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The African and Caribbean Memorial

20170906_074828_resized“A design almost too stunning for its surroundings.”

The African Caribbean Memorial comprises of two beautifully arranged 6’ long obelisks of black Scottish Whinstone. Each end or top tapers into a pyramidion, and is set on and backed by the finest Ancaster
stone. Weighing five tonnes in total, they were chosen as a tribute to the ancient African Roman legion based in England during the 3rd century who were protecting Hadrian’s Wall from the Scottish Celts.

This was then inscribed with the names of regiments, forces, contingents and troops from Africa and the Caribbean, as well as those currently serving in the forces today, and positioned against the listed Bovril wall on Windrush Square in Brixton, South London. It is a tribute to the almost forgotten contribution made by tens of thousands of Caribbean and African men and women to the war efforts during the two World Wars. This is the only physical monument of its kind, dedicated to the contribution made by service men and women from the Caribbean and Africa, not only in the United Kingdom, but also Europe.

As I stood in the square beside it with Jak Beula – its initiator and designer – an elderly gentleman, when asked by Jak what he thought of it, came out with the declaration: “it’s bloody elegant!” and he’s right – but I’d go further to describe it as ‘Spiritually Elegant’. More than eight years in the making, from the initial concept as an addition to the 35 blue plaques which have been mounted onto various buildings and structures around the UK, it remembers important people throughout black history who have made an impact in the United Kingdom. The Memorial was unveiled on 22nd June 2017 – Windrush Day, so called because as a result of the plea by Prime Minister Clement Attlee to help Britain recover from the devastations of World War Two, many answered the call and boarded the ship that arrived on that day in Tilbury Docks.

The African and Caribbean Memorial (AC Memorial) is a memorial to those from Africa and The Caribbean who served alongside British and Commonwealth forces during the First and Second World Wars.

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So why here and why now?

Well, this truly is a more suitable location than some may actually appreciate… In 1998, the now Windrush Square, then an area of public open space in front of The Tate Library Brixton, was renamed to celebrate and recognise the important contributions made by the African Caribbean Community to the location since the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the ship the ‘MV Windrush’ in 1948, bringing the first large group of (post-war) West Indian (mainly Jamaican) migrants to the United Kingdom.

On arrival, the almost 500 were mainly temporarily housed approximately two miles away in Clapham South. Historically, the roles played by the Commonwealth populaces during the Great Wars have been sadly and shamefully absent. It was necessary to correct this wrong and create a lasting legacy that valued the support and sacrifice made by African and Caribbean Military Servicemen and women’s participation in the two World Wars.

Among the notable politicians and dignitaries in attendance on the day were:-
• The Defence Secretary Rt. Hon. Sir Michael Fallon MP
• Chiefs of Defence Staff from African and Caribbean countries
• High Commissions from Commonwealth Nations
• The London Mayor Sadiq Khan
• Members of the House of Lords
• Members of Parliament
• War Veterans
• In-Service Men and Women
• Other Dignitaries
• The General Public

Preserving the AC Memorial is an on-going labour of love and the Trust would gratefully welcome any donations to assist the charity with this maintenance and, likewise, any interest from sponsors to support us with its upkeep.

Take a look at the AC memorial website to see how you can help and get involved.