40 years as a vendor - The Lola Johnson story

September 12, 2018
Lola Johnson

It appears Shaggy may have been reflecting on Lola Johnson's journey when he penned his hit, 'Strength of a Woman'. This small business operator have been working since she was 15 years old.

"Over 40 years non-stop, apart from when mi guh have mi children them," said the mother of two.

Johnson, who sells ground provisions in Mandeville, said she has been on the job every single day from as early as 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, and up to 8 p.m. on weekends.

Born and raised in a humble family, Johnson is the third of eight children for Florence Swaby, who was also a vendor.

"It was eight of us she had without any help, so we had to do something," she said.

Johnson said that one of the decisions she made was to ensure that her children were well educated.

"Because mi never get much, mi seh no, mi can't mek them nuh get enough. Suh mi work myself out to mek them get it," she said.

"Mi see the value of education, suh mi seh mi have to help them."




Johnson said that her job as a vendor has not been an easy one. There have been numerous occasions when she arrived in the market to sell her goods, only to realise that her place has been broken into by thieves. Many persons would have given up, but not Johnson.

"Them steal it, man, and mi haffi guh back pan mi foot again. Sometimes mi come here and a nuff something dem tek weh from mi enuh, and mi just forget it. Mi just put all of them behind mi and continue, cause some people woulda give up, but mi just continue."

Johnson received an award for her substantial years of service in October 2014 from the then Manchester Parish Council.

"In the end, I don't regret it because I was able to send my two girls to school, build my little cottage and live my life very comfortable, especially now. It is something that I love," she said.

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