Jamaican lady figurine made from earthenware clay near Kingston, Jamaica. She has hand painted facial features on unglazed skin, and is wearing a dress of high gloss ceramic. She is holding a ceramic basket on her hip that is filled with tropical fruits in vivid colors of red, orange and green. She has a ceramic scarf on her head and a small necklace made of colorful beads. Painted on bottom of stand: “Made in Jamaica: Frazer’s Ceramic.” She is designed to depict the culture of Jamaica.
Location: Caribbean Island
Main language: English
Currency: Jamaican Dollar
Construction: ceramic clay
Height in Centimeters: 23
Height in Inches: 9
Reading Level: 7.50
My name is Ms. Voila Green and I live in a small rural community in the mountains of St. Ann, Jamaica. In 1885, Mary, my grandmother, immigrated to Jamaica from Ireland in hopes for a better life. There, she fell in love with a handsome and brave Maroon named Cova Green. My mother raised me with the spirit of my grandparents—bold, brave and beautiful.
I was a good student in school but that is not where I became a great mathematician. The secret of my math success started in the rustling, bustling, hurrying, bartering, screaming, nurturing and scandalizing Jamaican marketplace where women from all over the country pack their bags, donkey’s and busses with the fruits of their labor. You can find almost anything in the Jamaican marketplace ackee, banana, bammy, bread fruit, chocolate balls, cabbage, callaloo, cedar lumber, chocho, coconut, cassava, conch, hard dough bread, Irish moss, jellies, juices, goat, gungo peas, guava, papaya, plantains, potatoes, pumpkin, scotch bonnet peppers, salt fish, sorrel, spices, soursops and sweetsops, thyme, tomatoes, and yam.
The biggest night of the entire year in the marketplace is called Grand Market, which is held throughout the night and into the morning of Christmas Day. Families take children out in their best clothes to enjoy the sights and scents of the best toys and sweets in the universe. It was on this magic night with my grandfather that I discovered that I was a great mathematician.
Grandfather took me to Grand Market to buy wood for the small bookcase, (also called a WhatNot) that he was going to build me for Christmas. We made our way through the crowd until we got to the WoodMan. Grandfather told the WoodMan we needed enough cedar lumber to cut into 5 pieces (12 inches wide by 24 inches long each). We needed to know how many feet of board we would need to buy.
The WoodMan said he had a beautiful piece of wood that was 1 foot wide and 11 feet long. “Would that be OK?” he asked. I began to think about the problem. In my mind, I reasoned that we needed a 24 inch length for each piece, and that was the same as 2 feet for each shelf. Since we needed 5 pieces, that would be a total of 10 feet (2 feet times 5 pieces = 10 feet).
“Yes, I said—11 feet is fine—that even gives us an extra 12 inches.” My grandfather looked at me in shock and said, “You are right. This child is indeed a great mathematician.”
After that Grand Market, I went back to the market many times. I helped the vendors make change; figure out the right amount to charge customers and even helped the WoodMan sell his lumber. Later on, I became a market woman myself selling my garden fruits on Sunday afternoons. During the week, I practice my favorite subject as a math teacher.
Story by Jozan Powell and Joseph Henry