Finding Freedom of Strength

Today, Jamaica celebrates 55 years of independence. Whether it’s the food, music or language, we have all developed an opinion on Caribbean culture. The love for Jamaican culture has been universal since Bob Marley took to the world to spread his message of peace and love with Rasta man vibrations in the 70s. However, there is a lot more to this nation's story than what outsiders looking in can see. During the days when Bob Marley was singing his heart out, he was often speaking to his people in an effort to stop the violence that was being fuelled by political unrest. Post-colonial times are typically unsettling for most countries trying to find a new order after independence. Music has always played a strong role in how Jamaican people cope and find refuge in trying times. Different stories are told of life in Jamaica. From love to rivalries, storytelling is a strong part of Jamaican culture.

I was able to sit with Jamaican artist, Camille Chedda, during the Jamaica Biennial 2017 exhibition at the National Gallery of Jamaica. She showcased a project in representation of how she believes the colonial impact in Jamaica is visible today. The pieces, Under Construction and Catastrophe of Liberation (above, left to right), in my opinion, propose questions on whether or not things are truly being rebuilt or destroyed. The theories may vary but Jamaican people will always find a way to be happy no matter the truth of their circumstances. When I asked Chedda about her inspiration for these pieces she showed me a controversial video of a female Dancehall performer that she speaks as being arguably a symbol of strength and freedom among her university students. She disagrees with this theory. However, she believes that this perception stems from the influence colonialism has had on the perspectives of many people. Still unable to see past limitations and realize greater displays of strength and freedoms are attainable.

When it comes to crossroads like these it is interesting that both perspectives are in fact content and satisfied. These things are all subjective as freedom to one may not be freedom to another.  It's important to know what gives you strength and own it. Chedda's work takes us to the basis of the rebuilding process. Find the destruction and rebuild. Perspective has the power to make all the difference no matter how big or small the challenge. If we can't see past destruction how can we find our way? As Bob Marley would say, "emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds."

You can view more of Camille Chedda's powerful pieces via her online portfolio. Subscribe to this journal below for more stories like this.

Thanks for reading.

Written by Monique Hoilett, @alifemag