Benjamin Zephaniah - Updated Dec 2023

Updated On November 26, 2023
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Benjamin Zephaniah

Benjamin Zephaniah is a British Poet and writer. Benjamin Zephaniah is a Rastafarian spoken-word poet who is popular for works like Pen Rhythm, The Dread Affair: Collected Poems, and Funky Chickens. He also was able to release his internationally-acclaimed spoken-word album, Rasta, in the year 1982.

Birth Facts and Education

Benjamin Zephaniah was born on April 15, 1958in Handsworth, Birmingham, England. He is 64 years old and is under the astrological sign, Aries. He holds British nationality and his full name is Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah.

The name of Benjamin’s parents is not available at the moment. However, he is the son of a Barbadian postman and a Jamaican nurse. He also has a sibling and their name is Velda Zephaniah. And, his parents raised him in the Handsworth district of Birmingham, England, which he calls the “Jamaican capital of Europe”. Talking about his childhood, he is a dyslexic and attended an approved school but left when he was 13 years old as he was unable to read or write. And, Zephaniah attended Broadway Academy.

During that time, he was given an old, manual typewriter which he says inspired him to become a writer. His manual typewriter is now in the collection of Birmingham Museums Trust. Likewise, when he was young, he received a criminal record and served a prison sentence for burglary.

Career and Professional Life

Benjamin Zephaniah’s poetry is strongly influenced by the music and poetry of Jamaica and what he calls “street politics”. And, his first performance was in church when he was 11 years old, and by the age of 15, his poetry was already popular among Handsworth’s Afro-Caribbean and Asian communities. But his poetry was limited to black people only and as he was tired of the limitations, he decided to expand his audience and headed to London when he was 22 years old.

Likewise, Benjamin was able to become actively involved in a workers’ cooperative in Stratford, London. This then led to the publication of his first book of poetry, “Pen Rhythm (Page One Books, 1980)”. He also stated that his mission is to fight the dead image of poetry in academia and to “take [it] everywhere” to people who do not read books, so he turned poetry readings into concert-like performances. Moreover, his other collections of poetry are “The Dread Affair: Collected Poems (1985)” and “Rasta Time in Palestine (1990)”.

Also, he was a poet in residence at the chambers of Michael Mansfield QC and sat in on the inquiry into Bloody Sunday and other cases. These experiences led to his Too Black, Too Strong poetry collection (2001), We Are Britain! (2002), and many others. Also, his first book of poetry for children was Talking Turkeys in the year 1994. And, in the year 1999, he wrote a novel for teenagers, Face, the first of four novels to date. Also, in the year 2016, he was able to write the forward to Angry White People: Coming Face-to-face with the British Far-right by Hsiao-Hung Pai.

Benjamin Zephaniah

Caption: Benjamin Zephaniah during QnA (Source: The Guardian)

More About Career

Benjamin Zephaniah made many minor appearances in several TV programs in the 1980s and 1990s, including The Bill, The Comic Strip Presents, and Crucial Tales. And, in the year 1990, he starred in the film “Farendj”. His other credits are Peaky Blinders and QI. Likewise, in the year 1982, he was able to release the album “Rasta” which gained him international prestige and topped the Yugoslavian pop charts. Because of this, he also got the opportunity to host the President’s Two Nations Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, in London.

Moreover, he is an honorary patron of The Vegan Society, Viva! (Vegetarians’ International Voice for Animals), and EVOLVE! Campaigns, and is an animal rights advocate. He even was able to write the foreword to Keith Mann’s book From Dusk ’til Dawn: An Insider’s View of the Growth of the Animal Liberation Movement, a book about the Animal Liberation Front. He even published “The Little Book of Vegan Poems”. Also, he has spoken extensively about his personal experiences of anti-Black racism in Britain and has incorporated his experiences in much of his written work.

He also has been able to speak in favor of the British Republic and the disestablishment of the crown. Also, in the year 2012, he joined Amnesty International in speaking out against homophobia in Jamaica. Likewise, Benjamin self-identifies as an anarchist. He also has been involved in political cases.

Benjamin Zephaniah

Caption: Benjamin Zephaniah in Peaky Blinders (Source: The Telegraph)


Benjamin Zephaniah was able to win the BBC Young Playwright’s Award. He has also received honorary doctorates from the University of North London in the year 1998, the University of Central England in 1999, Staffordshire University in 2001, London South Bank University in 2003, the University of Exeter, and the University of Westminster in 2006. He was able to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Birmingham and was listed at 48 in The Times list of 50 greatest postwar writers. Furthermore, Zephaniah received Best Original Song in the Hancocks 2008 and Talkawhile Awards for Folk Music.

Relationship Status

Benjamin Zephaniah was married for twelve years to Amina who is a theatre administrator. They divorced in the year 2001. He even admitted to hitting her when they were together. He also stated that he has hit some of his other girlfriends as well. Likewise, his family was Christian but he became a Rastafari at a very young age. He also gave up smoking cannabis in his thirties. Zephaniah is also a supporter of Aston Villa F.C. and is the patron of an Aston Villa supporters’ website.

Body Measurements

Benjamin Zephaniah has a height of 5 feet 6 inches but his weight and other body measurements are still under review. Moreover, Zephaniah has dark brown hair and dark brown eyes.

Benjamin Zephaniah

Caption: Benjamin Zephaniah posing for a picture (Source: Incredibusy)

Benjamin Zephaniah – Social Media

Benjamin Zephaniah owns his Twitter account under the name “Zephaniah” and has 68.1K followers on it. He is also active on Facebook and has had 54K followers until now.

Benjamin Zephaniah – Net Worth 2023

According to idolnetworth, Benjamin Zephaniah has a net worth of $1.1 million and his main income source must be his career as a poet and writer.