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Renowned author Benjamin Zephaniah's praises Wisbech museum on BBC show



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Acclaimed writer Benjamin Zephaniah named Wisbech and Fenland Museum his favourite in the world.

The poet chose to be filmed in its Covid-closed galleries for Inside Culture with Mary Beard this week.

The programme broadcast on BBC2 last night (Thursday) and available now on BBC i-player deals with British museums and how during lockdown and after they are facing up to difficult issues of race, empire and slavery.

Benjamin Zephaniah arrives at Wisbech museum. Photo: BBC's Inside Culture. (42729452)
Benjamin Zephaniah arrives at Wisbech museum. Photo: BBC's Inside Culture. (42729452)

In the programme the award-winning author said: “I've been to museums in Cairo, Shanghai, Paris and London but there is absolutely nothing like the museum in Wisbech.”

He describes it as the kind of museum he likes best – small, cosy, peculiar, and obsessed with local history, about local characters and local things yet speaking to bigger global issues.

Standing next to the bust of Thomas Clarkson in pride of place, he said: “This guy is a local hero here in Wisbech. While he was studying at Cambridge he entered a Latin essay competition on the subject of slavery and he won it.

Benjamin Zephaniah talks about Thomas Clarkson and his role in the abolition of slaver. Photo: BBC'sInside Culture. (42729456)
Benjamin Zephaniah talks about Thomas Clarkson and his role in the abolition of slaver. Photo: BBC'sInside Culture. (42729456)

“In the process of researching slavery he realised how evil it was. His essay did a lot to gain support for the anti-slavery movement.

“Clarkson brought something new to the table .. he went to all the trading ports in Britain and purchased goods that were made in Africa to show people that we could do trade with Africa and not enslave Africa.”

This episode of Inside Culture broadcast during British Museum of the Year 2020 week also filmed Mary Beard at the British Museum as it was re-opening to the public after being closed for months.

Mary Beard hosts Inside Culture, which this week saw Benjamin Zephaniah visit Wisbech museum. Photo: BBC.
Mary Beard hosts Inside Culture, which this week saw Benjamin Zephaniah visit Wisbech museum. Photo: BBC.

Wisbech and Fenland Museum is still closed but it opens at selected times to families who have pre-booked a socially distanced visit in limited numbers.

It is also reaching out through Facebook, Twitter and its website offering a range of activities.

You can watch the episode and hear Benjamin's enthusiasm for Wisbech museum on BBC iPlayer now.

Benjamin Zephaniah signs the visitors' book at Wisbech museum. (42729462)
Benjamin Zephaniah signs the visitors' book at Wisbech museum. (42729462)
Benjamin Zephaniah talks about how Wisbech museum and its collection speaks to global issues. Photo: BBC's Inside Culture. (42729460)
Benjamin Zephaniah talks about how Wisbech museum and its collection speaks to global issues. Photo: BBC's Inside Culture. (42729460)


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