As British society increasingly questions its colonialist past and the resulting racism, the monument was unveiled in the concourse of Waterloo station, one of the busiest in the UK, through which were of thousands of these migrants, on the occasion of “Windrush Day”, instituted in 2018.

The 3.65-meter statue by Jamaican sculptor Basil Watson depicts a man in Sunday clothes holding his wife by the hand, accompanied by a child looking in another direction, standing on suitcases.

The government underlined the “exceptional contribution” of these thousands of people who came to the United Kingdom between 1948 and 1971 to participate in the reconstruction of the country after the Second World War, but deprived of rights, or even detained or expelled for lack of the necessary documents.

Wishing to make it “a permanent place of reflection”, he praised their “courage, commitment and tenacity”. He financed it to the tune of one million pounds (more than 1,160,000 euros).

“British life is in all its aspects better thanks to the half-million men and women of the Windrush generation,” said Prince William, grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, at the inauguration.

This generation takes its name from the ship Empire Windrush, which arrived on June 22, 1948 at the port of Tilbury, about forty kilometers east of London, with hundreds of migrants on board from the Caribbean, mainly from Jamaica, but also Bermuda or British Guiana.

In early 2018, a scandal revealed that the government had treated some of these migrants, who were supposed to be British, as illegal immigrants, asking them to prove their presence in the United Kingdom each year or face deportation. A compensation program was launched the following year for these migrants, whose treatment was described by a parliamentary report as “truly shameful”.

– “Reconnaissance” – 

The monument pays tribute “to the dreams and aspirations, to the courage and dignity, to the gifts and talents” of these thousands of migrants who arrived with “the hope of contributing to a society which they expected to welcome them in return”, said sculptor Basil Watson, whose parents were among them.

“I would never have imagined something” as good, told AFP about the statue a passenger from the Windrush Empire, Alford Gardner, 96, while calling on the government to speed up the payment of compensation.

According to The Guardian newspaper, only one in four claimants have received a payment.

“It’s nice to think that anyone who passes the statue will remember that members of the Windrush generation put on their best clothes to go to the UK and help rebuild what they considered their new home,” said Angela Wilson, daughter of immigrants from the Caribbean.

She called the monument a ‘tremendous recognition’ but also said she ‘looks forward to the Home Secretary correcting the mistakes made and making sure everyone has the necessary papers to prove they are British citizens’ .

This inauguration takes place in a context of introspection in the United Kingdom on the slavery and colonialist past of its institutions, including the monarchy.

Elizabeth II posted a message to “thank the pioneers of Windrush and their descendants” and salute “a historic moment”.

Present with his wife Kate, Prince William saw a recent tour of the Caribbean marked by demonstrations, requests for apologies and Republican desires. His father Charles, heir to the throne, is visiting Rwanda this week for a summit of the Commonwealth, an organization made up mainly of former British colonies, after having according to the press criticized the migration policy of the government of Boris Johnson who wants to deport applicants. asylum to this East African country.