Benjamin Zephaniah Edwardx, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

As the son of a Barbadian postman and a Jamaican nurse. He had to drop out of school at the age of 13 due to his inability to read or write effectively. It was only until he became an adult when he learned he was dyslexic. Despite this, his love for poetry deepened. Zephaniah first performed in church when he was 10 years old, much influenced by Jamaican music and poetry. His poetry was already well-known within Handsworth’s Afro-Caribbean and Asian communities by the age of 15. Benjamin wanted to broaden his audience, therefore, moved to London at the age of 22. Zephaniah encountered racism on a frequent basis whilst living in London during the 1980s rioting. Despite this, he was able to produce a number of poetry collections. Benjamin’s writings included his own experiences with anti-Black racism in the UK. Zephaniah was offered an appointment as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2003, but publicly declined as he considers himself anti-empire and because the word “empire” conjures up images of slavery and brutality dating back thousands of years. Zephaniah has ventured with music and acting in addition to his literary work and playwrights and is currently appearing in the criminal drama series Peaky Blinders. Zephaniah received an honorary doctorate from the University of Birmingham on July 17, 2008. In The Times list of the 50 greatest post-war writers, he was ranked number 48. In his poem “The British (serves 60 million),” he uses a recipe as an allegory to emphasise the need of embracing Britain’s multi-cultural character and the virtue of equality for all.


I wish we didn’t need a Black History Month. But we really do. We need it now more than ever.” – Benjamin Zephaniah