With Dominica having the highest number of living centenarians per capita in the world, the Dominica Council of Ageing (DCOA) has dedicated today September 23, 2021, as centenarian’s day.
In observing the inaugural day which seeks to highlight the contribution that they have made to the nation, Dominica News Online (DNO) in collaboration with the DCOA is spotlighting the 23 durable Dominican gems who include 6 males and 17 females.
Topping the list are Dominica’s oldest living centenarians, 107-year- old Elizabeth Auguiste better known as “Ma Willy ” of Crayfish River and Anastasie Charles better known as “Ma Maggie” of Wesley.
Ma Willy, who was born on 21 March 1914, used to prepare castor oil and coconut oil, and a wide variety of herbal medicines in her younger days. In 2013, she was awarded by the Ministry of Carib Affairs and the Kalinago Council for agro-processing.
Ma Maggie, who was born just about a month later -26 April 1914- is a former farmer and housemaid who worked on the Londonderry Estate.
At 106 years old, Mrs. Philomene “Ma Dor” Goodall and Oscar “Popeye” Joseph are two centenarians who strongly believe that “you should eat what you grow.”
A former housewife and farmer from the community of Delice, Ma Dor was born on 20 August 191.5
Popularly known as the original ice cream man, Mr. Popeye, also a former sailor, was born on 2 September of that same year.
Two prominent women back in the day are 105-year-old Mrs. Mionette Bannis, known by many as Ma Laywoss of Paix Bouche and Rennel Adrien of Les Point.
Both were born in 1916, Mrs. Bannis on 27 April and Ms. Adrien on 15 July.
Mrs Bannis was a famous baker in her community, while Ms. Adrien was one of the most prominent seamstresses in the Massacre area. She also served as treasurer on the Board at the St. Paul’s Credit Union and was a member of the Women’s Social League.
Despite their age of 104, ask anyone who knows them and they’ll tell you that these next three centenarians are still as vibrant as someone half their age.
Born on 28 April 1917, Asher “Uncle Mark” Timothy, who is from the community of Marigot, spent most of his life in Guadeloupe and on his return, worked as an overseer at the Melville Hall Estate.
Born days apart in 1917, Angela Cuffy (May 24) from Bioche was a self-employed seamstress and Joseph Charles (May 30), affectionately known as Mr. Boyd in his community of Warner, toiled the land as a farmer in his prime.
Another two of the island’s precious gems at a 103 years, are Elma “Ma Labad” Labad who was born on 14 December 1917 and Felicite “Nenen” Alexander who was born the following year on 15 June 1918.
Ma Labad earned her living while working at the Tobacco Factory while Nenen, from Tete Morne, did so as a vendor at the Roseau market.
At 102, these centenarians are lovers of life’s simplicity.
A local food lover, Wallis ‘Disho’ Mathew was born on 30 September 1918 in the serene village of Penville.
Hesketh Casimir of Goodwill, born on October 30th 1918, is best known for his extraordinary service to Dominica through the Music Lovers Government Band which he helped create in June 1951, and led as Band Master for more than 36 years.
Born on 30 April 1919, Antonine Roberts from the community of Riviere Cyrique, in her younger days, worked as a caretaker for elderly persons.
A former housewife and a farmer, Veronica John from the community of Bataca, was born on 1 June 1919.
Anastasie “Ma Jazz” George was born on 22 July 1919. She is a former vendor at the Roseau Market who comes from the community of Bath Estate.
A cultural man and a lover of ground provision, pork and coffee, 101-year-old Daniel Phillip from the community of Grand Fond was born on 9 November 1919. Even as his age began to creep upon him, he continued playing the Tambou with cultural groups in his community.
Despite the many challenges which they’ve lived through, these 101-year-old ladies, Celina George from Goodwill born on 15 February 1920, Marcelline ‘Nanin’ Letang from Thibaud -17 march 1920- and Jane “Ma Jane” Graham from Castle Bruce -12 June 1920- will all tell you that they have lived a good life.
These long-lasting jewels earned their living as a seamstress and employee at the Tranto Estate, a housewife, and a domestic worker, respectively.
The youngest centenarians on the list are three jovial women, who recently reached the milestone of 100.
Born in the vibrant community of Grand Bay on 23 November 1920, the former cook, Angelic Lavinier, also worked as a labourer on the Melville Hall & Geneva estates in her younger days.
As for Edvira Anatol, were it not for her birth certificate which confirms her date of birth as 23 February 1921, one would be hard pressed to believe that the Penville native and former housewife, was already 100 years old.
The youngest of the lot, Epheline Laville, was born on 11 March 1920. She is known in her community of Atkinson for her signature soup which she shared with the locals every Christmas.
In March of this year, Dominica increased its tally of living centenarians to 27, but sadly, within a three month period, four of the island’s gems passed away.
They include, 101 year-old Mona Lestrade better known as “Ma Mona ” of the community of Morne Rachette, 105-year-old Andrea Valerie from the second town of Portsmouth, Ann Lavinier of Fond St. Jean who died at the age of 100 and George Tavenier, originally from Scotts Head, who lived to the ripe old age of 103.