HomeLocal News100 years old by the grace of God

100 years old by the grace of God


With Zimbabwes life expectancy estimated at below 50, how many of us will live to be 100 years old? We will always ask ourselves what it takes to be 100 years old.

Is it the type of life we live that enables us to be a century old on this earth?

Gogo Harunatsike Kaguna from Chiweshe Village near St Alberts Mission has a simple answer to explain what makes people live to be 100 years.

It is by the grace of God and nothing else. It is not the type of food you take nor is it the type of life you live that makes you alive for a 100 years, it is Gods will, she said.

Gogo Kaguna, who has lived to be 100 herself, knows what she is talking about.

God made me as old as I am, she said in an interview at a belated ceremony to mark her 100th birthday last Saturday at the Salvation Army church in Mvurwi.

In fact, I am more than hundred years old. When we were born nobody recorded our dates of birth. It was much later when the whites came that we were given identity papers with estimated dates of birth. The whites came to our village when I was a little girl that size, she said pointing to her eight-year-old great-great-grandchild.

Officially, they say I was born on June 3 1912, but it was just an estimate, she said showing me her metal identity card strapped around her neck. Her children and grandchildren agreed that she is above hundred.

Her first child, the late Benrose Murasikwa Dematsanga, was born on 19 July 1928.

The centenarian bore a total of 10 children, who in turn blessed her with 36 grandchildren, 56 great-grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren.

All in all I had 10 children, two boys and eight girls. My two girls, Miriam Mushore and Chipo Masiyachengo are the only surviving children.

When she talked about her children, the old lady started sobbing before her grandchildren cooled her down so that she could continue with what is evidently the bitterest part of her life.

The younger of my two sons, Seretsa Jeffrey Dematsanga joined the liberation struggle and he was killed in 1972. I remember clearly to this day when he and other comrades who were killed were hung from a helicopter and taken around the villages for all to see. They were paraded like dogs from Dande, Mt Darwin to Chiweshe, the old woman said amid sobs.

What makes me bitter is that we got no compensation for the deaths of our sons. When we tried to get compensation, we were told that only those who were physically vetted were to be compensated yet my sons contribution and subsequent death at the hands of the (Ian) Smiths regime are well known.

They are now rewarding the living and their relatives yet we get nothing for the sacrifices of our sons, she said amid sobs.

Gogo Kaguna has memories of the lifestyle they led when she was a young girl up to the time she was married.

We used to travel long distances on foot because there were no buses. I remember when my husband got employment at 13 miles near Harare.

We would travel on foot from Chiweshe village near St Alberts Mission (more than 200km). We would carry maize meal to prepare sadza on the way. We would put up in the bush or sometimes we were taken in by well-wishers, she said.

We wore tanned hides for clothes. My father was an expert at tanning hides. With a toothless smile, she continued: Its different from today really. We would move around bare-breasted as young girls and young women. Our diet was never short of meat because our fathers were expert hunters and game meat was plenty. We used to eat a lot of elephant meat.

Spiwe Mapfumo, her 52-year-old granddaughter (the eldest grandchild), who now stays with her chipped in: Gogo does not like meat from domestic animals at all. She says it is tasteless. It is useless to slaughter a goat or a chicken for her, she just perks at the meat and leaves it. She likes eggs, milk and beans though.

Spiwe said although she was old, Gogo Kaguna was a smart and active granny.

She is very particular about cleanliness. Although we tell her not to bother about household chores, she insists on doing dishes and laundry especially when she is aware of my absence, Spiwe said.
But Gogo is a happy old woman.

I am happy with my two surviving children and the many grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. I had gone blind with age and my grandchildren facilitated that I was operated on.

Now I can see again. I feel relaxed and they make me happy. As you can see they have organised this event for me, I love them all, she said, although she cannot recognise most of them.

When the interview ended, she got up and joined church members, friends and relatives to sing and dance along to a religious chorus as if to prove that to her age is just a number.

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