Skip links

Good bye Benjamin Zephaniah

Spread the love

Benjamin Zephaniah is a British Jamaican poet, writer, and musician born on April 15, 1958, in Birmingham, England. He is known for his poetry, which often deals with themes of race, politics, and social injustice, and his work as a musician and actor. Zephaniah’s poetry is characterized by its strong political and social messages, and he often addresses issues such as racism, poverty, and inequality. His writing is also known for its use of Jamaican Creole and other dialects, as well as its rhythmic, musical qualities.

Tired of the limitations of being a black poet communicating with black people only, he decided to expand his audience and headed to London at the age of twenty-two. He became actively involved in a worker’s co-operative in Stratford, London, which led to the publication of his first book of poetry, Pen Rhythm (Page One Books, 1980).  His poems were read in secondary schools and taught by the writer to students in the United Kingdom. He died early on Thursday morning after being diagnosed with a brain tumour eight weeks ago. The world has lost a titan of literature and the James Brown of tub poetry. He leaves behind an uncommon legacy  and it is impossible not to stop and

Rest in Peace, Mr. Zephaniah.

Here are some of the our special poems from Benjamin Zephaniah

Biko the Greatness

by Benjamin Zephaniah

Wickedness tried to kill greatness
In a corner of South Africa
Where they believed there were
No mothers and fathers
And
Where they believed
One could not hear the cries of another
Wickedness tried to kill greatness

Wickedness tried to build a nation
Of white tyrants
In a corner of the planet
They arrogantly downpressed
They did no overstand
As they suffered the illusion of the God complex
But these words are not for wickedness

These words are for greatness
The greatness that inspired doctors and nurses
To become educated in the art of freedom getting
The greatness that inspired educators to become liberators
And a nation of children to become great themselves

South Africans in the valley of the shadow of death
Feared no wickedness
Because greatness was at their side
And greatness was in their hearts
When the wind of change went south
Greatness was its trustee, guided by truth

Now we who witnessed the greatness
Sing and dance to his legacy,
We who muse his intelligence
Spread the good news in Reggae, Soul, Marabi
And the theatre of liberation,
Knowing that nobody dies until they’re forgotten
We chant Biko today
Biko tomorrow
Biko forever.

Wickedness tried to kill greatness
Now wickedness is dead
And greatness lives
In Islington
As he lives in Cape Town.

We Refugees

I come from a musical place
Where they shoot me for my song
And my brother has been tortured
By my brother in my land.

I come from a beautiful place
Where they hate my shade of skin
They don’t like the way I pray
And they ban free poetry.

I come from a beautiful place
Where girls cannot go to school
There you are told what to believe
And even young boys must grow beards.

I come from a great old forest
I think it is now a field
And the people I once knew
Are not there now.

We can all be refugees
Nobody is safe,
All it takes is a mad leader
Or no rain to bring forth food,
We can all be refugees
We can all be told to go,
We can be hated by someone
For being someone.

I come from a beautiful place
Where the valley floods each year
And each year the hurricane tells us
That we must keep moving on.

I come from an ancient place
All my family were born there
And I would like to go there
But I really want to live.

I come from a sunny, sandy place
Where tourists go to darken skin
And dealers like to sell guns there
I just can’t tell you what’s the price.

I am told I have no country now
I am told I am a lie
I am told that modern history books
May forget my name.

We can all be refugees
Sometimes it only takes a day,
Sometimes it only takes a handshake
Or a paper that is signed.
We all came from refugees
Nobody simply just appeared,
Nobody’s here without a struggle,
And why should we live in fear
Of the weather or the troubles?
We all came here from somewhere.

 

 

Don’t Miss Our News Updates!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

This website uses cookies to improve your web experience.
Explore
Drag