IN JAMAICA, IT’S COMMON to see an elderly person addressed as “Elder,” which is viewed as paying respect to the older inhabitants of the island, most born before Jamaica’s independence from England in 1962. These men and women are a walking library, holding information passed on to them by their grandparents who were born into slavery.
Both of my maternal grandparents were a wealth of knowledge although they both lacked any formal education. My grandfather — a skilled laborer from May Pen, Clarendon — helped construct many of the buildings erected in the ’50s and ’60s. Deacon Fisher was a jovial man, loved by the community and often called “father” by the many children who were without one.
Sister Lillian, my grandmother, was a stern and proud Christian woman who, because she gave more than she received, many people growing up at that time thought was wealthy. In actuality, she sold fish in the fishing village of Rocky Point, Clarendon.
After both of them passed a few years ago, I began to meditate on the rapidly dwindling society of my elders in Jamaica and returned there frequently, attempting to capture the essence of these men and women. Although they’re still viewed as the backbone of Jamaican society, the reality is we won’t have many of them around in the next 20 years. I traveled with camera in hand hoping to document these storytellers. What I found in each portrait was a proud history coupled with a humble yet strong dignity.
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Respect due to our elders everytime, they are the foundation, thanks for this article!!
Jamaican women always look 20 years younger than their age.
These are some of the most beautiful portraits I have seen. Just truly great.
So impressive….very proud of our culture….”Out of many …..one people “
Thank you all for the support. I enjoyed shooting these. This is part of an ongoing story so stay tuned!
The elders are our compass to help us navigate our way through life….a living breathing information repository….without them we’re but trees without root….leaves in the wind. All credence due to our idaltus (elders)
Your portrayal of Banana Man, is an extremely good photographic work. I like it very much.
I had to hold up my head after looking at these pictures I am so proud.
Thanks for the exposure, excellent photography. When I look at granny #2 I just want to hug her. Emotionally compelling work