This International Women’s Day and Beyond, Be Inspired by Jamaica’s First Female Prime MinisterMar 07, 2022 12:00PM ● By Candice Stewart
Jamaicans know her as the political leader who took the reigns of the People’s National Party (PNP) as the movement’s president for the period of 2006-2017. Many know her as ‘Sister P’ or ‘Mama P’, and some know her by her full name, Portia Lucretia Simpson Miller. However, the standout factor is that Mrs. Simpson Miller was Jamaica’s first female Prime Minister.
This formidable woman has been honored in the form of Portia Dreams, the authorized and approved biography on her childhood and pre-teen years, which appears in the form of a children’s book. Authored by Professor Opal Adisa, former Director of the Institute of Gender and Development Studies at the UWI, the 56-page book holds 12 chapters, highlights the former prime minister’s major achievements, a discussion segment about the story, and a section for children to lay the blueprint for their own future after (hopefully) being inspired by Jamaica’s first female prime minister. It also boasts illustrations (done by Wayne Powell) fit for children at the primary school level to engage while learning about the early life of Mrs. Simpson Miller.
The tenth chapter of the book starts with, "Mama Min encouraged her children to dream. "Dreams are the trees you grow to shelter under when it rains,". The chapter continues with highlights of some of the dreams that young Portia had. One of those dreams was her favorite - she dreamed that she was in a field surrounded by hibiscus and people clapped for her and shouted her name. Perhaps that was one of many examples where she began manifesting her success as a political leader loved by many. The chapter ends with Portia pledging to, "always keep good company and help others."
Professor Adisa shares that the book is “history, heritage, inspiration, and storytelling combined”.
The book highlights the humble beginnings of Mrs. Simpson Miller who hails from the rural community of Woodhall in the parish of St. Catherine. It is her origin that made the former prime minister a relatable figure in politics for many Jamaicans.
Professor Adisa adds that these origins emphasize “that it does not matter the circumstances from which you come, you can achieve your dream.” That is where the inspiration from the book comes from.
Providing further insight into the contents of the book, Professor Adisa states that, “the signs of Mrs. Simpson Miller’s formidable political and public life may well have come from those early years as the young Portia was not only a dreamer, but as an early teenager began taking notes at community meetings held at her parents’ home as well as going to political meets with them”.
Additionally, on her blog, Professor Adisa shares the following: “Portia Simpson Miller is from a working-class family in the rural area of St Catherine, but she decided very early that she wanted to contribute to change, and supported by both her mother and father, she became a change-maker.”
For her part, Mrs. Simpson Miller says, “As a young girl, I had many dreams, some of which served to encourage and inspire me along the way. I hope that as you read this account of my dreams and childhood experiences, it will inspire you to dream big and to strive to achieve your dreams. Always remember, whatever we Jamaicans put our minds to, we can achieve. It is the ‘I CAN’ in every Jamaican,” in a brief message to children who will read her book.
Contact the Portia Simpson Miller (PSM) Foundation Book Project Coordinator, Lincoln Robinson via email at [email protected] for information on how to purchase the book.
Portia dreams: a book on Mama P’s childhood years – The Jamaica Gleaner
‘Portia Dreams’ written by: Professor Opal Palmer Adisa and illustrated by Wayne Powell
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