Themes and message

Cultural diversity 

The main theme of the poem “The British (serves 60 million)” by Benjamin Zephaniah is cultural diversity. Using the metaphor of a food recipe, the poem draws attention to the cultural diversity that forms British society.

In the second stanza, the poem presents a number of nationalities and cultures that have added to British society:

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. (ll. 7-13)

The enumeration of cultures from different parts of the world, with different traditions, languages, and beliefs, highlights the idea of a multicultural society. The use of verbs such as “mix” (l. 7) and “combine” (l. 12), as well as the noun “blend” (l. 12) points to how these cultures can work together to form a single society.

More than this, the first stanza of the poem shows that cultural diversity has always been a large part of the British identity from the start:

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...

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