BRITAIN’s favourite Rasta poet Benjamin Zephaniah wants Usain Bolt to come to South Holland and inspire local schoolkids.
Born in Birmingham of Jamaican parents, now living in Moulton Seas End and having celebrated Jamaica’s 50 years of independence last week with the star gold medallist, if anyone can make it happen, Benjamin can.
Back home after performing at a massive independence party in the O2’s Jamaica House that followed Bolt’s world-beating 100m run, he said: “I know Blake and Bolt and retired heptathlete Denise Lewis.
“I feel really lucky. I got to know Bolt because I’m professor of poetry at Brunel University where he trains when he’s in the UK.
“It’s not just him, there’s a whole legacy of Jamaican runners and generally, when it comes to sports and arts and culture, Jamaica’s done amazingly well for a country the size of Lincolnshire.”
Benjamin performed at Birmingham’s 50th Independence Cultural Extravaganza and Farewell to the Jamaican athletes at Symphony Hall, in the city where the Jamaican team was based before they moved to the Olympic village.
He was second on the bill after Musical Youth and other stars that night included Jamelia, Jimmy James, Jaki Graham and Count Prince Miller. Proceeds from the event went towards the Jamaican Athletic Administrative Association for sports development in Jamaica.
He said: “Birmingham’s my home city but Moulton here in Lincolnshire is my real home. I’ve been here quite a few years now and I love it.”
He has also got involved in working with children in local schools as an inspirational teacher of poetry, English language and literature.
He said: “What I want to see for the Olympic legacy is not a boast for how many golds we’ve got but the promotion of healthy living and sport as a way of encouraging young people to live well.
“How can it happen when locally organisations like the Lincs South East School Sports Partnership have lost their funding and schools have lost their fields?”
Though he was caught up in all the excitement in London while the Olympics were under way, Benjamin said: “I’m not really into the Olympics or competive sport though I believe in eating well and looking after your body, which you have to do to be good at sport.
“I was disappointed that the big Olympic sponsors were manufacturers of food and drink that none of the athletes I know would take. It should be all about promoting health, shouldn’t it?”