Charles Edward James, the oldest citizen in Jamaica, passed away on Sunday at his Darliston home at the age of 115. Fondly known as “Maas Tata”, the supercentenarian never got to be officially recognized for his status as one of the world’s oldest living people after reaching the milestone because the documents proving his age could not be verified, local newspaper, The Gleaner, reports.
Speaking to the news outlet, one of Maas Tata’s sons, Fritz James, said the family was a bit disappointed they never got to officially verify their father’s age.
“I can’t understand why they have no record of that. Yes, he is old, but they [the country’s Registrar General’s Department] should have records going back even further than that,” James said, adding that his father – who was supposedly born on February 3, 1905 – usually reminisced about his childhood while he was alive. James said their father even remembered the 1912 Jamaica hurricane that struck the Caribbean island as well as Cuba.
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“He had told me that in the 1912 storm, he was attending school at the St John’s Anglican Church in Darliston. He would be seven years then, so something adds up there,” he revealed.
In 2019, a birth certificate and manifest reportedly belonging to the supercentenarian that his family retrieved from a ship that docked in Jamaica in 1943, reportedly corroborated with his supposed date of birth, according to The Star. There was, however, a reported difference with regards to his age on his marriage certificate which his family said they wanted to rectify with the island nation’s Registrar General’s Department at the time of the report.
“We have a birth certificate with his name and his mother’s name that says he was born in 1905, but we have always had it that he was a little younger than that,” one of his grandsons told the news outlet at the time.
Though Maas Tata fell short of being officially recognized, fellow female compatriot, Violet Brown briefly held the title for the oldest, officially verified living person in the world after the death of previous Italian holder, Emma Morano, in April 2017. Brown held the title for a period of five months until her death in Montego Bay the same year.
Maas Tata also passed a year short of Fredie Blom. The South African passed away in August at the age of 116. Blom was also believed to be the world’s oldest man. His “record” is, however, dubbed “unofficial” in certain media outlets. There are no documents to back up Blom’s birth in 1904 but this is not uncommon for Africans of that time.