ELDERS from Bristol’s Caribbean community have been honoured for their contribution to society at a ceremony at Colston Hall.
As part of Black History Awareness Month and the 50th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence, the first generation of Jamaicans to arrive in Britain were recognised for paving the way for future generations.
The event was the brainchild of chef Branatic Neufville from Rice and Things restaurant in Stokes Croft. The Jamaican-born chef has been cooking all his life and set up his own business after being inspired by an elder who wanted to buy his food.
Known as “Chef”, the Jamaican said he wanted to organise the ceremony as Jamaica celebrates 50 years of independence.
The first wave of Caribbean people to arrive in the UK came from Jamaica in 1948 at the invitation of the British government, to help replenish the workforce after the war.
The main award of the night was for a life-time commitment to race equality.
Mr Neufville said: “It’s about respect… and ensuring that our elders are feeling, on their last days, that the message they have started, someone is taking it up and is prepared to carry it along.
“It’s about time our youths, our younger generation, respect the harsh life they had to put up with when they just came here.
“It wasn’t as easy as what we’ve got now and we must pay attention to what they’ve done and show them the gratitude that they deserve.”
He said: “I have so much respect for the older generation and wanted to treat them to the best food imaginable. To combine it with an award ceremony is the icing on the cake.”
Over 80 people were honoured at the gala dinner with 20 special honours made in the first awards ceremony of its kind.
Chef Neufville treated the 120-strong guest list to a four-course authentic Caribbean banquet. The menu included lobster and crab, callaloo steamed in coconut milk, escovitch tilapia fillets as well as chef’s signature curried goat dish.
Chef was taught to cook by his grandmother in Jamaica
He said: “When you look around you and see the level of breakdown in society, in discipline, in knife crime, the gun crime, it’s all young people below the age of 25.
“What that says to me is they have no regards for the legacy that has been left and the things that have been done so we can have a better life. It’s being taken for granted.
“We need to take back society and not let it go to rot.
“We need to show some respect for the work these people have done, not just the black migrants but those that helped us to settle here when we came here because we couldn’t have done it on our own.”
Mr Neufville, who was taught to cook by his grandmother in Jamaica, cooked a four-course Caribbean banquet for the guests, including lobster and crab, callalou steamed in coconut milk, escovitch tilapia fillets and goat curry.
He said: “Some of them end up in old people’s homes and the food – there’s a difference in culture – there’s no care as to what they eat.
“Tonight might be a night that they have eaten a real Caribbean meal in a long while.”
Barbara Brown, a consultant who helped organise the night, said: “The benevolence across the city has been amazing.
“In outlining what we hoped the event would be, others have extended themselves so that we can collectively say ‘thank you’.”
The venue has been donated by Colston Hall, with Bristol Blue Glass offering glassware for the awards.
A message of support has been sent by the governor-general of Jamaica, Sir Patrick Allen, talking about the courage and endurance of the migrants of the 1950s and 60s “pathing the way for the benefit of future generations”.