26
Jul-2006

Conversations with A Yard Man (Pt I)

Writing   /  

A “Yard man” is a Jamaican. Another term frequently used to describe Jamaicans is “Yardie”, but that has recently been appropriated and most people think of a Yardie as a gang member so I will use the former to refer to the man with whom I stood today in conversation with for around half hour.

He started the conversation with me as he saw the camera I was holding in my hands whilst waiting to pay for some goods in my local corner shop. He asked me if I was a journalist, to which I answered no. Our conversation carried on outside the shop as he relayed to me his interest in photography, and the fact that he was a film maker and music producer as well as a writer of music.

I think I was interested in what he had to say, because he seemed knowledgeable. He has been making videos he said since 1979. Since he came to Britain in 1975, I would say that he came upon his calling very quickly and found that he could make a living filming dances, weddings and funerals.

What was very interesting to me was his view on being a world citizen. I assumed by his accent, tone of phrase, and intonation that he was a Jamaican. As it turns out he was born in Guyana, South America. I was astonished because, I know (usually) how to recognise a Jafaken. But in actual fact, he wasn’t actually pretending to be someone he wasn’t, he simply claimed the earth and all it’s bounties for his own. He saw no need to demarkate one country from another. As he said “If I decide to go to a different country I can, if I choose to live there, there is nothing stopping me”. He also stated “If I go to Jamaica, the people there have a hard time differentiating me as a tourist”.

We stood and talked over the condition of black people in Britain, and we also spoke about the camera and how the use of such enables the seeing of things that would normally be missed. I took his number as I told him about the project that I am currently working on, he agreed to meet again with me so that I could photograph him for the project at some point over the coming weeks. I will post part II if I manage to link up with him again.

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