MY WINDRUSH STORY
I was born in Frankfield, Clarendon, Jamaica. In fact, I was registered as being born on the 7th November 1957 but my Mom insists I was born on the 8th! She says I was born with a single strand of grey hair which, according to folklore, is a lucky sign.
My parents decided to come to the UK, like many of their generation, to seek better opportunities for themselves and their families. They left me to be looked after by my Mom’s relatives and they came to England to earn enough money to send for me and my sister later. We didn’t arrive on HMS Windrush but by plane some two years later.
To this day I still remember the shock of arriving in the middle of winter in a strange country and, because of the time we spent apart, to come and live with strange people – who I was told were my parents. Back then my only reference point of familiarity was the Jamaican foods that my mother cooked, which were a reminder of home.
Although I had lived in this country since I was five, technically I was a foreigner because the British and Commonwealth passport that I arrived on was no longer valid. The only way I was able to claim permanent status was to go through the long and laborious process of becoming naturalised. I did so in my late 20s. If I hadn’t, I could have ended up in the same position as some of my contemporaries who came to this country at the same time as me and were threatened with deportation
Now in my mid 60’s I am very proud to be a British Jamaican. People often wonder why from such a small island extraordinary people arise and make a great impact on the world. Think of Bob Marley, Usain Bolt and many, many more. Well, we Jamaicans know the secret. It is down to the food we eat and love!
Every year in June there is a Windrush celebration day. I believe it is very important to celebrate as it gives us as a nation the opportunity to reflect on how we as a generation have contributed to the greater good of Britain.