How one Suffolk author’s book has touched Ipswich’s Windrush community
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
An unfiltered look at life in Jamaica has been documented in a glossy photo book – much to the delight of Ipswich’s Jamaican population.
Katerina Budinova, of Ipswich, is the author behind Jamaica: The Land We Love, a book that has been carefully curated to showcase the true side of the West Indian isle.
Taking its title from the name of the country’s national anthem, the 340-page book, took seven years to create and is a joint effort between Katerina and her brother Michal Šott.
It explores the hidden side of Jamaica, away from the tourist traps, and delves deep into the heart of the Caribbean island through a series of candid shots.
Originally from the Czech Republic, Katerina moved to England 16 years ago, and has been living in locally since 2011. Explaining the inspiration behind her book, she says: "My brother and I are big fans of reggae music and Jamaican culture. Eventually, we started going on holiday there, but as we were preparing to go, we couldn’t find any books that showed off the ‘real’ Jamaica. After we came back from our first trip, we decided that we wanted to see more of Jamaica - beyond the resorts - and that’s where the idea of the photo book came from.”
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Heading back and forth every six months in a pre-lockdown world, Katerina’s brother Michal would spend his days travelling around the isle, getting to know the local population as he immersed him in the culture.
“We really wanted to showcase the beauty of the Jamaica, and its people,” explains Katerina.
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“Throughout the book, there’s shots of landscapes, mountains and rivers, and those who live there. We really wanted to capture everything off the beaten track - from what the people eat to how they cook, to how they live and what they do. It’s all about local people and the local community.”
Katerina, who works as a business manager at engineering firm Crane, authored the book, while her brother took the majority of the photos.
“By working on this book, I really wanted to make sure I supported the Jamaican community both out there and here in the UK, especially the one here in Ipswich.”
Previously, Katerina has worked closely with the local Jamaican community, having been involved in Windrush festivals that have taken place in the town.
Katerina says all of the profits from her book will go directly back into the Jamaican community – both in Jamaica and here in the UK.
“We made some amazing relationships while putting the book together, and we worked especially close with local village schools, so we decided to put the profits back into the local community. We can use that money to help buy uniforms for the children, and ultimately change their lives where we can.
“While working on the project, my brother became close with a pair of locals, Stacy-Ann Dawkins and Noel Dawson. They’ve spent their whole lives living in Jamaica, growing up with next to nothing, but helped us put the book together - and we’re incredibly grateful for that.”
A portion of the money from Katerina’s project will go specifically towards Ipswich’s Windrush community – who have been extremely receptive and thankful for the book.
“The response we’ve received locally has been absolutely mind-blowing. There’s so many second and third generation Jamaicans here in Ipswich, and many of them have never actually been to Jamaica.”
The Windrush generation refers to the group of people who arrived in the UK between 1948 and 1971 from a variety of Caribbean countries. The name comes from the ship MV Empire Windrush, which brought over workers and their families to help fill post-war job shortages in the UK.
2018 was the 70th anniversary of the first Windrush settlers arriving in the country – with significant numbers eventually settling in Ipswich in 1954.
“Some of the local people who’ve read my book told me they cried when they saw it. It must’ve been a really overwhelming feeling for these grandparents, as they could introduce their home country and their people to their children and grandchildren. I just feel so fortunate that I’ve been able to help Ipswich’s Windrush generation feel that emotion.
“This isn’t some travel agency book or glossy TV documentary - it’s real, grassroots Jamaica. I want to plant readers’ feet on the ground and allow them to experience the country through a realistic lens.”
Katerina’s book, Jamaica: The Land We Love, is available through Amazon, Waterstone and WH Smiths.