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Why returning to Jamaica remains important for Wilfred

To round-out Black History Month – observed throughout October – we sat down with The Black Farmer founder Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones MBE to talk about his visits to Jamaica over the years, and why returning to his native island remains so important since he left as part of the Windrush generation.

Can you tell us about your visits to Jamaica since you left all those years ago?

I don’t get to go back to Jamaica very often, so it’s a bit of a treat when I do get the chance. I was born in the ‘bush’, and I’m still struck by just how beautiful yet simple it remains to this day. The folk rely on small-scale farming, and I guess that’s what’s in my blood.

Have you taken your family with you, or are you planning to?

A couple of Christmases ago I took my family. It was their first time in Jamaica, and it was really interesting to see how they connected with it – albeit, we were staying in an extremely nice hotel!

Why have you gone back?

I think it’s important to stay connected, but it was particularly important to me that the kids got a sense of where I, and their ancestors, came from. Jamaica is a far-cry from the life they lead in the UK and to witness it first-hand helps keep everyone’s feet on the ground. It’s good for them to know what their grandparents gave up in order to come to Britain in search of a better life for us.

Can you tell us about your visits to Jamaica since you left all those years ago?

I don’t get to go back to Jamaica very often, so it’s a bit of a treat when I do get the chance. I was born in the ‘bush’, and I’m still struck by just how beautiful yet simple it remains to this day. The folk rely on small-scale farming, and I guess that’s what’s in my blood.

Have you taken your family with you, or are you planning to?

A couple of Christmases ago I took my family. It was their first time in Jamaica, and it was really interesting to see how they connected with it – albeit, we were staying in an extremely nice hotel!

Why have you gone back?

I think it’s important to stay connected, but it was particularly important to me that the kids got a sense of where I, and their ancestors, came from. Jamaica is a far-cry from the life they lead in the UK and to witness it first-hand helps keep everyone’s feet on the ground. It’s good for them to know what their grandparents gave up in order to come to Britain in search of a better life for us.

What have you experienced on your visits there?

Generally, when I’ve been back it’s for a specific reason – more business than pleasure. While I’m sure I do have a lot of extended family there, I rarely have the opportunity these days to re-connect. I was born and spent my first few years in a place called Waterworks in Clarendon. It’s way off the beaten track, and, if like last time, the weather is inclement, it makes travelling there a bit more of an adventure than I wanted at that time!

What food did you enjoy while you were there?

You can’t go to Jamaica without experiencing the dishes that encompass what Jamaica is all about – spicy, hearty, totally delicious. I’m talking about authentic rice ‘n’ peas with jerk chicken, goat curry, fried plantain and ripe mangoes straight from the tree…

Any tips on things to see and do for people who are planning a visit?

Get out of the tourist areas and into the towns and villages. Meet the locals and eat the local food – this will make your visit truly memorable.

What have you experienced on your visits there?

Generally, when I’ve been back it’s for a specific reason – more business than pleasure. While I’m sure I do have a lot of extended family there, I rarely have the opportunity these days to re-connect. I was born and spent my first few years in a place called Waterworks in Clarendon. It’s way off the beaten track, and, if like last time, the weather is inclement, it makes travelling there a bit more of an adventure than I wanted at that time!

What food did you enjoy while you were there?

You can’t go to Jamaica without experiencing the dishes that encompass what Jamaica is all about – spicy, hearty, totally delicious. I’m talking about authentic rice ‘n’ peas with jerk chicken, goat curry, fried plantain and ripe mangoes straight from the tree…

Any tips on things to see and do for people who are planning a visit?

Get out of the tourist areas and into the towns and villages. Meet the locals and eat the local food – this will make your visit truly memorable.

What memories have you brought back with you?

I tend to reflect on how my life has changed since I was a small child living a very rural life to what it is now, and how that opportunity was brought about by the courage of my parents and all those others who came over in the Windrush generation.

And finally, when will you plan on going back?

I’ve got no plans at the moment. I’m not great at taking holidays, as I’m so passionate about running my business, which consumes me 24/7! Also, because it’s quite a long way to travel, I need to go for two or three weeks. I’m so busy with The Black Farmer and all my other business interests that it’s not something I can schedule at the moment.