For Jamaica Mi Crazy, London based photographer Stefy Pocket captures life on streets of Spanish Town, cutting against stereotypes about the former Jamaican capital—now known for its high crime rate—to reveal the threads of joy and exuberance that run through its neighborhoods.
Pocket got her first taste of Jamaican culture while attending the funeral of the father of a friend, who had been active in London’s Jamaican community. Following the ceremony, she was swept up the festivities of a party that lasted for twelve hours, and the intimacy and vitality of the celebration stayed with her long after the event had concluded. It was so impressed upon her, in fact, that she soon found herself traveling to Spanish Town, where she remained with relatives of the friend for a month.
Although Pocket admits that the area has been affected by years of poverty and crime, she never once felt unsafe living in the family home on Saint Ann’s Road. She spent her days sitting beneath a mango tree under the hot Jamaican sun, getting to know the neighbors and passersby who greeted her with the popular salutation “full joy.” Most people in Spanish Town, she explains, live off of one dollar per day or less, but despite financial need, they find ways not only to survive but to celebrate the everyday. The streets, says Pocket, are lined with coconut trees and flavored by the smell of jerk chicken and occasional whiffs of marijuana. Reggae music plays, and the sun never stops shining. Most of the people she met were unemployed and whiled away the hours simply enjoying each other’s company, living by the uplifting words “Jamaica no problem.”
The photographer cooked with members of the community, savored meals with them, and picked up bits and pieces of Jamaican Creole. She was welcomed wholeheartedly. Although Spanish Town attracts few tourists, she sees it as a mecca of cultural activity and creative energy, a community filled to the brim with beauty and richness. In her own words, Spanish Town is “a kind of city that knows no fear and hides behind big ass speakers during street parties.”
All images © Stefy Pocket