Jaja Muhammad, formerly of BBC Africa and BBC Radio 4, produces and presents Generation Windrush, a two-part podcast documentary from Broccoli Content. Broccoli is a podcast production company that creates opportunities and gives a platform to diverse voices. The Windrush deportation scandal being close to her heart as a grand-daughter of Windrushers on both sides, Muhammad goes on a fact-finding mission to uncover what was really going on beyond the headlines.
GW speaks to people on the front lines including activists, immigration lawyers, and journalists who are at the heart of the issue. People such as Colin Grant – historian and author – and Allyson Williams MBE – a Windrusher from Trinidad who served the NHS as a midwife for 35 years. It passes the microphone to those who understand the Windrush and the scandal the most and gives them space to share their perspective. “If our history is not told, orally or visually, our history is lost. We have to honour them”.
A documentary with no visuals adds an interesting angle but Muhammad believes it only adds to the impact, “…the voice has to grip you…These voices are part of the struggle”. Jaja is an experienced storyteller with a light, upbeat voice, perfect for podcasting. And yes, its a serious subject but it’s still easy listening, jumping from voice to voice and building up a picture of the community. This is not a documentary for people who love documentaries. This a podcast for everyone.
Generation Windrush has come at the right time. In March of this year, the Home Office released the Windrush Lessons Learned Review authored by an independent party that stated that the Home Office’s behaviour towards the Windrush generation and their families was ‘consistent with some elements of the definition of institutional racism’. The week it was published, Covid-19 was here and the world couldn’t think or talk about anything else. The report was buried.
It’s tragic. Most of us know that the Windrush generation came to the UK and worked in essential services like developing the NHS, transport, manufacturing, construction and more. Now their children and grandchildren are putting their lives on the line to carry out these fundamental jobs during a pandemic. Their contributions continue to be undervalued when historical archives such as landing cards and burned, citizenships are stripped and families ripped apart. The report says what we already knew but what action will be taken to fix what can still be fixed? Not much so far.
Meanwhile, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of that generation are still on the frontline.
It’s a community that gives and keeps on giving – in ways big and small.
“I think Caribbeans are influential in many ways…our slang, our cuisine, Carnival…the culture is ingrained into British culture now”. Despite the hostile environment policies, most of us are here to stay.
It’s why podcasts like Generation Windrush are so important. We need to hear directly from the elders and the community leaders and the experts. Maintaining history is important. Colin Grant, who is featured in the series calls storytelling ‘an intergenerational conversation’. One of Muhammad’s main aims for the documentary is that she wants people to start to share and listen to each other more. “How people connect with it is their prerogative”. She just wants these people’s stories listened to. Acknowledged. What you do with what you’ve learned is up to you.
Both parts of Generation Windrush are available to listen to now.