Ena Radway. Windrush Cymru: Our Voices, Our Stories, Our History 2019

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Summary of oral history interview with Ena Radway, discussing her experience of growing up within a family which migrated from the Caribbean during the 1960s. Ena Radway was born in Jamaica and her husband sent for her in 1962.
Part 1

23 July 2019
Length 24.22 minutes

My full name is Ena Verita Radway.
My father’s name was Wilbert Summon, my mother was Beatrice. I can’t remember what my mother did, like a domestic. My father worked on a plantation which cultivated yam and different things, cocoa which Jamaica people used.  We didn't have to go to the market.
I was born in Jamaica. It was fun growing up in Jamaica, not a lot around you like not a lot of money - it was a happy time. I used to like to play like, hide and seek. We know we have to do house work after school and church. But when we have our time are quite happy.
I had three siblings. I was the middle one. Another sister, my brother and me. School was good, very strict you had to do your homework.
My hopes and dreams: from a child I love the Lord, and was brought up to love the Lord, knowing that he is good. We went to Sunday school, and I always think if I have a family of my own, I would teach them; hope that they grow to stand in society. My family was very religious. My father was quite strict; he would get annoyed if you don't listen and would shout, and quick to hit you; his eyes would roll at you and you know exactly what that means; growing up as a child, and now as a woman I like to listen; people saying anything but it’s up to me to make my decision.

[coming to the United kingdom]

I came to the UK ending of March 1962; I was 25. I was married and my husband came over first about nine months before. The Queen, as you all know, invite us to come to this country. We came here with Jamaica black passport.  We were invited to come, if you could afford to pay the fare. He was always a traveller, my husband and he sent for me. We were British subjects at that time, before Jamaica getting independence. Everything began to rather unravel, and then the problems start. We came here as British subjects.
I did not have much view of what to expect. There was a saying that Britain was paved with gold. When I came here it was a completely different story. We worked hard. Britain was not like it is now.
Somethings here, where similar to what Jamaica style, lights; some roads never built; years progressed things move on and things change. It was hard going because you didn't know nobody here, there wasn’t a lot of black people in Wales either. Just a few.

I came on the plane, landing at Heathrow and taking the coach to Wales. When I came here the first thing was everywhere were shut up. I didn't understand, if you have to go in the shop you had to push a door and everything was closed. Not like know the stalls. And people were very hostile. Seeings as there wasn’t a lot of black people in Wales at that time. We rented accommodation, there wasn’t a lot around; some people were telling you they had to share beds. We rented a room. We had gas to cook. It was very cold weather, cold, cold. No central heating in most houses;  there was one fire in the front room where you uses Calor gas. That’s what we’d buy just to get warm. We had a machine and you put the gas at the back.

We were not very popular when we came here. People were hostile. Like you go in a shop and they stare at you, like you was somebody from the sky that they never met. You cope with it, this situation. Some wouldn’t speak to you and things like that. A year after, when they started to build houses because more people were coming in now. No more people coming in from the West Indies, didn't have nowhere to live. The council started building houses and give it to tenants. That’s why I got a house. You had to fill a form in; how long you were in the country, and your occupation, and where you live and so forth. And then you wait for you turn to come. They write your letter to say that considering you, and then when they have the building they drop you a letter and the key; so you go and look into it. It was a rejoicing time because you have your own place now. People would go to church and we’d never lock our doors, because nobody would come in. You can’t do it now. I didn't have much problem because I’m never a troublemaker, you know, I run from it.

I came here as a Christian and that's what kept me going. Of all the things that you come in contact with, I trust the Lord, and I believe in his word, and He helped us to overcome. A of things, like children booing in the street, you just ignore them. Some people couldn’t handle it.  I’m a human being like you, I might be different colour, but if you cut me you get the same red blood. That's how we take it, we survive without letting it affect us. Some of my children face it, racism, but they managed to overcome it. Never let it get to them, to stop them from aiming for what they want to do. So just thank God every day is good. It’s good to trust in the Lord, He will help you, deliver you from it. The problem is we can’t manage it by ourselves. We’re still standing by His grace.

