Radical Music Videos: Benjamin Zephaniah

In this "Empire Writes Back" edition, Howard University professor R. Victoria Arana recentley gave an interview with Foreign Policy in Focus on British post colonial literature and its impact.

From Foreign Policy in Focus:

E. Ethelbert Miller: Briefly describe the political, social and economic issues that have shaped the literature.

Arana: Scholars have conveniently labeled this particular “boom” a case of the “Empire writing back.” The first wave of black British writers (from 1950 though the 1980s) considered themselves post-colonial and addressed issues relating to colonialism, its cultural legacies and hang-ups. Those British-born writers publishing in the 1990s and 2000s, however, tend to think of themselves as more forward-looking, more concerned with contemporary life in Britain and their connections to people all around the world, not even necessarily to the countries from which their forbears emigrated...

...Miller: How do black writers in Britain approach their writing while living in an empire that has seen a political decline?

Arana: The fact of the decline per se for many is seen as a plus since it means that the empire is not over-lording and exploiting colonies in the old ways. Benjamin Zephaniah, for example, an edgy, radical poet from Birmingham with a huge following in England, was offered an Order of the British Empire, a highly coveted honor, and he flatly turned it down, quipping that the Queen must not have been reading any of his poetry before deciding on the award or he certainly would not have been named. His rejection of the title hasn’t hurt him with the establishment; he is a regular recipient of generous prizes and travel funds to visit foreign lands as a cultural emissary of Britain...

Meanwhile in Trinidad, apparently there is no love for V.S. Naipaul.

From The New York Times:

...In the nearly six decades since Naipaul left for England, the relationship [between Naipaul and Trinidadians] has taken on the character of a bad marriage, with Trinidad setting Naipaul up to spurn it and Naipaul obliging. When asked about Naipaul, Trinidadians will first talk not about his books, though they are widely read in schools here, but about the idea that he has turned his back on the country. “He’s a bit salty about being Trinidadian,” a local bar owner and guide said when I asked him to show me Naipaul’s ancestral home. Others put it less diplomatically: “He hates Trinidad” was a common refrain...

Speaking of Zephaniah, who we have much love for here on this blog, check out a classic music video by him:

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