At 117 years of age, Violet Brown is believed to have become the world’s oldest living person following the death of Emma Morano of Italy on Saturday.
“This is what God has given me, so I have to take it – long life,” Ms Brown said in an interview in her home in the town of Duanvale in western Jamaica.
Ms Brown said she has spent much of her life cutting sugarcane in the fields around her home – she attended church regularly, avoids pork and chicken and celebrated her 117th birthday last month.
Documents state that Ms Brown was born on March 10, 1900.
According to Robert Young, the director of the supercentenarian research and database division at Gerontology Research Group, a network of volunteer researchers into the world’s oldest people, Ms Brown is considered to be the oldest person in the world with credible birth documentation.
Ms Brown has not yet been declared the world’s oldest by Guinness World Records — considered to be the official arbiter of the oldest person title — but Guinness depends heavily on Mr Young’s database.
Mr Young said he has met Ms Brown and examined her birth certificate, which was issued by the British authorities who governed Jamaica at the time of her birth.
“She’s the oldest person that we have sufficient documentation for at this time,” Mr Young said.
Jamaica’s Prime Minister congratulated Ms Brown on Twitter, but Guinness said it was still researching a number of candidates to confirm the new world’s oldest person title, adding that the process was sometimes unusually complex due to poor records.
“The world’s oldest human is Jamaican Violet Brown, who was born on March 10, 1900. Congrats Violet,” he wrote.
Ms Brown has two caregivers and spends most of the day resting in the home she shares with her 97-year-old son.
She is able to sit up by herself and walk short distances, and while she is hard of hearing, she offered swift, complete responses to questions about her life and family.
The secret to long life is hard work, she said.
“I was a cane farmer. I would do every work myself. I worked, me and my husband, over that hill,” she said.
She also credited her Christian faith for her long life.
“I’ve done nearly everything at the church. I spent all my time in the church. I like to sing. I spent all my time in the church from a child to right up [to today].”