What does it mean to be a Hero(ine), Unsung: The Windrush Generation A Pillar of Modern Britain

Posted on: Wednesday 22 June 2022
Author: John Ndikum

I am certain that the stories of historically ‘great’ figures if printed and piled on top of the other, would touch the upper reaches of the planet’s atmosphere. Perhaps a little optimistic, but my certainty nonetheless remains.

We lionise and celebrate – and rightfully so – those who have given so much of themselves for the benefit of humankind. Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa, Marie Curie; I could go on. You know their names, and so do I.

But what of those whose names have never reached our ears or touched our lips? What of those to whom we owe so much, and who still live among us? It is for such heroes and heroines that I pen this article:

Dr John Ndikum
Dr John Ndikum

Responding to the clarion call of Empire, the men and women of the ‘Windrush Generation’ left their homes to bring to England the gift of their talents, aspiration, hopes and dreams. They were driven, determined, aspirational and courageous – that is to say, they embodied the timeless human virtues praised by Pharaohs, Emperors, Kings, Queens and Presidents alike. Despite being possessed of the indomitable will of spirit to which I alluded earlier and for which we praise our desired heroes, they nevertheless fell prey to the underbelly of a society that rarely considered them equals.

The men and women of the Windrush Generation were forbidden from purchasing homes on the very island they now considered home. They were limited from sharing recreational activities with people they now considered friends. And the educational system – by immediately labelling many of them as ‘educationally subnormal’ – pigeonholed them into the most limited of educational ‘opportunities’, hindering their future prospects. But they nonetheless thrived: in response to the former, they formulated a ‘Pardner System’ which provided many with the opportunity to raise the funds required to secure their own homes. In response to the latter, they developed ‘weekend schools’, opening the door to academic excellence in the face of educational policies inimical to their scholastic progress. Their collective ingenuity beggars belief. Did they not do the duty for which they were summoned – to serve as a pillar to a nation in reconstruction? They did this, and so much more. They nursed our ailing parents, cleaned our homes as we took part in rebuilding, taught our children, and maintained our public transport. Entire families frequently lived in one room, but nonetheless organised, contributed and continued to serve.

And many of them still live among us today.

I would like us all to take a moment to recognise the unsung heroes of the Windrush Generation. Let us remember that the request to which they responded was not, ‘help us rebuild while we treat you deplorably’. That is what they experienced, but they nevertheless found a way to overcome, paving the way for initiatives such as Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, of which I am now inextricably and proudly a part.

May Windrush Day celebrations remind us that below the shimmering glimmer of contemporary civilization lie the hearts and minds of many who want nothing more than to for you to call them a ‘friend’. Let today be one where we recognise them not only as friends, but as the heroes and heroines that they are. Let it be a day for us all to finally sing in jubilation and gratitude, for those of the Windrush Generation.

It is only fitting that in recognition of the sacrifice and toil of these individuals, the British government inaugurated an official Windrush Day – the 22nd of June of each year. May we all similarly acknowledge their contributions by uniting in commemoration in some way, shape or form – a quiet dinner with the family, a prayer, or even a dance – to the unsung heroes of the Windrush Generation.

Thank you for what that you have made possible for us all, as we continue to build towards an ever more harmonious world. May you remain unsung no more.


Warmly Yours,


Dr. John Ndikum

Chair, FPM Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Forum

Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine

Dr. John Ndikum
Chair, FPM Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Forum

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