Travels to the “motherland”.

Synonyms: native land, homeland, fatherland, country of origin.

I always feel a sense of sadness when I think of those people (some call them immigrants, or migrants) who travelled during the Windrush generation and came to the United Kingdom from the late 1940s. In 1948, the famed ship, the Empire Windrush touched down at the Port of Tilbury near London from Jamaica after 30 days out at sea. My first thoughts were:

“These people would have been excited and happy amongst a range of emotions. Most of all it was a brand new adventure that would reap rewards…”

Around 10 years later in the early 1960s the biggest wave of West Africans came to the UK. Some also came by boat and docked at the Liverpool docks. The feelings would have been the same.

Whether from Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana, Ghana or Nigeria and a host of other “nations” everybody was coming home to the motherland.

“Everybody was coming home to the motherland”

Let’s think this through. You’ve been educated in the UK school system under the colonial power. You have a trade or profession, worked to get money for the trip and proudly worn your best clothes to receive a “warm welcome” in the UK. Many of you came over as students as well. Quite a number would have fought in WWII supporting the UK and other allies. 

“They came to the motherland to build up this country after the war. You (the United Kingdom) not only asked them to come. You owned the lands they were coming from!”

A warm welcome!

An economy is in ruins and it reaches out to its “subjects” to come and build the mother country that brutally colonized and enslaved millions of people. They came in their droves, for a better and richer life.

It was a welcome but not one that was exactly warm. This only represents the tip of the iceberg for the prejudice and racism many at that time experienced. I know from those close to me in that generation the challenges and pure hatred at times they experienced. 

I look at this from another angle. What did the government expect from its native population when immigrants came over at this time? Did it care? I don’t think it was even a consideration at all. 

These generations did not get the welcome they deserved. The promise was one thing but the reality was truly heartbreaking.

Only stupid people travel in small boats

Photo by Dimitry Anikin on Unsplash

Why would you sail in a small boat or dinghy to get across the channel from France to the UK? 

In fact why would you start your journey from Africa, go through the harrowing Sahara Desert and end up in North Africa with little next to nothing? Then make a journey to Italy or Spain from the coast of Libya…then get to France or the UK?

Or why would you leave your war torn country, let’s say Afghanistan or Syria?…well, firstly it’s a no brainer given the destruction that your country has incurred over the years and secondly make your way to Europe?

Hostility is all around you, yet you continue your journey having sold part of your soul and “debt” incurred by your family to get here. 

“this isn’t a good idea, this is a very bad and stupid and dangerous and criminal thing to do”

This comment actually riled me. These words were uttered by the UK government…

Do you ever think of why? I mean we are in the middle of the biggest pandemic of this generation yet people still risk their lives to get here. 


People are leaving their native countries through the neo-colonisation of distant lands — wars, economic sanctions and the continued exploitation of their countries. It’s not hard to work it out. They are coming home to the motherland. The repercussions foreign policies do not go into the thin air. 

They result in the reverberating steps of refugees and asylum seekers. Under the British Empire you “invited” them to come. They did not encounter a humane welcome. 

Whether in 1948, 1960 or 2020, the welcome is the same, yet you demonise the arrivals in the manner of how they got here and what they want. 

Photo by Scott Rodgerson on Unsplash

Turning the tables

Let’s just imagine (not wish, but imagine) this happens… 
The pandemic took a turn for the worse in 20XX in Europe following the collapse of the economies and the virus that some thought allowed some sense of normality resulted in spikes rising up everywhere and the cause unknown.

Was it the weather? Was it the pollution? Nobody knew but people were leaving the country in their droves. Not to North America or Australasia which had suffered the same fate….but to Africa. 

People of all walks of life were turning up on ships to the west coast of Africa seeking refuge….

One question. What would the African nation do? What would the African do? Herein lies the crux of the matter. What is humane to some is not humane to others.

We live in an interconnected world. We cannot exist by just taking the “highly educated” with “advanced skills”. We must assist people in need. That is the most humane thing to do, right?

We must assist people in need. That is the most humane thing to do, right?


There is a growing feeling of #enoughisenough. 2020 hasgiven the space for people to breathe. Through the tragedy of the virus there has been a sense of change touching every aspect of life and that of the crossings are included. It intertwines itself with the protests ignited by the anti-racism protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd. 

Many may still support a government they put in power but there is also an underlying stronger conscience and morality that pushes back when stories like the channel crossings emerge. You have to have little in your heart to ignore it. 

It is simply not “humane” to treat those crossing the channel in such a terrible way.

  • What is the definition of an immigrant?
  • Who qualifies as a migrant?
  • Is somebody who moves from the UK to Africa a migrant, immigrant or expat?
  • Can somebody who has travelled from Jamaica to the UK be an expat?

More and more people are questioning the notion of what illegal means?

It is simply a reminder of: “What is it to be human?”

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