The new African and Caribbean War Memorial is sited at Windrush Square in Brixton, London. The Windrush was the ship that brought over the first non-white immigrants from the West Indies, setting in motion British multiculturalism. Brixton remains an icon of that spirit, but can it survive gentrification?
Back in the summer I attended the dedication of the African and Caribbean War Memorial at Windrush Square in Brixton, south London. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, the Secretary of Defence, Sir Michael Fallon, war veterans and other distinguished guests were there.
The date--it was 22 June--was chosen because it was the anniversary of the docking of the ship, Empire Windrush, at Tilbury harbour in 1948. That event has come to be accepted as the iconic start of mass non-white Commonwealth immigration to the UK.
Yet November is the month in which the attention of the nation, and of the world, is turned towards remembrance of those service personnel who gave their lives in the two world wars. At many services throughout the land, the words of Laurence Binyon from For The Fallen are read:
They shall grow not old As we that are left grow old Time shall not weary them Nor the years condemn. Now the African and Caribbean community has a memorial at which their fallen colleagues, relatives and forebears can be honoured specifically. It has already become a London landmark which visitors include in their itinerary. The memorial was designed by Jak Beula of the Nubian Jak Community Trust. It comprises two 6-foot obelisks made from Scottish whinstone, and is inscribed with the name of every regiment from Africa and the Caribbean that served in the two World Wars, where they served and when. It includes also a pyramid plinth made from Ancaster stone. (See New African, October 2017.)
The open-air occasion was honoured with music from the Ministry of Defence military band, the London All Stars Steel Orchestra and African and Caribbean drummers. The ceremonial unveiling of the memorial, with a traditional military salute and a display of flag and ensigns for each regiment, was followed by African commemorative war music and dance.
The highlight of the occasion was the presence of the ex-servicemen and women, many, of whom had gone on to contribute significantly to the public life of the community which they had defended. Alan Wilmot, 93 years old, expressed his joy that he was able to witness this celebration and to receive his medal in person. He is...