Regional

'The people have no God in them'

104-y-o wants to live longer, but says crime has taken country to a new low

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Observer staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, May 15, 2017

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ST Ann native Salamon Higgins is among the nearly half a million centenarians living across the globe, but he wants to distinguish himself as a super-centenarian. Projections from the United Nations suggest that by 2050 there will be 3.7 million centenarians worldwide, and Higgins is hoping to still be a part of that group.

“If I could live another 100 years I would be happier than I am now. I want 100 more years,” the oldster, who is 104 years old, told the Jamaica Observer North & East at his home in Epworth last Tuesday. He gave his date of birth as December 24, 1912.

With a grin, legs crossed and a walking stick in hand, the centenarian said life, despite its many challenges, is “sweet”. And although his colleagues and companion have passed, the elderly man said he relies on memory to get by.

“When mi a young boy and things like fair deh 'bout mi enjoy miself man. We catch the young gyal dem and wheel dem 'bout and have a nice time. Mi memory nuh suh fluent to remember the songs, but I used to wheel dem,” he recalled before bursting into laughter.

His only problem, he said, is a recurring pain in his stomach. However, he said he has been able to endure it.

“I eat everything that is edible, but if you want long life the Bible tell you to honour your father and mother that your days maybe long. Number two is that you shouldn't smoke and stay away from alcoholic spirit,” the man who is affectionately called “Sala” advised.

The father of five, who is taken care of by his only daughter Clarine, shared that he spent the majority of his life doing carpentry. At age 31, he spent six months in the United States on the farm work programme, but opted to return home due to the climate there.

“In 1943 when they were taking farmers to the United States and I went there, when the coldest of time came on they said that they would move us to Florida, but some of us said, 'No, we will go home and when the warm time comes we will go back up',” he said.

That time, however, would miss Higgins. He became ill and had to pass up on the opportunity.

He would continue to work and provide for his children in the community he described as a “God-blessed district”.

Higgins said in earlier years there was “pure peace” in Epworth.

“The people dem live so nice. Yuh couldn't tell dem 'bout courthouse. Dem naah do nothing bad to go courthouse, but today, Lord have mercy. It's not so bad, but dem have court now,” he said.

The elder mentioned that despite his desire to live longer, he must admit that Jamaica has changed “for the worse”.

“From I born conditions never bad as how it is bad today. …When I was a child ,if I hear that somebody died in Westmoreland I catch mi 'fraid, but now a man just come up to you take out him gun and shoot you. Jamaica never gone through a state it is going through now,” the man said.

He added: “The heap of murder that is happening — oh gracious me, the people have no God in them. They know no God at all man.

“When we were in school there was a special day where you had nothing but Bible lessons. In this present age that is not going on again. The children are going to school with guns and knives. Old time days school and present day school are two different. Every child in my days had to carry Bible to school; you not finding that again. The world gone but God is coming for it shortly; just be ready.”

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