Benjamin Zephaniah

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Benjamin Zephaniah

Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah is a Rastafarian writer and dub poet, and is well known in contemporary English literature.

He was born on April 15 1958 in Handsworth, Birmingham, England where he lived with his family. In 1968, he gave his first performance in a church, and by 1973, he was well known in his hometown for his art.

He published his first book of poems, Pen Rhythm, in 1980, which was so well received three editions were published. His album Rasta, which featured The Wailers' first recording since the death of Bob Marley as well as a tribute to Nelson Mandela, gained him international prestige and topped the Yugoslavian pop charts. It was because of this recording that he was introduced to the political prisoner and soon to be South African president, and in 1996, Mandela requested that Zephaniah host the president's Two Nations Concert at London's Royal Albert Hall.

In November 2003, Zephaniah wrote in The Guardian that he was turning down the invitation to accept the honour of the position of Officer of the Order of British Empire (OBE) award from Queen Elizabeth II since it reminded him of "thousands of years of brutality, it reminds me of how my foremothers were raped and my forefathers brutalized.". He continued to say "Stick it, Mr. Blair and Mrs. Queen, stop going on about empire." It was unusual to do so publicly since the convention for rejecting the award is to do so privately. He conceded that he had nothing against the Queen personally, and that "She's a bit stiff but a nice old lady,".

Benjamin Zephaniah is a self-described passionate vegan and is an honorary patron of the UK based Vegan Society. He is also a fan of Aston Villa Football Club.

Discography

  • Dub Ranting (1982)
  • Rasta (1983)
  • Big Boys Don't Make Girls Cry (1984)
  • Free South Africa (1986)
  • Us An Dem (1990)
  • Crisis (1992)
  • Back To Roots (1995)
  • Belly Of De Beast (1996)
  • Dancing Tribes (with Back to Base). (Single) MP Records, 1999
  • Illegal (with Swayzak). (Single) Medicine Label, 2000

Books

  • Pen Rhythm
  • The Dread Affair
  • Rasta Time In Palestine
  • City Psalms
  • Talking Turkeys
  • Funky Chickens
  • Propa Propaganda
  • Too Black, Too Strong

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