Grenada is an island connecting some of our Windrush generation elders who took part in telling us their stories.
Although born in Trinidad, Gloria Whyte’s parents were Grenadians and some of her siblings were born on the island before her parents travelled from Grenada to Trinidad in the early 1940’s. Trinidad began its first commercial production of oil in 1908. During the 1930’s to 1950’s Trinidad with its new oil and gas fields became a magnet for work for many people across the Caribbean before the Windrush generation’s migration to England.
Gloria’s family was typical of this exodus of economic migrants looking for work. Her father worked on point 10 oil field and remained in the industry for the rest of his life. Determined to give his children a better life he encouraged Gloria and her siblings to seek a better life in England.
I have been on the island of Grenada now for the last two weeks in May 2018, taking in the place of birth of Gloria’s parents. On the surface it is a glorious, island full of colour, hilly terrains, death defying gradients with houses on escarpments that only the imagination can fathom out how they were actually constructed. This goes from the simple wooden chattel houses, to flamboyant large concrete constructions.
While I did the usual tour of the island, and the tourist spots the nicest thing was the people who were so welcoming and the oil-down the national dish of Grenada. I went to Concorde Waterfalls for the day on my last Saturday with a group and the local villagers cooked us Oil down, a Saturday traditional meal, or food served at large gatherings. It is a cooked in a huge coal pot outdoors where fresh grated coconut milk is cooked with salt fish, meat, breadfruit, callaloo and any other provisions at hand. The fresh flavours were amazingly good. That pot fed eighty people in it’s true tradition as food cooked by the community bringing people together as we shared our own stories over passion fruit juice and rum punch.
The importance of food and sharing is a reminder of why this project of elders telling their stories and locating their audios and photo etchings in a Caribbean Café is a significant way of replicating this tradition that goes back centuries to our slave ancestors.
Do you have a story to share of memories of your grandparents, parents or yourself who came to Britain during the Windrush period? Or were you born in Britain with Caribbean heritage or do you have a migration story to share? You will find these passport postcards at the cafe. When you visit the installation take some time to fill out the card and post it to our memory wall in the venue. Or sign up and leave your comment in the reply box below and join the conversation.