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Have we lost the values of the Windrush generation?

TIME FOR REFLECTION: Rose Hudson-Wilkins

DURING A recent church service in Birmingham celebrating the 51st anniversary of Jamaican Independence, keynote speaker, Rev Rose Hudson Wilkins told the congregation they should make their children a priority, focus on getting them a good education and value spending time with them, rather than buying expensive cars and large TVs. She also said that quality of life is more important than material things.

The comments, featured in a Voice website news report, made me realise Rev Hudson-Wilkins was really reminding her audience of the key values which sustained the Caribbean community when they migrated here during the 1950s and 60s and caused me to ask, what happened to us?

Caribbeans arrived en masse in the UK during the 1950s and 60s to work and build a better life for themselves and their families. That better life included getting a good education for their children, because they knew being qualified was the pathway to a good job or profession.


It was a community that espoused a healthy respect for family, oneself, each other, God and the Bible, (whether they were Christians or not). Although they liked nice things, valued ambition and achievements, they eschewed materialism, boastfulness and ruthlessness.

Others values that were deemed important included having good manners, good character, being truthful, knowing one’s own mind and not being easily influenced by others. So it’s no wonder that Caribbean parents of that era stressed to their children that they should befriend positive people and avoid individuals who were bad minded or criminally inclined.

These values served as the building blocks upon which the Caribbean community was built. It’s a tragedy that in the space of one generation, increasing numbers seem to have to thrown them away and replaced them with behaviour that is often transient, meaningless and does nothing to aid our progress.

I believe that laying aside these values is one of the contributory factors to the rise in youth crime, gangs, fatherless families, the lack of respect between the genders and much more.

There’s a verse in Jeremiah 6:16 which states, “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls."

Sometimes in order to move forward, it’s good to look backwards to revisit and reclaim those things of worth that have been lost. We need to re-instate those age-old values that helped keep our families together, encouraged our children to learn and enabled us to aspire to success and get rid of the dross that is dragging us down. Our children are our future. Let’s make them our priority, and teach them the right things in the process.

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