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‘People around me have been dying. When will I die?’ – 128-year-old South African woman

Due to her advanced age, Mazibuko does not remember much of her childhood. What she remembers, though, is the time when there was an infestation of locusts on the farms.

She, however, says not all of it was disruptive to the maize crops.

“There were ones we could catch and eat. It was like you are eating meat. We would just fry them and eat them like that, just on their own.”

During her interview with News24, Mazibuko was sipping on her favorite “modern” drink – Coca Cola – but said she grew up on a totally different diet, which was devoid of soft drinks and fast food.

Growing up, she said, her diet consisted of fresh milk and wild spinach.

“Now, I eat modern food. I am used to it, but I do miss the food I grew up on.”

On Wednesday, one of South Africa’s oldest people – Johanna Mazibuko – will be celebrating her 128th birthday.

Mazibuko lives in Jouberton in Klerksdorp, North West, and was born on a maize farm in the Ottosdal area.

She was the first of 12 children; only three are still alive.

Though she managed to reach the advanced age of 128, Mazibuko and her siblings never learned to read or write due to the fact that they were born on farms and never got an opportunity to get an education.

“I was born on a farm. We lived so well on the farms. There were no problems.”

Marriage and children

She doesn’t know at what age or year she got married, but knows she got married to an elderly widower, Stawana Mazibuko.

“I was married to an older man. His first wife had died. He was an independent man. He had a horse carriage and cows. I would milk the cows and make butter to sell. That man treated me very well and made me forget about my life before him. I did not want for anything.”

“At that time, when you left the farms for the townships, you had to bring a permit to show that you are from there. I came with my son and lived here.”

Her sister, Elisa Baaitsane Wesinyana, 75, says that, when she was born, Mazibuko was already married.

Mazibuko says an event she will never forget is voting in the first democratic elections in 1994.

“Mandela was my person. He allowed us to control ourselves. He got us houses and made the government give us pensions.”

‘My body is stiff

For someone her age, Mazibuko is still very strong.

She has her eyesight, but is a bit hard of hearing and also uses a walker to get around the house. Her only complaint, she says, is that her body is stiff.

“My body is stiff. When I walk, I walk like a child. When people are walking up and down the streets, I just watch through my window and wish I could be like them. When MmaLerato is not around, I am able to go to the bathroom alone. I am able to bath… she always tells me she doesn’t want me to smell.”

Why am I still here?’

To celebrate Mazibuko’s birthday, the Matlosana municipality is arranging a party.

The mayor, James Tsolela, said last year they bought Mazibuko a bed. This year, they are getting her a sofa.

“We have been checking and doing research to see who is the oldest. We can’t find anyone her age. We do have her ID saying that. We have to try and put her in the book Guinness Book of Records, so she can be properly honored.”

The person dubbed the world’s oldest by Guinness, Kane Tanaka of Japan, 116, died this year.

Mazibuko says she doesn’t know why she has lived a long life.

She added:

I am amazed at why I am still here after so many years. Why am I still here? People around me have been dying. When will I die? What’s the point of being alive? The world has tired me because I am just sitting here doing nothing.

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