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Ras Benjamin Zephania- resisting Babylon

Time Zone: EST (New York, Toronto)
Messenger: zionI Sent: 7/25/2006 10:13:38 PM

Here is a Dread Bredrin turning down one of UK's highest awards. Rasta can't be bought:

"Rasta poet publicly rejects his OBE

Merope Mills
Thursday November 27, 2003
The Guardian

The leading poet Benjamin Zephaniah has publicly rejected an OBE from the
Queen in protest at British government policies, including the decision to
go to war in Iraq.

Writing exclusively in the Guardian today, Zephaniah breaks with the
convention that those rejecting honours should do so privately when he
openly dismissed the award as a legacy of colonialism.

The Rastafarian poet argues that the very name of the Order of the British
Empire reminds him of "thousands of years of brutality - it reminds me of
how my foremothers were raped and my forefathers brutalised".

Article continues
Zephaniah also challenges the prime minister to clarify the "suspicious
circumstances" surrounding his cousin's death in police custody.

Zephaniah was perhaps an unusual choice to be nominated for an OBE: one of
his poems, Bought and Sold, criticises contemporaries who compromise their
work by accepting honours.

Today, he condemns those who permit ego to win out over artistic integrity.
Courting popular figures with honours is "what cool Britannia is all about",
he writes. "It gives OBEs to cool rock stars, successful businesswomen and
blacks who would be militant in order to give the impression that it is
inclusive." He feels such people with OBEs after their names have "been

The poet writes: "Me? I thought, OBE me? Up yours, I thought ... You can't
fool me, Mr Blair. You want to privatise us all; you want to send us to war;
you stay silent when we need you to speak for us, preferring to be the voice
of the USA."

Zephaniah joins the ranks of luminaries such as the actor Helen Mirren and
the film director Ken Loach who turned down similar honours. In keeping with
the request of the prime minister's office, however, they kept tight-lipped
about the offer until some years later.

Downing Street refused to comment on the poet's rejection. A spokesman said:
"We don't discuss honours lists. It is a matter for Mr Zephaniah."

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Haile Selassie I