Zimbabwe

Granny (110) yearns to live for many more years

At the age of 110, she feels like a teenager and fears death more than anything else.

Day in, day out, she prays that God forgets to take her and let her live forever, but if death eventually visits, she wishes to be reunited with her husband who died in 1953.

She neither remarried nor indulged, sticking to her celibacy oath intact for 70 years now.  “Every day, I pray hard.

The prayer is to have God forget that I exist, so that he does not take me away. I still want to leave, even live forever.

“Inside I feel like a teenager, although the body might no longer be as active,’’ says Gogo Zvirevo Gumbo of Mberengwa.

Born on January 22, 1912, one would think Gogo Gumbo has seen it all, but she wishes to see more.

“At times I feel I am God’s number one priority because my prayers to live longer are being answered. But at times I fear death so much that I wish God would forget that I exist and let me live forever and ever.

So in my confusion I don’t tire, I always kneel to remind the creator that I still need many more years to live and I feel I still have many more ahead of me.

“At times I feel like am just 18-years-old,” said Gogo Gumbo.  Every Sunday she religiously attends the church service.

She is a full member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe.  With memory the only ailment now failing her, Gogo Gumbo checks every day with her caretaker and son, Mr Pambaniso Bhebhe if it is a Sunday.

That is the most important day on Gogo Gumbo’s calendar as she always remembers to wear her church outfit and with the aid of a stick, walks to the church.

“Thus (church) where I get life, I don’t want to die I want life, I love my life and it is at the church where I pray to God for more years,” she said.  For all her life, Gogo Gumbo does not remember being admitted to hospital.

Her secret to longevity is her diet of traditional food and of course, the fervent prayers she piles to God every day.  “I don’t eat everything you eat these days. I have always been very selective and eat mainly traditional foods and my son, (Mr Bhebhe) knows that.

“His wife and himself are now my keepers and they pretty know my type of food I eat. If they cook junk food, I don’t eat,” says Gogo Gumbo.

She says she could still do house chores on her own and every farming season she makes sure that she plants a little bit of rapoko and millet for her staple grain.

“I admit I am now old and no longer have the energy to work like a 30 or 40-year-old, but I make sure I grow a small piece of rapoko and millet, enough to feed me.

“My son and his family are very supportive and help me cultivate and harvest because they know it is my favourite food,” she said.  These days Gogo Gumbo has the problem of sore feet, but the remedy to that problem is somewhat bizarre.  “I now have the problem with my legs, but they don’t take me to the hospital.

When I feel the pain I just tell my keepers to boil some two or three eggs for me. If I eat boiled eggs the pain just vanishes.  “I also love traditional porridge from either rapoko or millet or even sorghum.

I can spend the whole day with porridge only and a bit of water,” she says.  Outside her strict diet, Gogo Gumbo also takes some walks.

When her day to meet the maker finally comes, Gogo Gumbo has one wish, to reunite with her lovely husband, Maloba Gumbo who died back in 1953 under unclear circumstances.

“His death pained me and it was sudden so this is why I still fear death, but my hope is to meet him again in the second life,” she said.  Gogo had 9 children, four surviving. She has 36 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren.

Only one boy, Mr Pambaniso Bhebhe, her caretaker and three girls are still surviving.  In an interview Mr Bhebhe said the clan was blessed to have Gogo Gumbo live for generations.

“She is a blessing and you know people now just visit us to talk to Gogo, everyone is just admiring the blessing of life on her.

“After the death of our father back in 1953 when I was a toddler myself, Gogo never remarried, instead she has sought her solace in church and has never slackened despite her advanced age, she rarely misses Sunday church services and she says she still craves for more years,” he said.

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