Centenarian Jane Graham
Centenarian Jane Graham

When centenarian Jane Graham was born, on 12 June 1920, the First World War had just ended. Dominica had no cars and no radio stations. Life was primitive, life was good, life was uncomplicated.

Two weeks ago Jane celebrated her 100 birthday. She fêted with her relatives, friends, neighbours and government officials at her home in Newtown.

Though Jane can no longer walk, has a hearing problem and suffers from diabetes and hypertension, her relatives know she has had a very good life. Achieving 100 years is no easy feat.

Jane has become Dominica's latest centenarian. In June 2020, there are 25 others, according the Dominica Council on Ageing.

Dominica has had more than its share of centenarians and almost everyone is asking the important question: why?

"It could be the food. Possibly the terrain. Maybe the water. It must be the fresh air," wrote Jose Allison D. Kentish in 2006.

"Perhaps living to a ripe old age is your aim. Then why not leave your medicine chest behind and move to Dominica? This Caribbean island has the highest number of centenarians in the world, and it was from here that the oldest person ever hailed," wrote Mark Porter of the UK's Daily Mail.

He was referring to Ma Pampo of Portsmouth. "Born in 1875, Ma Pampo died in 2003, aged 128. She didn't retire until she was 104. Her next-door neighbour was 118, and at one stage there were four centenarians in the same street", he wrote.

So what happened to the plans to name that street "Ma Pampo Street"?

But the crucial question Dominicans should probably ask is: where are the tourism plans and programmes to market Dominica as the country with the most centenarians per capita in the world— "that's nearly four per 10,000 of population, 50 per cent higher than the next old-age market leader, Japan, and three times as many as in Britain and the U.S.", writes Porter.

To put all of this in perspective, here is the current list of Dominican centenarians.

Ms. Philomene Goodall, Eggleston; August 20th 1915

Mrs. Elizabeth Auguiste Kalinago Territory; 21st March 1914

Ms Anestasie Maggie Charles, Wesley; 26th April 1914

Mr. Oscar Phillip Joseph (aka Popeye), Goodwill; 2nd September 1915

Ms. Andrea Valerie, Portsmouth, 15th December 1915

Mrs. Mionette Gussi Bannis, Paix Bouche; 27th April 1916

Ms. Rennel Adrien, Mahaut; 15th July 1916

Mr. Joseph Richard Charles, Warner; 30th May, 1917

Ms. Angela Cuffy, Bioche; 24th May, 1917

Elma Labad, PHARCS; 17th December 1917

Mrs. Edlyn Lynch Ma Hubort, St. Joseph; 4th January, 1918

Felicite Alexander,Tete Morne; 15th June 1918

Wallis Michel Mathew,Penville; 30th September, 1918

Gwendolyn P. Magloire,Portsmouth; 4th October, 1918

Hesketh Casimir, Goodwill; 30th October, 1918

Anastasie George, Bath Estate; 22nd July 1919

Celina Cecilia Elizabeth Baptiste,Castle Bruce; February 15th, 1920

Macelline Letang, Portsmouth; March 17th 1919

Mc Lawrence Asher Timothy, Marigot; April 28th, 1917

Ms. Antonine Roberts, Rosalie; April 30th 1919

Edith Alexander , Pottersville; May 4th 1919

Ms. Veronica Elsina John Burton, Salybia; June 1st 1919

Jane Graham, Newtown; June 12th 1919

Franzilla Lander, Infirmary; August 4th 1912

Mr. Bradley Tavernier, Goodwill; November 4th 1918

Mr. Daniel Phillip, Grandfond; November 9th 1919

(Source: Dominica Council on Ageing)