“We shared him with the world and we know many will be shocked and saddened by this news," the family said.
After growing up in Birmingham, Zephaniah moved to London and published his debut poetry collection, 'Pen Rhythm,' in 1980. He continued to publish 13 more poetry books, often delving into political subjects, such as critiquing the British legal system in 'The Dread Affair' (1985) and reflecting on his takeaways and experiences in Palestine in 'Rasta Time in Palestine' (1990).
Beyond poetry, Zephaniah further went on to write novels, plays, and wrote an autobiography in 2018 titled 'The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah,' earning a nomination at Britain's National Book Awards, as reported by Variety.
He also made numerous television appearances, notably playing the preacher Jeremiah Jesus in 'Peaky Blinders,' starring in 14 episodes across six seasons. His acting extended to shows like 'EastEnders,' 'The Bill,' and 'Zen Motoring,' as per Variety.
Along with acting and writing, he had a music career as well. He collaborated with the late Irish singer Sinead O’Connor on 'Empire' and also with British musician Howard Jones and drummer Trevor Morais for his album 'Naked.' He would also perform with his group - The Benjamin Zephaniah Band.
Mr. Zephaniah also strongly believed in radical changes in the society. He said, “I'm an anarchist, I believe this needs to be torn down, I believe we need to start again, I don't believe that we need governments and the kind of models that we have,” he said. “But I'm also aware that we're not going to achieve that now.”
Known for his distinctive dreadlocks and speaking in a local accent, Prof. Zephaniah was outspoken about his views on racism, refugees, revolutions, and the importance of healthy eating.