October marks Black History Month in the UK.
Each week this month, we will be exploring Black British history through the medium of poetry. This week, Angel Oak pupils have been studying ‘The British’, by Benjamin Zephaniah.
Zephaniah, a poet, musician, and author, grew up in Birmingham and has overcome discrimination and dyslexia to become one of the most important voices in British litearture. ‘The British’ is his playful take on British history in which he compares the various cultures of the British people to ingredients in a delicious dish!
The British (Serves 60 Million)
Take some Picts, Celts and Silures
And let them settle,
Then overrun them with Roman conquerors.
Remove the Romans after approximately 400 years
Add lots of Norman French to some
Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Vikings, then stir vigorously.
Mix some hot Chileans, cool Jamaicans, Dominicans,
Trinidadians and Bajans with some Ethiopians, Chinese,
Vietnamese and Sudanese.
Then take a blend of Somalians, Sri Lankans, Nigerians
Combine with some Guyanese
And turn up the heat.
Sprinkle some fresh Indians, Malaysians, Bosnians,
Iraqis and Bangladeshis together with some
Afghans, Spanish, Turkish, Kurdish, Japanese
Then add to the melting pot.
Leave the ingredients to simmer.
As they mix and blend allow their languages to flourish
Binding them together with English.
Allow time to be cool.
Add some unity, understanding, and respect for the future,
Serve with justice
Note: All the ingredients are equally important. Treating one ingredient better than another will leave a bitter unpleasant taste.
Warning: An unequal spread of justice will damage the people and cause pain. Give justice and equality to all.
There are many books by Benjamin Zephaniah in our classroom book corners, so keep an eye out for more Benjamin Zephaniah stories and poetry around the school.
And why not try writing your own poem in the style of Zephaniah’s? Show your poem to Mr Farley to receive a Head Teacher’s Award!