Editorial

Jamaica’s supercentenarian shows age is more than just a number

Thursday, April 20, 2017    

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Supercentenarian Mrs Violet Mosse-Brown has joined the pantheon of elite Jamaican stars who have brought positive international attention to their homeland, albeit for outliving all other human beings now on the planet at 117 years old.

It continues to boggle the mind that from such a tiny economically challenged island, a mere speck on the globe, and a population which could fit almost three times in New York City, USA, comes such a great crowd of individuals and unique products that lead the world.

There is no logic that says Jamaica should be producing the world’s fastest and most decorated male and female athletes; or the best coffee, ginger and pimento; or at one time the largest producer of bauxite and the easiest to be mined because of proximity to the surface.

Or even that from her shores should come the music that produced the Third World’s first megastar in Mr Bob Marley who gave the world the song of the century — One Love; or the first non-American to win the Scripps Howard Spelling Bee and


NBC’s The Voice; or three of the most beautiful women in Miss World 1963, 1976, and 1993. Moreover, what explains Kingston having the world’s seventh largest natural harbour or a Jamaican hotel being named over and over the world’s best all-inclusive resort in Sandals.

Mrs Violet Mosse-Brown, born March 1900, is not only the world’s oldest citizen following the death of Italy’s Ms Emma Morano, she is the sixth longest living human being and the first supercentenarian from the Third World. One can be forgiven for wondering aloud how a Jamaican could overcome the gritty rural life of a Trelawny-born woman to attain such a phenomenal age.

We hope that not only has she brought positive international publicity to Jamaica as the news of her achievement flashed across the world, but that our awareness of her would spur us to appreciate the aged and keep the needs of our 340,000 senior citizens on top of the social agenda.

It is appropriate to commend the 40-year-old National Council for Senior Citizens for its effective advocacy in the establishment of the Jamaica Drug for the Elderly Programme and concessionary fares for seniors who travel on Jamaica Urban Transit Company buses.

Let us be ready to speak out against the abuse of our elders and renew our respect for the aged that was a hallmark of Jamaican life not too long ago before we were overtaken by uncouth, uncaring behaviour towards them.

We do well to remind ourselves as a society that elderly persons are not to be seen as a burden. Many of them have the institutional knowledge of large numbers of companies and organisations that will be lost forever if we don’t find a way to preserve them. Many senior citizens can continue to contribute to national development, through voluntary work in key areas of Jamaican life.

Finally, we hope that everything will be done to treat Mrs Mosse-Brown as a national treasure and to create the conditions in which she can live as long as possible, perhaps to surpass the 122 years achieved by France’s Ms Jeanne Calment who died in 1997.

Surely we have seen now that age is far more than just a number.

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