90-year-old Antiguan author credits Bajan experience for entrepreneurial drive

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room


iriam Samuel, a 90-year-old citizen of Antigua and Barbuda who resided in Barbados for five-and-a-half years, has penned a touching memoir recounting her life journey.

Having lived in Barbados from January 1967 to July 1972, she credits the vibrant post-independence culture of the nation for inspiring her vision and courage to embark on an entrepreneurial path.

Regarded as one of Antigua’s esteemed senior entrepreneurs, Miriam Samuel, a retired teacher who taught at nine schools in Antigua and the Modern High School in Barbados, recently celebrated her birthday on Mother’s Day by launching her book, Mirie’s Magic Recipe: Loving, Leading, Legacy.

Alongside her passion for cooking and gardening, she operates an agri-products business named Screw Pine, using ingredients cultivated in her backyard garden. The product line includes over 100 items such as breads, jams, jellies, confectionery, wines, kombucha, soaps, and oils.

In her book, Miriam (also known as Mirie), uses a culinary lens to draw parallels between life and food, imparting wisdom to readers on how to navigate life’s challenges. Each chapter concludes with her favourite recipes that highlight key ingredients for a fulfilling life and leaving a lasting legacy.

In Chapter 2, titled Inspire a Community by Believing in Yourself, the author reflects on the pride and patriotism she encountered upon arriving in Barbados five weeks after its independence in 1966. She and the three children she had at the time – Clement, Derede and Megan – had moved to Barbados where her now deceased husband, Charlesworth Samuel – who later became a politician in Antigua – was studying at the UWI Cave Hill Campus. They first lived in Black Rock, and then moved to St Barnabas/the Pine, St Michael and attended the White Park Wesleyan Holiness Church. Miriam gave birth to a fourth child, Reverend Dr Calvin Samuel, while living in Barbados.

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The Antiguan chronicles her journey of adapting to a new culture, social structure, and lifestyle in Barbados, relying on faith to navigate the challenges of starting afresh in an unfamiliar environment, without close family or friends for support.

She recounts the surge in demand for locally made products and the growth of local enterprises during Barbados’ early independence years. Living through this period of economic expansion and explosion of “Bajan Pride”, she gained personal independence and confidence, sowing the seeds of entrepreneurship.

Miriam shares how her adaptation of Bajan sweet bread to suit her taste led to the creation of a new product that became a popular item she successfully monetised upon her return to Antigua. Over the past 30 years, her repurposed coconut bread has become her most widely sold product and still graces the shelves of many supermarkets in Antigua.

An excerpt from Chapter 2 of the book speaks to the author forging her own path: “Making sweet bread and refining my own recipe taught me a lot about believing in myself. Cultivating self-belief means that you don’t have to follow someone else’s recipe or someone else’s playbook in order to have a successful outcome. You can follow your own path and still have a successful outcome. Indeed, I’d go further to say that by following your own path, you will have a unique sense of accomplishment and self-actualisation, regardless of the outcome.”

At the book launch, Antigua and Barbuda’s Governor General Sir Rodney Williams commended Miriam not only for her extensive career as a teacher but also as an entrepreneur, hailing her story as a beacon of hope and inspiration within the community.

Miriam will donate a copy of her book to the Barbados Public Library, underscoring her desire to contribute positively to the narrative of the nation’s development from the perspective of an immigrant.

Reflecting on her time in Barbados, she acknowledges the profound impact it had on her family’s life and regards it as a pivotal part of her legacy. At the time, the sociopolitical and cultural tra nsition of moving from Antigua, a British colony, to Barbados, a newly independent nation, also influenced her husband’s subsequent entry into politics.

Having maintained strong ties with Barbados over the years, considering it her second home, Miriam remains actively engaged with friends, former neighbours and students, through her Facebook presence (grandma.mirie.2024).

Mirie’s Magic Recipe: Loving, Leading, Legacy is available on Amazon.


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