kennison[]

Helen Maghi[]

El Conejo[]

Laszlo Jankowics[]

The Bear Mask[]

Caelum Bank[]

Marvin Gerard, Conclusion: Part 1[]

Marvin Gerard, Conclusion: Part 2[]

Season 10[]

The Night Owl[]

The Whaler[]

The Four Guns[]

The Hyena[]

The Dockery Affair[]

Dr. Laken Perillos: Conclusion[]

The Freelancer: Part 2[]

The Troll Farmer: Part 2[]

The Troll Farmer: Part 3[]

The Postman[]

The Man in the Hat[]

Dr. Michael Abani[]

The Sicilian Error of Color[]

The Nowhere Bride[]

The Hat Trick[]

Blair Foster[]

The Morgana Logistics Corporation[]


Room 417[]

Arthur Hudson[]

Raymond Reddington: Part 1[]

After being arrested for his connection to Red, Dembe is broken out by him, but Dembe refuses to go with Red. A standoff ensues with Arthur Hudson that Dembe tries to diffuse, but he's shot in the neck by Hudson and severely wounded, prompting Reddington to kill Hudson. Taking Dembe, Reddington rushes him away.

Raymond Reddington: Good Night[]

Reddington rushes Dembe to a nursing home where he receives treatment and a blood transfusion from Reddington. Dembe survives thanks to the treatment, but he is left unconscious and recovering in the nursing home. Dembe later wakes up and is filled in on everything that's happened. The Attorney General decides not to file charges against Dembe, but he revokes his status as an active agent. Dembe tells Cooper that he's been thinking and decided to get out of a life that puts him in front of or behind guns. The 2 reflect on the end of the Task Force, about death and Red. Getting emotional, Dembe declares that their time with Red was not about the end, but about the adventure that they undertook together.

Unanswered Questions[]

  1. How did Dembe escape from the Eberhardt Cartel?
    1. A: He could have been sold by the cartel as a child soldier to a mercenary organization. He later escaped during a battle in Africa.
    2. A: His escape was facilitated by Raymond Reddington.
    3. A: When he was 14, he was left chained without food or water in a basement, because he was no longer useful as a child soldier.
  2. Why is the relationship between Dembe and Raymond Reddington so personal? Red's relationship with Luli Zeng was limited to the professional/business.
    1. A: Red and Luli Zeng exchanged a passionate kiss when she and Dembe were brought in.
    2. A: Red and Dembe exchanged verses from Al-Ikhlas, which is intensely personal and close.
    3. A: Red and Kathryn Nemec are obviously close, as Nemec calls Red “Dearie”.
    4. A: Newton Phillips did not fight Red when Red was about to kill him, only asking that he “Make it look like an accident” for his wife.
    5. A: All of Red's associates are close, all of them owe Red on a personal level, and I suspect Red owes them too.
    6. A: Reddington has been Dembe's foster father since the age of 14.


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