Francis Felix

107 years - Paramin

Known locally as "Attiman" this iconic figure of Paramin lives modestly in a two room wooden hut sheltered by sheets of galvanize and lit by a single incandescent bulb. Part of his family lives in the more modern dwelling below. His great grandfather came from Africa "on de boat". Attiman fathered fifteen children, the first at age 15, which makes his eldest daughter 92.

As a child, he would sit on his grandfather's lap and watch him smoke his pipe, "Ti [petit] Garçon" is how his grandfather would refer to him as he sent him for a light. His grandmother's house is still at the corner of Attiman's street. Discipline was important in Attiman's day, "you cah go up de road without consent, if you go up so den dong so when you come back they [parents] beatin you…if they send me for something [at the shop] and you refuse, they beatin you."

Attiman worked for 40c a day to dig the road we now all use to get to Paramin. He didn't care for school or the English he learned there. He left school and purchased a cutlass for 10c. He used this tool to clear land for planting his crops. Attiman also says he helped carry the material for the school at Fatima in Paramin.

Men in his day were master craftsmen who built houses (some still standing) without metal nails, instead they cut wedges in the wood that you then pulled together and fastened with Poui nails. Teams of men would trek and camp deep into the forest to fell the right tree. Positioning the trunk they would then use two-man saws to cut into planks for transport (on foot) back to the village; no wonder Attiman’s claim, "is de village build a house." In Attiman’s day land ownership came with very little restrictions, "everybody get a piece of land…this is your spot…you born, you stay until you dead, now you have to get a piece of paper…paper is law." The system of laws and governance that we all live under today still perplexes Attiman. Where he is from, the community decides the law with what seems to be a common understanding that everyone looks out for one another. Everyone knows Attiman - and he knows not to answer to anyone not calling for him in patois - sitting ever so quietly in his two room palace on the mountain top.