A new year’s present – Un regalo per l’anno nuovo

Benjamin Zephaniah

Benjamin Zephaniah at a primary school from the website spaldingtoday.co.uk

I bought “The Guardian” last week and I found the most beautiful Christmas present. I read an interview with Benjamin Zephaniah, and I started to listen to his music. It is just amazing!

My first good resolution for the new year is to know deeper the works of this brilliant poet-writer-musician.

I wish you a new year full of books, music, friends and love!

And “never give up the fight”!

Ho comprato il “The Guardian” la settimana scorsa e ho trovato il regalo di Natale più bello di quest’anno. Ho letto un’ intervista a Benjamin Zephaniah, e ho cominciato ad ascoltare la sua musica. E’ formidabile!

Il mio primo buon proposito per l’anno è quindi di conoscere più approfonditamente le opere di questo geniale poeta-scrittore-musicista.

Via auguro un anno nuovo pieno di libri, musica, amici e amore!

E “mai abbondonare la battaglia”!


“Who’s Who

I used to think nurses

Were women,

I used to think police

Were men,

I used to think poets

Were boring,

Until I became one of them.”

“When is a man not a man?

Once upon a time I was a bad boy, I didn’t go to school when I should have, I was a burglar, a car thief, a middle man, a womaniser and a woman beater. I was many things but I have repented now, ‘reformed’ (as they say), I have learnt how to channel my energy into more positive areas, but every now and then my past does come back to me in the most strangest of ways. For example, not very long ago I was dining with an ex-girlfriend of mine, most of the conversation was about the bad old days when I was ‘big’ in Handsworth and all those police who would spend so much looking for me. After a while we got on to the subject of our past relationship and in particular one day when I ‘lost my temper’ and became very violent. I began to get down on my knees and beg forgiveness proclaiming that I would never do that kind of thing now when she said “That’s why I would not want you now, now you are a wimp not a man”. I touched my penis and my breasts to make sure my male type parts were still male like, then she went on to accuse me of spending too much time with leftist men and over educated black women. “In the real world, men are men and women are women and it’s a man’s job to keep things in order …….., it’s even in the Bible”, she said.

To be extremely honest, I’ve been called a wimp more times than I’ve ever been called a nigger, I am infertile, I won’t eat meat, I cry when I see animals suffer, I do yoga, kiss flowers and I prefer a day on the Welsh mountains to any inner city day. I have been called a wimp for all these things and more. What really hurts is when I am accused of losing touch with my roots, not my African Roots, they mean losing touch with the lifestyle I had before, when I was a man. These are roots I don’t want to go back to, here the opposite of a wimp was a man and a man had many children, man ate meat, man don’t cry for anything, man do boxing, football, man drive BMW, man don’t take no shit from any woman or man, or man kills man. Yes man, dat’s life man, it’s a man’s world and man must be man enough to deal with it …………man.

As a writer I think it’s very important to stay in touch with what is happening ‘on the streets’ and as one of the first generation of Rastafarians in Britain we were forced to spend most of our time on the streets, I know few people who are qualified to tell me anything about ‘the jungle out there’. Many of us have survived the jungle and are now proud wimps, we wimps are into rap music but we refuse to call women hoes (whores), bitches, tings and gee’s.

We are into reggae but we are not out to kill all the botty boys (gay men) because someone tells us to with the help of a multinational record company, actually some of my best friends are Rastafarian, heterosexual wimps who have been known to tune into Radio 4.

I believe that despite all the machismo that spewed out of me in my other life, I was a true wimp. I did very little independent thinking and most of my behaviour was geared towards being part of the gang, on at least two occasions I almost lost my life as I endeavoured to look good in front of my friends.

I am definitely not a model citizen, I still think it’s healthy to break the law at least once a day, even if it’s just a little token gesture, something to add drama to the day. And I am not trying to give the impression that I am some kind of non-sexist, new man type of guy, I’m simply saying that one word can mean different things to different people. No one’s perfect (as they say) but I think that I’m a better man now, my ex-girlfriend believes I stopped being a man when I lost the need to control her and that the physical abuse she received was not abuse but her man keeping things in order. I say there are human beings and human non-beings, a male can be either one. Human beings have to try to understand themselves and others, they should have compassion and seek truth with independent thought. The so called ‘men’ are now in crisis, they have just realised that many of them are dying of prostrate and testicular cancer but men don’t talk about these things, and hundreds of men are committing suicide because they cannot take the responsibility of being a man, physically and spiritually the man is dying of ignorance.

Listen man, I don’t want to be a man if it means that I must act all my life and not get paid. I just want to be a male wimp, with children because once upon a time I was a man, and it was heavy……….man.”

Messaggio per gli amici/che che non sanno una parola di inglese (message to my italian friends who doesn’t know English at all): oggi devo pulire tutta la casa e quindi non ce la farò a tradurre, seppure penosamente come è nelle mie possibilità, le opere di Benjamin Zephaniah che ho riportato. Ad ogni modo potete guardare il video, ascoltare la musica, e magari visitare il sito che vi riporto sotto.

“Enjoy it”- Gustatevelo!



Una risposta a “A new year’s present – Un regalo per l’anno nuovo

  1. Pingback: Un incontro con un libro ed altre coincidenze | nonsolochimica


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