Wednesday, 20 January 2021

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Rhymin' for human rights

World Poetry Day 2017

21 March 2017 - "By celebrating poetry today, we celebrate our ability to join together, in a spirit of solidarity, to scale and climb “the cloudy summits of our time.” - Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO.

World Poetry Day is celebrated annually by the United Nations on 21 March. The purpose of this celebration is to support poetic expression, encouraging and promoting the teaching and distribution of poetry in society. World Poetry Day offers an excellent platform to share works which are inspiring, insightful and imaginative. Throughout history poetry has been used as a vehicle to spread ideas and thoughts, from the personal experiences of Maya Angelou to the political statements of William Butler Yeats.

Messages of hate and fear feature regularly across both the civic and political sphere and the United Nations recognizes that wherever there is discrimination, we can step forward to help safeguard someone's right to live free from fear and abuse. We can raise our voices for decent values. We can join others to publicly lobby for better leadership, better laws and greater respect for human dignity. “We the peoples” can take a stand for human rights.

To mark World Poetry Day the United Nations Regional Information Centre would like to share with you a poem from Dr. Benjamin Zephaniah, a respected and renowned poet, writer and musician.

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

And Pakistanis,

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

And Palestinians

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

And enjoy.

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.

For more information about World Poetry Day click here

Tell us about your favourite poem or poet on Twitter: @UNRIC_UK_IRE #WorldPoetryDay

Take a stand for human rights #standup4humanrights

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