Rokhsana Fiaz OBE, Mayor of Newham, said: “Newham has the honour and privilege of being a place where Benjamin Zephaniah excelled with his creativity, deepened connections through beautiful friendships and cemented a loving bond with our borough because of its diversity. He was an inspirational campaigner and activist, and we celebrate his life for being one of Britain’s most prolific literary and artistic forces. He also towered as a giant for being amongst the country’s most vocal proponents of justice and ethics.
“Benjamin was a man who stood unflinchingly against racism and injustice. He moved to Newham in 1980 and got stuck in across a range of social justice initiatives including housing, food and child-care co-operatives. It was in Newham where he was able to publish his first book of poetry, Pen Rhythm. He loved Newham and the vibrancy of its people; alongside the uniqueness of its neighbourhoods, such as Green Street where he struck up an extraordinary lifelong friendship with manager of Newham Bookshop, Vivian Archer. Like her, so many local people are deeply saddened since the news of his death but they’ll keep Benjamin Zephaniah deep in their hearts. As he rests in peace, we will never forget his power.”