EntertainmentBenjamin Zephaniah passes away after tragic diagnosis two months ago

Benjamin Zephaniah passes away after tragic diagnosis two months ago

Benjamin Zephaniah died in London.
Benjamin Zephaniah died in London.
Images source: © Getty Images
ed. IRO
8:34 AM EST, December 8, 2023

Benjamin Zephaniah, renowned for his role in the "Peaky Blinders" series, was not just an actor but an artist who embraced rebellion. Well-known for declining an invitation from Queen Elizabeth II herself, who sought to honor him, Zephaniah recently lost his battle with cancer, passing away on December 7th.

Zephaniah primarily saw himself as a poet, earning fame with his author's evenings. These events, imbued with a rich setting, bore more semblance to musical concerts than traditional recitals. Zephaniah, who struggled with dyslexia until he mastered reading and writing around the age of 15, was the son of a postman from Barbados and a nurse from Jamaica. He faced racism in his native Great Britain multiple times.

"After I found some success, I bought myself a BMW. I was repeatedly pulled over by the police simply because I was black. I quickly sold the car to avoid the hassle," Zephaniah recounted in an interview with 'The Guardian'.

In 2003, Zephaniah's literary contributions earned him the consideration for the Order of the Empire from Queen Elizabeth II; he respectfully declined.

"The Order of the Empire for me? I get infuriated at the mention of the term 'empire,' a reminder of an age marred with slavery and rampant brutality. An order for Benjamin Zephaniah? No, thanks, Mr. Blair. And certainly not from the Queen," he expressed his sentiments openly.

Zephaniah identified himself as an anarchist, advocating for the abolishment of the monarchy while supporting "Brexit". Though a Rastafarian, he quit smoking marijuana at 30. Embracing fresh challenges and harboring a deep curiosity for the world, he learned Mandarin for a decade and acted from 2013 to 2022, appearing in "Peaky Blinders" as Jeremiah "Jimmy" Jesus.

Zephaniah was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the beginning of October and passed away on December 7th at the age of 65.

Related content