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ECA and Black Heritage Hub come together to celebrate Windrush Day at Fore Street Library

Performance, spoken word, poetry, song, African drumming, conversations and laughter all took centre stage at this year’s Windrush Day celebrations which took place at the Fore Street Library in Edmonton, on Friday 21 June.

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Performance, spoken word, poetry, song, African drumming, conversations and laughter all took centre stage at this year’s Windrush Day celebrations which took place at the Fore Street Library in Edmonton, on Friday 21 June.

This year’s Windrush Day event was jointly organised by Enfield Caribbean Association and the Black Heritage Hub (BHH), an organisation dedicated to preserving and promoting the rich heritage of the Black community.

Enfield's Mayor, Councillor Muhammad Islam provided the keynote address where he praised the contribution of the Windrush generation surviving and overcoming the hostile environment of racism and ignorance. The collective experiences directly leading to changes in the social and cultural fabric of the UK.

Performance spoken word artist and poet Belinda Everiste opened the evening with her ‘Welcome to England' poem which beautifully and rhythmically portrays the experiences of the Windrush generation, when arriving to the motherland in the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s.

ECA volunteer Shirley Yoxall read several of her poems. One poem describing the challenge of growing up in London in the 1960s and parents advising young people to talk properly – less Jamaican. The result, growing up bi-lingual – English and Jamaican English!

Bi-lingualism was again on display by spoken word artist, Dr Morgan Dalphinis who read his poetry in both St Lucian patois and English. Tamzin Adeshiyan-John sang a beautiful rendition of Sam Cooke’s classic 1960s anthem, ‘A Change is Gonna Come.’ Adeshiyan-John’s voice reminded the audiences that Cooke’s words are still relevant today, as they were 60 years ago, when he first crafted the song.

Christiania Adamu, Black Heritage Hub Director provided the Welcome Back address to the audience. Christiania discussed the Windrush effect on African migrants who also migrated to the UK in large numbers in the same time period, 1940s-70s. She also spoke about her own experience, not being able to immediately utilise her qualifications she earned in Nigeria, despite them being British certified qualifications.

The audience enjoyed the quiz on African-Caribbean general knowledge which generated so much noise and excitement as teams vied against each other. The winning team scored 18 out of 20!

Maroon Community Media (MCM) attended the event bringing their portable studio facilities. MCM recorded people’s views and stories about their understanding of what Windrush means to them. The company will be producing an audio soundscrape from the material recorded at the Windrush event.

Fifi Mensah got the whole crowd engaged, rhythmically clapping and swaying with his African Drumming. Poet, Herbie Dunnan poetry and words recited the anger and frustrations of those members of the Windrush generation directly impacted by the scandal that befell them, starting in 2018.

ECA Patron, Professor Patrick Vernon OBE took inspiration from Jimmy Cliff’s 1969 song, ‘Many Rivers to Cross.’ Vernon acknowledged that while the Windrush generation's contributions and struggles are now officially recognised by the government and society., they were always recognised by the community. Vernon highlighted the adverse effects of discrimination on people’s mental and physical health.

Black communities across the UK have been celebrating Windrush Day since the 1980s, however those members of that generation are dying. Vernon had recently attended the funerals of three prominent members of the Windrush generation. He suggested the emphasis must be placed on documenting and preserving their stories before they are gone.

The Windrush scandal's impact on African people was also acknowledged, underscoring the need for government recognition and improved compensation. Vernon also reminded the audience that the struggle continues. The High Court recently ruled that Suella Braverman, Home Secretary, acted unlawfully when she abandoned key recommendations from the Williams Review, which was commissioned to learn the lessons after the Windrush Scandal.

Vernon ended his thoughts with the words “We have got five generations of Windrush since Second World War, and we are here to stay. Nigel Farage!”

Dramatist and actor, Sharron Spice ended the evening with her dramatic monologue of Cislin Parry’s story. The performance charted Cislin’s idyllic childhood life in Jamaica to her establishing the successful beauty salon Aquarius in the 1970s.

ECA Chair, Oveta McInnis said. “Celebrating our Windrush pioneers is an important moment in the UK’s post war history and our annual calendar. This was a superb evening. The acts were outstanding. Each of the performers gave so much of themselves, each so unique. Patrick Vernon’s tributes to individual Windrush pioneers was very moving.

"The event was enjoyed by a full house. We are thankful to the community who continue to support our events," added Oveta.

Dionne John Associate Trustee at ECA and Chair at BHH said “The synergy of working alongside ECA went extremely well. The atmosphere in the venue was so warm and positive. There was such a strong sense of unity, community and love.”

L-R: Dionne John, Christiania Adamu, Enfield's mayor, Councillor Muhammad Islam, Oveta McInnis and BHH member.

Belinda Everiste performing 'Welcome to England'

Windrush Day winning quiz team

Click here to look at more images from the event.

Posted: June 24, 2024