Canditar Chapanduka, Chronicle Reporter
ACCORDING to the World Economic Forum and Statista, a German company specialising in market and consumer data, the oldest people in the world are women with French-born Lucile Randon being the eldest at 118, making her three years older than Zimbabwe’s oldest person (arguably), Betilina Zhou Chakarisa who claims to be 115 years old.
Gogo Chakarisa, from Bulawayo’s North End suburb, had six children and 25 grandchildren.
Three of her children and six grandchildren have passed on. She now lives with her second-born, Kudzai Susan Mupemeri who is 84 years old.
While Randon, also known as Sister André (she’s a nun), calls the title of being the world’s oldest person on record a “sad honour” and wishes to die, Gogo Chakarisa, a congregant at the Lutheran Church in North End, told Saturday Chronicle that she is happy to be alive and relieved that she doesn’t have diseases associated with old age such as cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes.
“I also thank the traditional foods that I ate to this age like locusts that I used to go and catch and cook for my family,” she said.
Most of her family members suffer from diabetes but rebuking the disease through prayers and eating healthy foods has seen Gogo Chakarisa evade the chronic health condition.
“My mother died when she gave birth to me so I don’t know how it feels to have a mother’s love. However, it pleases me that I brought up my children well and took good care of them and now they are returning double the portion.
My husband died in 1960 and my children have been my pillar of strength in difficult times and currently in old age.
“Without him, this would have not been possible as my whole life is led by Him whom I worship day and night. I also thank God for the children that He gave me who have showered me with love and care during my days of old age,” said Gogo Chakarisa.
After losing her husband, Gogo Chakarisa turned to farming to fend for her family.
Kudzai said no words could explain her mother’s impact on their family.
“My mother was a hard worker who became an inspiration to our lives to do good. As we were growing up without a father, she was everything as she was able-bodied, she went her way and was always on her feet, farming tonnes of maize and peanuts to provide for us. So, I grew up appreciating the works and efforts that our mother made for us,” said Kudzai.
Gogo Chakarisa is a prayer warrior and she constantly reminds her children and grandchildren to pray without ceasing and at times she is the one who leads the prayer sessions for the family.
“She still sings Lutheran church songs that glorify the Almighty and shares Bible scriptures,” she said revealing that Gogo Chakarisa no longer attends church due to old age.
Gogo Chakarisa no longer has an appetite for solid foods, she now prefers soft foods and liquids such as juice, yoghurt and blended fruits.
“Sadly, her other son who was 80 years old died last month and she could not attend the funeral because the son stayed in Mberengwa so gogo was not going to afford to travel because of the rough roads,” said Kudzai.
Gogo Chakarisa keeps in touch with her other two children who live in Mberengwa as she believes that family is the most important thing in the world.
“This shows how she has kept the family going and united in the absence of our father and she managed to bring us close to the Lord. I’m glad that I have managed to give back the love to her that has kept her till today,” said Kudzai.
“Thanks to the Almighty one more time for granting us mother love at our ages because she enjoys seeing us around. If she stays for hours without seeing you passing by, she will call you and ask where you are hiding.
“I encourage other people who have grown parents not to neglect them and push them to nursing homes because parents are essential in our lives. They suffered with us when we were growing up without thinking of taking us to children’s homes, therefore, we must give back that love and honour.
“At old people’s homes they won’t entertain their moods at a certain time and their memory needs to keep being refreshed on who their family members are as well as their children so it’s important to take care of our elderly till their last hour on earth.
“It might be challenging to look after them in terms of feeding and attention when they need to stand up or visit the bathroom, but love is essential,” she said. — @NomqheleC
Article Source: The Chronicle