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Benjamin Zephaniah facts: Cause of death, age, net worth, wife and children revealed

Benjamin Zephaniah was a British writer, dub poet and actor who died on 7 December 2023.

He was known for his novels, plays, and activism on issues such as racism, animal rights, and social justice.

He was one of Britain’s top 50 post-war writers, according to The Times in 2008.

Benjamin Zephaniah
Benjamin Zephaniah death: British writer and poet known for his work on race and racism dies, aged 65

Benjamin Zephaniah cause of death

Zephaniah died on 7 December 2023 after being diagnosed with a brain tumour eight weeks previously.

“It is with great sadness and regret that we announce the death of our beloved Husband, Son, and Brother in the early hours of this morning (7 December),” a statement posted on his social media channels read. “Benjamin was diagnosed with a brain tumour eight weeks ago.

“Benjamin’s wife was by his side throughout and was with him when he passed. We shared him with the world and we know many will be shocked and saddened by this news,” the statement continued. “Benjamin was a true pioneer and innovator, he gave the world so much.

“Through an amazing career, including a huge body of poems, literature, music, television, radio, Benjamin leaves us with a joyful and fantastic legacy.”

Benjamin Zephaniah

Benjamin Zephaniah age

Benjamin Zephaniah was 65 years old when he died on 7 December 2023. He was born on 15 April 1958 in Birmingham, England.

He was the son of a Barbadian postman and a Jamaican nurse. A dyslexic, he attended an approved school but left aged 13 unable to read or write.

During his childhood he was given an old, manual typewriter which he says inspired him to become a writer. It is now in the collection of Birmingham Museums Trust.

Zephaniah wrote that his poetry was strongly influenced by the music and poetry of Jamaica and what he called “street politics”.

His first performance was in church when he was 11 years old, and by the age of 15, his poetry was already known among Handsworth’s Afro-Caribbean and Asian communities.

As a young man, Zephaniah received a criminal record and served a prison sentence for burglary.

Tired of the limitations of being a black poet communicating with black people only, he decided to expand his audience, and headed to London at the age of 22.

While living in London, Zephaniah was caught up in the 1980s race riots and experienced racism on a regular basis.

“They happened around me. Back then, racism was very in your face. There was the National Front against black and foreign people and the police were also very racist. I got stopped four times after I bought a BMW when I became successful with poetry. I kept getting stopped by the police so I sold it.”

Benjamin Zephaniah net worth

Benjamin Zephaniah’s net worth is estimated to be around $1.1 million to $1.5 million as 2023.

His main source of income was his work as a writer, poet, actor and musician.

He starred in TV shows like Peaky Blinders, published numerous poetry books and novels, and performed his poetry in various styles and venues.

Benjamin Zephaniah

Benjamin Zephaniah wife

Zephaniah was married to Amina Zephaniah, a theatre administrator, from 1990 to 2001.

They met at a theatre where Zephaniah was performing his plays and Amina was working as a staff member.

They divorced after 11 years of marriage due to Zephaniah’s violent and abusive behaviour, which he blamed on his upbringing and family background.

In May 2018, in an interview of BBC Radio Five Live, Zephaniah admitted that he had been violent to a former partner, confessing to having hit her. He said:

“The way I treated some of my girlfriends was terrible. At one point I was violent. I was never like one of these persons who have a girlfriend, who’d constantly beat them, but I could lose my temper sometimes… There was one girlfriend that I had, and I actually hit her a couple of times, and as I got older I really regretted it. It burned my conscience so badly. It really ate at me, you know. And I’m a meditator. It got in the way of my meditation.”

Benjamin Zephaniah children

Benjamin Zephaniah did not have any biological children with his former wife Amina Zephaniah. He also did not adopt or use surrogacy to have children.

However, he did write many books and poems for children and teenagers, such as Talking Turkeys, Face, and Refugee Boy.

He also received many letters from children who loved his poetry and books. He once said: “I can’t have kids and I used to find that tough. There were lots of years of trying and tests, but now I am easy with.

Benjamin Zephaniah illness

Benjamin Zephaniah died on 7 December 2023, at the age of 65, after being diagnosed with a brain tumour eight weeks.


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Simon Kabutey
Simon Kabutey
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