Benjamin Zephaniah – Rong Radio

REST IN PEACE to the legendary Benjamin Zephaniah… The highly acclaimed author, poet, novelist and playwright has sadly passed away. Here’s his poem Rong Radio:

Comments (15)

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  1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    Thank you for that.

    He – amongst others – showed that rap – and other ‘demotic’ types of poetry – could deliver powerful and insightful messages. Tom Leonard did the same with his poems written in phonetic West of Scotland language.

  2. Scott Lawrance says:

    Thanks for that – brilliant! I did not know this angel – living on Vancouver Island (or anywhere in so called North America), we are so cut off from the poetic energies of the “old country”. What a loss – R.I.P. brother Benjamin. (and thanks to Alsidair Macdonald for alerting me to another voice!)

  3. babs nicgriogair says:

    “The problem is not civil disobedience, the problem is civil obedience”
    On my first listen to Revolutionary Minds ( BenjaminZephaniah record) these words, cited by the actor Matt Damon, referencing the late American historian and activist Howard Zinn, stopped me in my tracks.
    This main track also speaks on issues such as “women shall not be property” and “no one shall be judged by the color of their skin.
    Rest in Power , Benjamin
    And hopefully you’ll be catching up with Sinead and Shane somewhere more sane than this mad world.

  4. Neacailcairds says:

    Very sad, saw him on stage playing with Conflict in London many moons ago.

  5. jim ferguson says:

    deeply sad …. there can be no peace, until there’s human rights and justce!

  6. Wul says:

    Spot on.

  7. Niemand says:

    One of the great things about BZ was the way he brought people with him. He had a way of speaking and in his manner that despite some quite hard hitting things, made people listen and consider even if they didn’t alway agree. And the reason it worked was because he himself was a genuinely deep thinker, willing to challenge his own views too. This made him trustworthy and special. It can summed up in this short poem:

    I am not de problem

    But I bare de brunt

    Of silly playground taunts

    An racist stunts,

    I am not de problem

    I am a born academic

    But dey got me on de run

    Now I am branded athletic,

    I am not de problem

    If yu give I a chance

    I can teach yu of Timbuktu

    I can do more dan dance,

    I am not de problem

    I greet yu wid a smile

    Yu put me in a pigeon hole

    But I a versatile.

    These conditions may affect me

    As I get older,

    An I am positively sure

    I have no chips on me shoulders,

    Black is not de problem

    Mother country get it right,

    An just for de record,

    Sum of me best friends are white

    It is a great loss.

  8. E.Chang says:

    Dave Spart will be upset.

    1. Niemand says:

      Dave Spart doesn’t exist but hey always nice to take the piss when someone well respected and liked dies eh? Nice one.

    2. John says:

      By making such a crass comment just after BZ’s death you have not only disrespected BZ but disrespected yourself.

      1. E.Chang. says:

        I am heartbroken.I will refer myself to the Bureau of Correction immediately.

  9. SleepingDog says:

    I think it was in his refusal of an OBE that the integrity, rationality and judgement of Benjamin Zephaniah spoke most clearly to me. His own words speak best here:
    and should resound still today.

    1. Niemand says:

      Yes, agreed. His argument that it was offensive to even ask him, not primarily because of the colonial era name of the honour or even because of colonialism itself, but because it showed a profound lack of knowledge of his work (largely for which they wanted to honour him for in the first place) which so clearly shows his deep opposition to colonialism enshrined in the ‘Empire’ bit of an OBE, is very well made indeed.

      But what I always loved about BZ was the way his anger rarely came across as hostility. He once said that he had always been interested in why people behave the way they do, including racists and the like. What this says is that though he obviously hates racism and it angers him (not least on a personal level), he does not dismiss all racists as a lost cause / beneath contempt but potentially at least, redeemable, made potentially possible by that understanding.

      1. SleepingDog says:

        @Niemand, yes indeed, for those reasons… and because he was laying into poets, of course 😉

        1. Niemand says:


          ‘I used to think nurses were women.

          I used to think po-lice were men

          I used to think poets were boring

          Until I became one of dem’

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