The National Library of Jamaica, The Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport (MCGES) along with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade (MFAFT) and other local stakeholder groups will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the departure of the HMT Windrush from Jamaican shores with a month-long series of events beginning on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. The Windrush 75 celebrations, which include a Labour Day Festival, a National Church Service, a Panel Discussion and a traveling exhibition, are a part of the Jamaica 60 events and activities and are aimed at educating Jamaican nationals at home and in the diaspora about the significance and cultural impact of those migrants who left Jamaica to the British Isles seven and a half decades ago.
“While in Britain Windrush Day is observed on June 22 to signify the arrival of the ship to Tilbury, we in Jamaica have decided to celebrate the departure experience, highlighting our memory of those who decided to leave their families for better opportunities, while sharing our culture with the world.” Said Beverley Lashley, National Librarian and Coordinator of the Windrush 75 activities.
“The departure means something to us in Jamaica as we observe, year to year, the growing network of Jamaican influence globally, as well as the growing culture of migration. The truth is Jamaica would not have been where it is today without the input of those migrants who left for the UK on the HMT Windrush in 1948 and our culture would not have the global impact that it has on the world today without them staying true to their roots, despite being replanted on foreign soil.” Lashley continued.
The commemorative activities will begin on Labour Day, Tuesday, May 23, 2023 with the Windrush Five Communities Anchor Festival Labour Day and Community Celebrations at African Gardens in August Town, Kingston beginning at 10:00 a.m. Being held under the theme “A United Family at Home and Abroad”, the day’s activities will include beautification of the August Town Primary School and painting of the August Town Police Station, followed by a community celebration at African Gardens Square. The event will feature uniformed and church group parades, football, netball, dominoes, live entertainment from local talent, farmers market and delegations from the UK and USA Diasporas.
Wednesday, May 24, 2023, will then see the Windrush 75 National Church Service being held at the Kingston Parish Church, South Parade, Kingston, beginning at 10:00 a.m. Members of the public are being invited to attend the service and are encouraged to arrive at the church service by 9:30 a.m. The National Church Service will be live streamed on the National Library of Jamaica’s Youtube page, and the Kingston Parish Church’s Facebook page.
This will be followed by “Windrush 75 Reflections from Kingston Harbour” – A Panel Discussion on Thursday, May 25, 2023, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, 2 Port Royal St., Kingston. Beginning at 1:00 p.m. the panel discussion will tackle the implications of the Windrush experience, migration and the cultural outflows which have benefited Jamaica’s development. The panelists are: the Rev. Dr. Dave Gosse, Director of the Institute of Caribbean Studies at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus; Migration Researcher Dr. Hilary Hickling; Mr. Herbie Miller, Director of the Jamaica Music Museum at the Institute of Jamaica; Mr. Earl Moxam, Senior Journalist at the RJR Gleaner Communications Group; and Mr. Rudi Page, Diaspora Consultant, at Making Connections Work (MCW). This informative forum is open to public attendance and will also be live streamed to the diaspora on the National Library of Jamaica’s Youtube page, and the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport’s and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade’s Facebook pages. It is to be noted that persons who are interested in physically attending this event must register by Tuesday, May 23, 2023 at the following link: https://forms.office.com/r/7uw3sY2BpL
The celebrations will then close out with the Windrush Travelling Exhibition, which will be staged at various parish libraries across the island from Monday, May 29 to Thursday, June 22, 2023. The exhibition will showcase important narrative information connected to the experience of the Windrush era.
“We invite Jamaicans to come out to attend these commemorative events. This is an opportunity for Jamaica to reclaim the narrative of the Windrush and to draw inspiration from this new perspective on our migration story.” Lashley further stated.
Stakeholder groups involved in the execution of Jamaica’s Windrush 75 celebrations include the MCGES, MFAFT, NLJ, JMM, The Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands (The Anglican Church), the Jamaica National Council for UNESCO and Making Connections Work (MCW).
Persons interested in sharing their memories, artefacts, experiences from the Windrush era may contact the National Library of Jamaica using the email address: [email protected]