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.

Background[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

The Freelancer[edit | edit source]

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.

Wujing[edit | edit source]

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

The Stewmaker[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

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

Gina Zanetakos[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

Madeline Pratt[edit | edit source]

The Judge[edit | edit source]

Mako Tanida[edit | edit source]

Dembe delivers Mako Tanida's head to Donald Ressler.

Ivan[edit | edit source]

Milton Bobbit[edit | edit source]

The Pavlovich Brothers[edit | edit source]

The Kingmaker[edit | edit source]

Berlin[edit | edit source]

Berlin: Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Season 2[edit | edit source]

Lord Baltimore[edit | edit source]

Monarch Douglas Bank[edit | edit source]

Dr. James Covington[edit | edit source]

Dr. Linus Creel[edit | edit source]

The Front[edit | edit source]

The Mombasa Cartel[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

The Decembrist[edit | edit source]

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

Luther Braxton: Conclusion[edit | edit source]

He goes when Red confronts Peter Kotsiopulos.

Ruslan Denisov[edit | edit source]

The Kenyon Family[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

T. Earl King VI[edit | edit source]

The Major[edit | edit source]

Tom Keen[edit | edit source]

The Longevity Initiative[edit | edit source]

Vanessa Cruz[edit | edit source]

Leonard Caul[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

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

Karakurt[edit | edit source]

Tom Connolly[edit | edit source]

Season 3[edit | edit source]

The Troll Farmer[edit | edit source]

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.

Eli Matchett[edit | edit source]

Season 4[edit | edit source]

The Apothecary[edit | edit source]

Dembe is revealed to be part of the plan to kill Red.

Dembe Zuma[edit | edit source]

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.

Season 5[edit | edit source]

Ian Garvey[edit | edit source]

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.

Season 6[edit | edit source]

The Brockton College Killer[edit | edit source]

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

Robert Diaz[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

Unanswered Questions[edit | edit source]

  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.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

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