Columns

Past, present and future: Windrush, C'wealth Games, The Ward

Barbara
Gloudon

Friday, April 20, 2018

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Nobody can beat us w hen it comes to spreading news, getting news or fixing news. The hot news this week comes from the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting currently being held in London. The meeting title, abbreviated to CHOGUM, is not to be confused with “chewing gum”. It is a gathering of representatives from all around the Commonwealth, which some say is neither “common” nor “wealthy”, but the international media still gives space to CHOGUM here and CHOGUM there.

The hot news this week is the resurrection of the life of the Windrush, a water-bound mode of transportation which Jamaicans and other Caribbean nationals boarded to find employment in Britain. Many who weren't able to find work in the countries of their birth were encouraged to board ships and set sail for Mother England. Our people didn't go there looking like leggo-beast beggars, as some would have liked you to think. Check the pictures from the Archives, a public library, or wherever. Look and see how our people put on their best suits, ties, hats, and Clark's shoes to make a good impression.

Those who took the journey had to be strong and prepared to face the battle of that thing called racism. They say that Caribbean people didn't like work. Big lie! Caribbean people have looked work, found work, and worked hard to rebuild Britain from post-war to the present era. Many of our people prospered. When they returned to visit their birth land they were smarter and more prosperous than some of those who had been left behind in Britain.

It is hardly likely that any Caribbean individual who travelled in those days would allow anybody to disrespect them. Reports now coming out of Britain reveal that some Caribbean people who gave of their lives and effort to rebuild a post-war society and played their part to create a modern England are refusing to face facetiness again.

Under the new title “Windrush generation”, the children, now adults, of the original travellers are being told they must prove that they have a legal right to remain in England. Such individuals, who have spent much of their lives living the British way, should not have to find themselves being threatened with deportation to countries which many know very little about.

Surely somebody lose dem pass!

Voices have been raised. Now UK leader, Theresa May, photographed with the Jamaican prime minister at Downing Street, has issued an apology for how the matter has been handled. Assistance has also been promised to Jamaicans and others to be helped to settle their immigration status. It will be interesting to see what happens next in the current debacle, and what CHOGUM achieved.

Gold, silver and bronze

British deportation business notwithstanding, let us reflect on the outstanding performances given by the young Jamaican female athletes at the recently concluded Commonwealth Games in Australia. To see the various reports of the quality of excellence which the young women have achieved should continue to make our nation proud. The young male athletes made their contribution at the games as well. We salute them all for their success.

Jamaica garnered 27 medals in swimming, netball and track and field, including a first with gold in the steeplechase! It's been a long time since Jamaicans have been clearing barriers and running through water, but not very often in a stadium!

While some of the big names were not as effective as expected, these games should be celebrated and the lessons learnt. A new crop of athletes are emerging to continue flying the Jamaican flag. We are pleased to see our black, green and gold on the international stage.

Whither 'The Ward'

While we're talking about British style, here in our Jamaica who among us can reveal what is happening with the restoration of the Ward Theatre, one of the most sensitive landmarks in Kingston town? Kingstonians and others have continued to ask the same question over and over: “When will the Ward return to use?”

Last year, as part of Labour Day activities, clean-up efforts were to have taken place at the Ward Theatre. The impression was given that the great day for the most famous theatre facilities in the island would have been put into operation in short order. Those with special interest were waiting for the electric bulbs to be put into the ceiling medallion, declaring “Let there be light!”

Instead of that, what continues is a call for darkness. Maybe the municipal kitchen lamp has had its last shade broken. As old timers loved to say, “Bruck glass cyaan help.”

Hear ye! Hear ye! All the “ye” who claim interest in Kingston, our nation's capital, which has only just closed off celebrations of the 145th anniversary, could you be so kind as to let us know what is happening with our famous theatre? It hasn't been long since the Government announced the intention to “fix up nuff tings” to attract tourists to come to Kingston town with downtown Parade included.

Theatre fans fondly remember the talent of Louise Bennett-Coverley, Ranny Williams, and the many others who brought a spirit of happiness, joy and pride in our people as they performed at The Ward. Our national hero, Marcus Mosiah Garvey, had history with the Ward Theatre and other aspects of Kingston. Garvey said: “A people without knowledge of their past history is like a tree without roots.” The Ward is part of our history and should be part of our present and future. Let it be fixed, Mr Mayor, and colleagues. The Ward is waiting to bring joy to its citizens.

Save the youth,

In heaven's name… another schoolboy has had his life taken from him. His family, and his school colleagues now mourn. How can we continue this destruction of young lives? The people of the parish of Westmoreland in particular have been feeling the pain for far too long. Stop the bloodshed now! There must be change.

Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or gloudonb@ yahoo.com.

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