Windrush Day on Saturday, June 22 was commemorated with events across the borough as we remembered the rich contribution made by the Windrush generation and their descendants to Haringey.
Leading the celebrations was Bruce Castle Museum in Tottenham which featured a Day of Kites and Lights.
Throughout the afternoon families enjoyed traditional Caribbean kite-making workshops, food, board games and performances from the Haringey Young Musicians’ Steel Pan Band, while in the evening there were a celebratory light projection onto the museum’s front featuring images of local people.
Attending were a number of local celebrities and dignitaries including the renowned broadcaster and campaigner Alex Pascall OBE who arrived from Grenada in the 1950s and has been living in the borough ever since.
“History brought me along today and it’s a very exciting event to be a part of,” he said. “For me the SS Empire Windrush is just a ship – what’s important is the cargo. There are so many iconic people who have lived in Haringey from the Caribbean community including the entrepreneurs, Len Dyke and Dudley Dryden, the outstanding fabric designer Althea McNish, all the famous DJs and musicians…the list is unending.”
Alex opened the day with a talk remembering the first generation of Caribbean immigrants who arrived in the 1940s and ‘50s.
“We came with our nylon shirts and three tone shoes, the women wore hats and gloves, while the Trinidadians always had a handkerchief in every pocket of all colours – we had style!” he said, laughing.
Inside Bruce Castle people sampled traditional cuisine and enjoyed the variety of exhibitions dotted around the museum including: We Made It! Haringey’s BAME creators and innovators, Windrush Legends and Legacies and Black Georgian Londoners.
Outside, plenty more were making the most of the good weather including David Whyte teaching Yasmin Drakes to play one of the most popular of Caribbean board games – Ludo.
“Everyone plays board games in the West Indies,” he said. “And it’s part of our social structure. We’ve never met before but already we’re interacting! I think this is a wonderful day because my parents came on the SS Empire Windrush and now we finally have a day that commemorates the journey we’ve all made. It means a lot.”
Another popular activity was the kite-making in which children and adults helped make the kind of colourful creations which unite villages and towns from Jamaica to Tobago. One of the most enthusiastic volunteers was Tahirah, aged four, there with her grandmother, Liz.
“Tahirah’s other grandparents come from St Vincent and the Grenadines,” said Liz. “And I think it’s important for her to learn about her culture while I’m also learning a lot today. I was born around the time the first generation started arriving so I wasn’t taught anything about the Windrush at school – but I’m making up for it now!”
“It’s important to remember the forefathers of Britain’s black minority ethnic community,” said Cllr Joseph Ejiofor, Haringey Council’s Leader, taking a break from the festivities. “They came over here to make a real contribution to British life as well as improving the lives of themselves and their families.”