What is the Windrush Generation?

We speak about the people who came to Jamaica but what about the people who left. Many
Jamaicans migrated from Jamaica, for better opportunities, to build their lives, to escape violence and
more. It is said we can find Jamaicans almost anywhere. Name a country and it’s very possible you’ll find
a yaadie there. Jamaican and Caribbean immigrants have built countries. Some first world countries
wouldn’t be what these are without the labour, sacrifices and invaluable contributions from the people
who migrated there. There’s much to say about the Windrush generation and its scandal is heart-
wrenching. But before we get to that, let’s cover what the Windrush immigration/generation is.

Empire Windrush

Let’s do this video a little different. Let’s step into the shoes of a Windrush immigrant. We are 10 years
old in late 1940s.
A few years after World War 2 ended and UK needs to fill labour shortage post-war.
Let’s begin!

Windrush Migrants

“Mi dawta!” Mama shouted as she walked up the red-dirt road with a basket of fruits on her head.
Her smile was as bright as the sunshine while her eyes were clouded and wet.
“Mama, mek mi help yuh,” I took the basket from her. Mama sat down on a wooden stool dad made
and tried to speak. Her lips formed words, but no sound came out.
Finally, she said as she looked away “Yuh a guh England wid yuh fadda.”
“Di madda country?” I asked my mother.
“Nuh fi wi madda country but yea, dem same one,” she replied.
I didn’t know what to make of it. I never traveled far before. The furthest I’ve even gone was that long
walk to school.
Mama then explained that life would be better for me there and mama, my sisters and brothers will join
me one day.

This story is dedicated to Paulette Wilson- Windrush Campaigner & Activist

“Yuh and yuh fadda will guh pon one ship named MV Empire Windrush and it will tek yuh to England.
“Okay Mama,” I said, conflicting emotions raging inside me. Going on a ship sounds fun, I could see
pirates, sea animals and I love the sea. But, I don’t know if I want to leave my brothers, sisters and mom.
Later that evening, dad, a carpenter, got home to repeat the news mom shared earlier. Dad was the
type who read everything so he knew all about this Windrush trip.
“The British pass one act weh name British Nationality Act 1948 and because Jamaica a British colony,
we can sekkle a UK now without nuh trouble,” dad told me.
“What about mom and Keisha, Joshua, Raymond, Rita, Jerome and Nicole?” I asked dad.
“Dem cann come dis time but as soon as wi sekkle and have a house, dem will join us in UK. Inna dis
country, we a guh have a better life. More money, better opportunities, education and suh.”

That didn’t make me feel any better. But, I trusted my parents and wherever they led so I told them I
would go.

A couple weeks later, we were at the place where the ship slept. It was just waking up when we arrived.
It wasn’t just me and dad though, it was a good number of people, some we knew.
“Pull up yuh socks,” Mama said to me as I forgot to roll up the long socks she gave me as it was a hot
day.
“Weatha nuh di same inna England,” she said as she gave me gloves she made from Flour bag. I had on
my Sunday’s best clothes and my head was done in a special cane row style mama designed herself.
Only Keisha and Joshua could accompany us to the ship.
“Mi a guh miss yuh, mi sista. Don’t forget mi enuh,” Joshua said.
“Mi love yuh, see yuh soon mi hope,” Keisha said.
Mom gave me the longest hug and she wasn’t a hugger. I could feel her tears on my cheek and mama
wasn’t someone who cried. She kissed and hugged daddy. Then we boarded this ship that was way bigger than our house.

Everyone who needed to leave got on as we waved to our loved ones. I hoped in my
heart that it was a soon come back than goodbye.
The sea was endless and had times when it looked beautiful or scary. Some people were happy, some
were sad, some were sick. Some sang songs, some prayed, and some talked to pass the time.
My neighbour, Jessa, talked all the time about the pretty dresses she would get and send back to her
sisters.
Dad read and drew. I was feeling too much to do anything for too long until I discovered that sleep made
the journey go faster so I did as much of that as I could. It wasn’t easy as I would have memory-like
dreams of my life in Jamaica. Sometimes I woke up happy, sometimes I woke up bawling.
“It alright, mi dawta. We gone be alright,” Dad said., trying to make me feel better. It kinda helped but
what was even better was when he told me stories, or we shared funny memories from something
Mama said or my siblings did. That kept me going.
I knew we were in England when my skin started to turn purple. I put on the gloves Mama gave me but
it wasn’t enough. I rub my skin until it burned.
A lady on the ship must have seen how cold I was because she gave me her jacket. When the ship finally
stopped, many clapped. Some said thank yuh Jesas. Dad hugged me and said, “Dis a wi new home”
I looked out at this strange new country and had a vision. Keisha, Joshua, Raymond, Rita, Jerome and
Nicole were running around the streets of London. Dad was driving a taxi, bringing folks all over the
town but there was no Mama. I searched high and low for her but Mama was nowhere to be found.
I looked back the sea then and called out for “Mama” while Dad pulled me forward into this strange,
new land and life.

So that’s the end of this first story I wrote, hopefully depicting the beginning of the Windrush generation
through a 10-year old’s eyes. Did you get anything from it? I’ve also included the official information on
the Windrush generation. Do you know anyone who’s a part of this generation or are you one of those
immigrants? Let us know in the comments.
Though I wrote this story, based on research, I can never know what it is like being a windrush
immigrant but their contribution to the British from that generation and the generations that followed
as well as Jamaicans they left back home is great. The Windrush Scandal though was just inhumane and
that we’ll cover in another blog.

We mentioned the year 1948 but the Windrush generation extends beyond that, it’s those from the
Caribbean who arrived in UK from 1948 to 1971. The name Windrush comes from the MV Empire
Windrush, that docked in Tilbury on 22 June, 1948. The ship carried 492 passengers, many being
children. Many of these people became manual workers, drivers, nurses, cleaners and some broke
barriers in representing Black Britons in society. One such being Jamaican-British Campaigner Sam
Beaver King who migrated to Uk in his 20s and moved from being a postman there to the first Black
Mayor of Southwark in London.

Did you learn anything? Like or comment to let us know you value this kind of
content and we’ll make more like it. Big up to the Windrush generation. Remember to stay as upful as
you can and tek care of yuhself and each other. Until Next time, blessings always.

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