Benjamin Zephaniah

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Poet, playwright, author (1958)
Sun Mar 08 2020
By   Bhobi

British poet Benjamin Zephaniah hit the headlines when he declined his O.B.E.(Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for his outstanding contribution in the British Literature in 2003. The 61 years old Benjamin is best known as dub poet and Rastafarian. Jacqueline Wilson is another British novelist.

Benjamin was born as Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah on April 15, 1958, in Handsworth, Birmingham. His father was a Barbadian postman, and his mother was a nurse from Jamaica. At the age of thirteen, Benjamin suffered from reading disorders and dropped out of school. But now, the dyslexic kid has turned himself into the world-renowned king of the literature.

Who was Benjamin Married to?

When it comes to marriages and affairs, Benjamin is always reserved. But everyone is well aware of his marriage to Amina. Amina is a theatre administrator by profession. Benjamin and Amina probably met during the production of one of his plays. They dated several years before finally tying the knot on March 17, 1990. Like aforesaid, Benjamin kept his wedding a secret to the outsiders. Therefore, only the intimate guests were invited for his special day.

Benjamin attended the event in purple and lilac outfits
Image: Benjamin with writer Diana Evans with the Literature Award at the South Bank Sky Arts Awards.
Source: Getty Images

But Benjamin was never good at relationships and love life. His violent nature created a huge gap between him and Amina. Furthermore, the pair never had any kids. Their divorce was settled in 2000. After putting a halt in his first marriage, Benjamin seems to keep himself away from marital life.

Benjamin has lived for som time in China's capital Beijing
Image: Benjamin at Chenjiagou primary school before June 1 International Children's Day on May 31, 2012, in Henan Province of China.
Source: Getty Images

For most of his girlfriends and partners, Benjamin had been violent and cruel. He admitted to hitting one of his former girlfriends. Later, he spoke of how he was raised in a violent family where his dad hit his mom. Although he regrets what he did and has donated money for women refugees, Benjamin is no fit as a perfect partner to many women. Writer Amy Siskin is an American feminist and women activist.

Benjamin's Net Worth

As The Times list of Britain's top 50 post-war writers, Benjamin is well paid for his works. His net worth might cross $20 million or more. Besides poetry, Benjamin has written and published novels, children's books, and plays. His best selling novels are; Face(1999) and Refugee Boy(2001). Similarly, Benjamin's children's books, We are Britain(2002), J is for Jamaica(2006), My Story(2011), and When I Grow Up(2011) are popular in the school's curriculum.

Take a look at Benjamin's commentary:

Benjamin has appeared in the British comedy series Didn't You Kill My Brother(1987), Farendj(1889), and Peaky Blinders since 2013 as Jeremiah Jesus. He has also made guest appearances in the music videos of Sinead O'Connor, Dubioza Kolektiv, and Toddla T

Why did Benjamin Refuse his O.B.E.?

For Benjamin, why he declined Britain's highest honor was simple. It's just he is a revolutionary and has no faith in political systems. Whenever he hears the word "empire," Benjamin said;

it reminds me of slavery, it reminds of thousands of years of brutality, it reminds me of how my foremothers were raped and my forefathers brutalised. It is because of this concept of empire that my British education led me to believe that the history of black people started with slavery and that we were born slaves, and should therefore be grateful that we were given freedom by our caring white masters.

He added;

I am not one of those who are obsessed with their roots, and I'm certainly not suffering from a crisis of identity; my obsession is about the future and the political rights of all people. Benjamin Zephaniah OBE - no way Mr Blair, no way Mrs Queen. 

Besides O.B.E., Benjamin was awarded honorary doctorates by the University of North London, the University of Central England, Staffordshire University, London South Bank University, the University of Exeter University of Westminster and University of Birmingham.

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