I was born here in England – by Richard Roach

Last night at the Making Migration Work event, a joint venture between Union Chapel and TogetherintheUK, we were honoured that Richard Roach wrote a poem especially for the occasion. It beautifully captures the joys and sorrows of migration and we were privileged to hear him speak it.

I was born here in England – by Richard Roach

I was born here in England

Right here in the thick of it

Freezing cold winters

Fry ups, fish and chips

I’m a British citizen 

And growing up I always wondered why my nan and grandad spoke a little different

Was so oblivious until they started pointing fingers

Go back to your own country! I thought I was from here in England?

Told me an a African, I started looking inwards

That’s when I met my ancestors 

The doors flew of the hinges.

Yes I’m an immigrant  

We’ve travelled here from the Gambian villages 

Now were here in east London

My neighbours are Indian, eastern European or African Caribbean 

Everybody’s over here, were all just tryna make a living

In the inner cities, working or fleeing war torn conditions

We’re all here trying to work our way around the system

Some of the mandem got hurled inside a prison

Were all on a mission, we faced criticism

That’s why were so thick skinned and resilient

Mothers looking for a safe space to raise the children

So many multi-talented men and women, Skilled

Spiritual, Strong Willed  

A traveller out in here in the field!

Its real out here, ever so real

I feel blessed to have lived through the storms

Soldiers and survivors of wars

Of course, it has been an obstacle course 

Prayers for everyone who has resettled abroad

The tongues ten times mightier than the sword

So spread messages, share your intelligence

Connect with other tribes, friendships form

I met from people from all over the world in school

Its all love no matter where in the world you were born

I was taught to read and write

My grandma couldn’t read or write at all

She’s 75 now and still stands tall

  Made many sacrifices’ so I can live as I do

I’m the grandson of someone who migrated from Banjul 

And made migration work

We’ve all made huge contributions 

After the war who do you think helped build back Britain 

Yes, immigrants, alongside the English

We’ve done lots of things to be proud of lets sing and dance

Even though its been overlooked 

You’ve got Scholars who came here and wrote books

We’re now Politicians, and we know great Mathematicians

And we’ve brought so many different Religions 

Physicians, Musicians so many Role Models

We made the place lit fam

We’ve had our ups and downs but could never take away our richness

I was born here in London but I feel like an immigrant 

My name’s Ibrahim but over here they call me Richard. 

Leave a Reply