Windrush Day activities planned for were curtailed by the Covid Pandemic.
Windrush Words - Press Release
Annual acknowledgement on 22nd June as 'Windrush Day’ was designated by the British Government in 2018. This was part of the efforts being made to help to repair the damage done by their own Departments in harassing people who came to the UK legitimately as British Citizens in the years after the Second World War, to help post war efforts to rebuild Britain. Windrush Day aims to recognise the very significant role played by those who came to Britain and to ensure that this history is never forgotten or overlooked again.
The current campaigns for BLACK LIVES MATTER are now emphasising the fact that people in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland need to understand the histories of their involvement in colonial atrocities openly and honestly.
On the first Windrush Day in 2018 local groups came together in Penrhyn Hall, with support from Bangor City Council, to recognise the immense contribution people from the Caribbean made. Mary Stennett spoke of her husband, Enrico Stennett’s dedication in helping those who faced blatant racism and discrimination as they struggled to settle in Britain. Enrico was born in Jamaica, but came to a devastated Britain in 1947, ahead of the arrival of the Empire Windrush, and is credited with starting the first Black newspaper to support the community. Enrico and Mary settled in North Wales at the end of their life. Enrico Stennett was an active member of the then North Wales Race Equality Network.
Jamaican High Commissioner, His Excellency Seth George Ramocan, was welcomed with the Civic Reception in Bangor later that year. His delegation were able to visit the Penrhyn Archives at the University of Bangor and also visited Penrhyn Castle. The Jamaican High Commissioner spoke of the importance of recognising the shared history of North Wales and Jamaica, and thanked all involved for the generous hospitality shown during his tour of Wales. He also spoke of the respect that must be shown in memory of the Africans enslaved by the British during the Transatlantic Slave Trade and he emphasised how important it was that this history is shared and understood. Mary Stennett was able to present a copy of the book about her husbands life and campaigns ‘Our Lives, Our History, Our Future' to the High Commissioner. Sadly Mary Stennett passed away shortly after, but she must have felt that she had been successful in making sure her husband’s life work would not be forgotten.
In 2019 the Welsh Government provided funds for BAME groups across Wales to celebrate Windrush Day. Bangor City Council again gave recognition on Windrush Day by supporting local groups to share stories about the ongoing work to develop links between Bangor and Clarendon in Jamaica, including a Civic link between the Mayor of Clarendon and the Mayor of Bangor, as well as link between the Rotary Clubs of Bangor and May Pen in Clarendon, who are currently working to support the community of Pennants in Clarendon, where the Pennant family owned plantations which prospered with a large enslaved African workforce.
Well known activist and visitor to North Wales, Jamaican poet and founder of the Jamaica Poetry Festival, Yasus Afari, sent a poem entitled 'WindRush Turmoil’ to recognise the Windrush experience, this was read by local poet Martin Daws:
'Like a mighty, rushing wind, they came,
Gushing to the shores, of a heartless-mother,
Britain, “the beloved’’ motherland
Abandoning fears; with blood, sweat and tears
Blindly answering a call, of the colonizers’ land
With bloody streets, paved with gold,
Floodead by Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood,
Shouting diss-greeting: No Irish! No Blacks! No dogs!
Used, abused and refused,
Reduced to human refuge
Win or lose; now it’s Britain’s time to choose,
To pick, choose or refuse, a blessing or a curse…
Tie the money string, throw away the purse.
And as Miss Lou prophecy seh, it’s colonization in reverse
While dem still spiting wi, with man-made hunger and thirst
Soh dem colonization now start fi drive inna reverse
Now just remember; whatever we choose; whether a blessing or a sin
Reciprocity is here; ready, willing and able to take us all in: Like the Mighty Rushing Wind.'
Schools in the Ogwen Valley and Bangor invited Yasus Afari to visit during his “Jamaica Wales Alliance: Black History Month 2019” tour of Wales, and were encouraged to write their own poetry to reflect they feelings about fairness and the need to care for others. These will be published, along with poems written by children in Pennants, Jamaica in the “Building Bridges’ project developed by Yasus Afari.
Windrush Day is now recognised on the national calendar. However this year as there are additional challenges, Race Council Cymru is presenting an online event with a range of presentations.
Bangor based, Learning Links International, will be continuing to collect poetry to enable people of all ages to share their feelings in English and Welsh through a project also supported by Yasus Afari, called 'Geriau Windrush Words’.