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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