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21st May 2018

Windrush scandal really wasn’t a surprise for Akala and many others

Will Lavin

“I was completely unsurprised”

It was the story that rocked the country when it broke back in April but the Windrush scandal wasn’t as much of a surprise for some as it was for others.

When thousands of people from the Caribbean who arrived in the UK as children between 1948 and 1971 were being threatened with deportation many in the UK couldn’t believe what they were reading. Many of the Windrush generation were being told they were in the country illegally despite having lived and worked in the UK for decades and were an integral part of rebuilding the country after World War II.

But the scandal was not only about those who arrived as part of Windrush being asked to leave, it was also about Downing Street snubbing a request for a formal diplomatic discussion on the scandal following rule changes that meant thousands faced being deported.

Appearing on Unfiltered with James O’Brien, Akala spoke on the Windrush scandal and how for him, as well as many others, it really wasn’t that much of a surprise.

“I was completely unsurprised, because it wasn’t a scandal of the last few weeks for me,” the rapper and activist commented. “For me, for lots of other people, we’ve been talking about this for many years, because the deportations didn’t only start a few weeks ago. These are people’s uncles, these are people’s aunties, these are family members.

“The recent stuff with Windrush is appalling. It’s stuff that many of us were expecting. Immigration insecurity has been a norm since 1948. We were not, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe this is happening.’ For lots of other people they were. In a way that shock registers how much people haven’t really been paying attention, and it’s easy not to pay attention when it doesn’t affect you.”

Discussing further, Akala also brought up how because the Windrush generation’s expedition to the UK hadn’t been the success they hoped it would be they went broke sending money and gifts back home in an attempt to save face.

“A lot of the Windrush generation, they don’t talk about what happened in that generation, for a number of reasons. These were upwardly-mobile people, especially the lot that came between ’48 and ’55. The British government in Jamaica feared they were losing their best people. So they leave, expecting opportunities, expecting better education, expecting all of this stuff, and in a way a lot of them just couldn’t cope with the rejection.

“So a lot of people wanted to go back, and instead of going back, what they did instead was they worked their arse off and sent money and what we call barrels back home, that they actually couldn’t afford to send, because they couldn’t admit to people back home what a failure the expedition had been.”

Akala’s new book Natives is out now.