About 25 years ago, de Sunday Morning Service at de Salvation Army was about to start. The Lickle Brass Band rendered ah short item, den de Commanding Officer gave his welcome remarks. Before he was quite finished, Sister Primus, de Old Prayer Warrior was already on her feet itching to say de opening prayer, nobody dared to run ‘gainst her, she was de Matriarch of de church who came to worship. So whether is Prayer Meeting, Opening Air Service, morning or night Service, Testimony time whatever, count on Sis P to be first on her feet.
She was always ah bit lengthy wid her prayers, not forgetting to men-shun anybody, especially de grands, nephews and nieces whom she raised from de cradle. She speaks of dem all in glorious terms, so no need to men-shun names lest ah forget one and not de other. Except to say dat she feels rewarded dat at least one of her grands, Major Kervin “Little Christie” Harry is serving de Lord as de Salvation Army Commanding Officer in Suriname.
But dat Sunday was special, as it was her 75 th birthday, so we all looked forward to ‘Testimony time’ to hear her share de past week’s encounter or experience. Dat’s when our First Lady would report on her health, we learned dat morning de sugar and pressure was abnormal, her head was spinning, but she waited until she got under de shower, to deal wid de obstacle, “Satan” whom She straightened out: “ Get behind me Satan! I have news for you dis morning, you will not prevent me from going to serve my God today.” She went and took her two tablets de doctor prescribed. She turned around to de audience and proudly announced: “here I am giving God all de Praise; young people doh mek Satan confuse you,” she said. After dat 75 th Celebration, birthday came after birthday and First Lady kept climbing de ladder till she was in her 90’s. Once ah asked her if she looking forward to meking ah century. She laughed and said “Bro Bas dat is God alone secret!”
Last Tuesday morning, I received an e-mail from Desserine, one of her fair-foh-it (baby) Grand-daughter in de US, reminding me it was “First Lady’s Big Day!” she was 100 years Ole!”and I was invited to celebrate with all at ah Virtual Birthday Party on Zoom; Immediately ah called Sis P on de phone, “ Do you know who is calling?” I asked. “ Certainly! I cant forget your voice, I used to bathe you from ah little baby boy.” She was as sharp and collective like she was at 75, she said to me: “Ah hope ah seeing you later today. Ah long to see you man.”
So what qualifies one to be First Lady in Country, Community or Church? Living what one preaches! Aim foh ah life style of Selfless Service! Let your Light and Works be good! therefore no big job, title or high position is necessary, just simply do everything foh de Lord! Foh de last 60 or more years, Sister Primus chose to live in Paul’s Lot aka De Slum, labelled as one of de most challenged community in Kingstown. She however remained ah beacon in her community. In her Church she was an active member of de League of Mercy Committee visiting de Institutions e.g. Prisons, Hospital, Senior Citizens Home, shut-in at private homes. Failing health actually forced her to discontinue ringing dat Salvation Army Kettle Appeal bell raising funds to feed de poor. Lover of less fortunate children. She has many unofficial adoptions: grands, great-grands, ieces and nephews.
Her Church membership records her as: “de First active Centenarian of de Salvation Army in SVG! Her 75 years serving de Lord in her Organization makes her de longest living member .
Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.