Exhibition Opening: Enigma of Arrival

“Passenger Opportunity to the United Kindom – Troopship ‘EMPIRE WINDRUSH’ sailing about 23rd May. Fares – Cabin Class … £48, Troopdeck … £28.”

Ad from the Daily Gleaner

For many Jamaicans and other Caribbean nationals, this was indeed an opportunity, because the mother country was supposed to be the place of success and prosperity where a better life was guaranteed. Thus, they drew for the bank book, pulled out the money from under the old mattress, emptied the piggy pan (saving pan), sold the cow, goat or pig, called friends and family at ‘yaad’ (in Jamaica) and abroad because the fare must be gathered by any means necessary, for that trip to England was compulsory.

The “Sunday Best” would undoubtedly be worn for this journey because after all, they were going to the mother country, that land of prosperity. Money – check, attire – check, Caribbean nationals were now ready to populate the troopdeck.

Life will be much better, they thought, one can just imagine all those wonderful fantasies.

With excitement and high success in imaginative view, on May 24, 1948, they took off on their journey. The sense of high anticipation is exemplified in Lord Kitchener’s “London is the Place for Me”

London is the place for me

London this lovely city…

To live in London you are really comfortable

Because the English people are very much sociable…

London that’s the place for me (abr.)

Sadly, when faced with unkind reception and the realities of their misperception, the people realized that London was not the loveliest place to be. These tensions are reflected in poet Linton Kwesi Johnson’s piece ‘Inglan is a bitch’

Inglan is a bitch

Dere´s no escapin it

Inglan is a bitch

Dere´s no runnin´ whey fram it

We explore the tensions, legacies and impact of Caribbean Migration to Britain the EU-LAC-UWI exhibition The Enigma of Arrival: The Politics and Poetics of Caribbean Migration to Britain which will run from February 7, 2020 to May 1, 2020.

Join us at the exhibition opening on Friday February 7, 2020 at 4 pm in the lobby of the Regional Headquarters, Mona. RSVP by Wednesday February 5th, 2020 at uwi.mona@uwimona.edu.jm or call us at 876-977-6065 ext. 8868.

 

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