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A Poem for Windrush75

Thu 22 Jun is Windrush Day – the 75th anniversary of the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush in Britain, carrying 800 passengers from the Caribbean. Windrush Day was introduced in June 2018 to commemorate a moment that shaped modern Britain and to celebrate the contribution of those arriving pioneers, and all that came after.

by @russenï
Commissioned by Stratford East to mark Windrush75

Stories wrapped in melanin have been alive since an age long gone by,
But let’s begin from when the wind rushed in over the seas and West Indian flavours treaded upon
British concrete jungle,
Bones clattered to unfamiliar climate but movement had to be made,
So from the soil to clouds hiding the sun,
An empire was made with a plan to get out, get rich, get even, as no handouts or thank you replaced
the labour given.
Just ask ‘Tambo and Bones’ this is not a minstrel show,
So communities were created in a ‘Shebeen’ or two,
Where ‘Anansi’ listened to stories ‘For Black Boys’ and ‘Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters’
After drinks were poured and fried dough shared, ‘Our Lady of Kibeho’ would spill the tales of ‘The
Adventures of Jackal’
Everyone is in attendance even the ‘High Heel Parrotfish’ dressed in riches out of rags.
‘Five Guys Named Moe’ would listen holding onto every word,
Waiting to share all they had clutched onto at their next ‘Barbershop’ visit.
Rhythm of Men would rush to hear all about ‘Raising Lazarus’
They would question everyone, ‘Did hear ‘Ballet Black’ because we do it all don’t you see?’
‘The Etienne Sisters’ still practice their pirouette out of sight.
That’s why we have to ‘Get up, Stand up’ and let the ‘School Girls’ know they have a right and a
space for their flowers to bloom through pavements and live ‘The Big Life’.
Let even the little boy for the ‘Small Island’ know that their dreams can be seen ‘Running with Lions’
beyond the horizon where the sunrise hits like a glow against their skin
‘Sorry Fi Disturb Yuh’ but even when the days blend into ‘Misty’ mundane nights,
Speak on the ‘Sonny Side Up’ about the life and legacy of melanated tones for ‘Nine Nights’ over and
over again,
Until the cup runneth down for generations to come of our ‘Crowning Glory’ in the shape of stories
to be heard and witnessed by all with a ‘Welcome Home Jacko’ you and your lived experience belong

Russenï is a Jamaican-born poet and host based in London, vibing and writing.


Cover photo of THE BIG LIFE at Stratford East in 2004. Photographer: Alastair Muir

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