I always remember Jamaica, where I’m coming from. My parents didn’t have a lot, but they give us whatever they could afford. We understand they couldn’t give us a lot but whatever they had they would say this is what I have so you’re content. But hope that some day things would be better. You could help them as well. We hoped when we came here that we could help them. I used to go back when my parents were alive, not very often but I would go back. 2014 my sister died, that was the last I went. I used to support them because they didn't have no other source. I didn’t think I would retired in this country, because everybody come here and say they would spend five years and go back. But you could do a lot with the money you get because things were cheap. I don’t have any regrets. No regrets in my childhood because I had a good upbringing. A lot of things I have been told by my parents is helping me, living in my life the way I should.


[Do I feel British?]

What can I say? Yes, at the moment. I wasn’t born in this country, but all the carry on in America, it’s disgusting isn’t it? I feel settled by this time and season. Don't know what the future holds, but for now I feel like I’m settled.
Do I feel that the Britain I came into and the Britain now is different? Completely different. People were friendly, and talk and share things together, it’s not like that now, or I don’t find it like that now. The whole world is changing isn’t it? Things don’t remain as they was. But through God we will win the battle. The battle of what is going on now, a young man can be walking in the street and be killed and you wonder what is it all. For some people live for them is so uncertain because a lot of them don't know God and don’t want to know either, so they rely on in their own self and what can the self give you. But that’s how it is right now. It's a good world gone crazy, man messed it up and it becomes so hostile. People walk out on the streets, young people and the next thing you hear they’re dead. Someone is dead in Cardiff this week, a young man. I wonder what's this all about. There's no love in their hearts, they just want to kill, kill, kill what can society do to amend without God? There is nothing they can do, even no matter what they say, is only God can help us to put this thing under control. Man can’t do it. You have to trust that people will look another way, to know there is a creator who loves them. On a Monday night we’re praying here and our prayer is that God will help the people to understand that God have created them for a purpose, and He loves them. They’re life is to serve and do what is best. I believe things will change. That’s my belief. That we can make this world a better place to live. Man can’t give peace. There is a vacuum that’s empty all the time. You hear people testify that vacuum is filled with the love of God, nothing else. No matter what they have, no money will give them happiness only God.


[The value of stories]

I believed these stories are important for the next generation because a lot of them haven’t been told, and they haven't been taught in school life. People who have experienced these things should explain to their children, to say this is ABC, but you are still human and whatever you want to do you can do it. They should be told the truth from the beginning, and a lot of them wouldn't get themselves in trouble I don't think so. They need to know their background; your family and they need to know. If people are asking them questions they can say oh my mother is this. Calling them black and this and that. They have a purpose in life, and what they can become with the ability that God gave them. The sky could be the limit.

Part 2
23 July 2019
Length 7.26 minutes

I worked at a few factories, I worked at Sanders Bar it used to be further down the road. I worked at Young’s battery factory. I didn’t stay long as that wasn’t what I wanted to do. My first hospital job was at Glen Elly, Fairwater in Cardiff for six years doing nights when my children were young. I kept applying because I wanted a job in the Gwent as it was so close. I applied a few times and there were no vacancies so in 1972 I received a form and went for the interview and got the job. I worked eighteen years on nights until my youngest could stay on their own. My husband had a day job. Then I come on days to work. When I finished there I was sixty-six. I was not a midwife, but we worked on the ward and did everything for the women and the babies. We worked with doctors and consultants. When I got this job I said to God, if you spare my life, I will keep this job until I retire.


I’m never a quiet person, I’m always busy. I worked as a treasurer for the Church. Four of us sat and had a meal and talked and set up a luncheon club, fifteen years ago. We had a new pastor and he did the kitchen and the building up; he was here for twelve years. We did other functions, like weddings, cook for the schools up the valleys. Every Wednesday we meet. Community is very important. We receive a lot for support from the Church for the luncheon club. It’s so important, some days you go and have nothing to say, but they’re always loyal to the Church. We pray for them all the time. Sometimes we get naughty ones. I was speaking to the ladies last week, Sister Dell, Sister Smith. My strength that keeps me going is God. I do whatever is in my power to help and to be a servant for the Lord. That’s what keeps me going. I don’t like to sit down doing nothing. I like to be busy. I still like to do what I like to do. People still need my help.


I was married in Jamaica. I didn’t train over there. I didn’t work much in Jamaica. When i came here i work all my life. Some people when they retire relax, but I took on Church work, hard work, because I’m quite happy doing what i’m doing. When i get tired i know i am the only one who is cooking over here on a Wednesday, can’t do more than that. I do try to do more but it is too much.