POETRY: Windrush Generation


Windrush Generation and the Hostile Environment Bill

By Eulinda Antonette Clarke Akanne


Let’s look back in history to find the origins of the Windrush mystery.

Three hundred and seventy-five years ago…

women, children and men of African origin

were captured and enslaved to work in the Caribbean.

They became British West Indian Citizens

who laboured for the British plantocracy in their thousands.

They tilled the earth, fork, spaded and hoed

Harvesting tobacco and cotton, and producing sugar or ‘white gold’

That enriched Britain’s economy much more than ten-fold….

financing her industrial Revolution

and strengthening and expanding her capitalism.


West Indians served in the two great wars

soldering on with patriotism, pride and deep loyalty

to fight, to die for Britain, their Mother Country.

Now, fast forward, 70 years ago, they were called to Britain to serve again, to fill job vacancies created by world war two

which many local people deemed undesirable to do.

With no hesitation the migrants came to serve their king and country

The mother-land they adored, a land of hope and bounty.


The ship ‘Empire Windrush,’ brought the first four hundred and ninety-two…

In the year 1948, June twenty-two

They filled job vacancies like Public Transport, National Health Service and British rail,

despite having their social and cultural life curtail …

by prejudice, racism, discrimination, hostility and disdain

like the 1958 and 1959 attacks in Notting Hill by white youths on blacks….

bullied by Teddy boys and barred from private housing with signs which read ‘No Irish, No dogs, No blacks’

plus Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood prophesy of nineteen sixty-eight,

That has not materialised up to today’s date.

These immigrants never questioned their residential fate

because they believed their statuses were up to date.

These beliefs were reinforced by the immigration Act nineteen seventy-one

That conferred Indefinite Leave of stay to them, each and everyone

The contributions and jobs these loyal citizens maintained

Helped to build a global and modern Britain


Theresa May’s ‘Hostile Environment Bill of 2013

Aimed to reduce net migration to tens of thousands

This was her dream

This made life in Britain difficult for those without correct documentation

and caused some Windrush migrants’ hardships beyond expectation

Many had lost their original passports and/or documentation

and in 2009 by Home Office instruction

their landing cards and records were fell to destruction.


This resulted in them being declared illegal immigrants

despite them paying their taxes and National Insurances

Some had their driving licences revoked

Others were sacked from their jobs and left destitute and broke

Some were evicted from home

and put out on the streets to rough sleep and roam

Bank accounts were frozen, health care denied

From these experiences some tragically died

all because of the Hostile Environment Bill

that psychologically maims and sometimes physically kill


Some Windrush migrants were deported

and others denied re-entry to Britain when at the airports they reported.

Some people’s pensions were stopped

And others had health care suspended or completely dropped.

Some families were split and separated

While others were incarcerated or repatriated

The traumas of the Hostile Environment Bill are too numerous to mention here

But some include despair, depression, dread and fear

Suffice it to say, some experienced extreme calamity

Deep mental scars and total disharmony


Windrush experiences are not all doom and gloom

There are lots of successful stories with glitter and boom

But I’ll recite these on another occasion

Because its time for me to leave this podium

But….. before I exit

I ask, ‘What is next?’

For Windrush people after Brexit?


Click HERE for video

Windrush Generation and The Hostile Environment Bill

Presented to the Black History Month event at UWE on Thursday 4th October 2018


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