Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah is a British Jamaican rastafarian writer and dub poet. He grew up in Jamaica and in the Handsworth district of Birmingham.
In the guardian Thursday 27th November 2003;
I woke up on the morning of November 13th wondering how the government could be overthrown and who could replace it, and then I noticed a letter from the prime minister’s office. It said ‘The prime minister has asked me to inform you, in strict confidence, that he has in mind, on the occasionof the forthcoming list of New year’so honours to submit your name to the Queen with a recommendation that Majesty may be graciously pleased to approve that you be appointed an officer of the order of the British empire.
Me? I thought OBE me? up yours, I thought. I get angry when I hear that word ’empire’, it reminds me of slavery, it reminds me of thousands of years of brutality, it reminds me of how my foremost hers 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. It is because of this ides of empire that black people like myself don’t even know our true names or our historical culture. 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. I am profoundly anti-empire.