Socialist Worker

Benjamin’s Britain: Zephaniah’s multi-racial view of the country

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2008

Untitled, from Shopna Series by Suki Dhanda. Part of Brit Islam

Untitled, from Shopna Series by Suki Dhanda. Part of Brit Islam

Poet and author Benjamin Zephaniah has curated an exhibition of photographs for the National Portrait Gallery. It is an incredibly uplifting experience.

This is the first time Zephaniah has curated a show. The selections focus on four themes.

Brit Islam addresses the demonisation of Muslims after 9/11, especially by some sections of the media. This includes images of Muslims from the 1950s to the present day.

Benjamin Zephaniah said, “The experiences of my Muslim friends remind me of the way rastas were treated in the 1970s and 1980s - being stopped and searched.

“People need a bogeyman and now it’s the turn of the Muslims.”

Face Me is images of people with facial disfigurements, looking at the discrimination they have to undergo.

Punky Reggae Party brings together images of musicians across different musical styles and decades.

It includes images of Debbie Harry, Aswad, and Siouxsie and the Banshees

Animals Like Me shows Zephaniah’s vegan stance and expresses his love for all living things.

With Zephaniah’s optimistic poems displayed on each wall, this exhibition is a celebration of multi-racial Britain.

Make sure you check out the rest of the National Portrait Gallery while you’re visiting Benjamin’s Britain.

Benjamin’s Britain

National Portrait Gallery, central London>
Until 10 September
Go to

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Article information

Sat 8 Jul 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2008
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