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By Todani Nodoba | Mar 25, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

ELSIE Nosayini Mninzi from Khayelitsha in Cape Town has lived a century to tell the tale of World War 1, World War 2 and the first black president of South Africa.

Mninzi, who celebrated her 100th birthday last month, credits her long life, good eyesight and hearing to eating a lot of boiled spinach, carrots, potatoes and cabbage.

Born in 1910 to farmworker parents in the Northern Cape's Colesburg, Mninzi grew up with 13 siblings - five brothers and nine sisters. Only one of her brothers is still alive.

Mninzi never got the chance to go to school. She told Sowetan how she lived on a white farm where she had to work with her mother from a very early age.

"We were forced to call young white children 'klein baas'. The white people used to beat even our husbands on the farms with a sjambok, sometimes even taking off their clothes," she said.

Mninzi had her first child in 1935 when she was 25 years old, and went on to give birth 11 more times. She now has 25 grandchildren and 23 great grandchildren.

Because of her advanced age, Mninzi does not refer to specific years when she talks but uses landmarks in time.

She told us that she lived at the time of old boer general Hertzog, before cars, when people used donkeys, carts and spent a lot of time walking.

Clad in an apron worn over her dress, as was the fashion in the early 20th century, Mninzi still wakes up at 6am every day, dresses and goes to sweep the yard.

"She cooks, and bakes bread and fatcakes," her granddaughter said.

The healthy Mninzi is very careful about what she eats. She does not like fizzy drinks or junk food, preferring to eat pap.

And she never fries her vegetables. The only meat that she eats is mutton, and then only one piece at a time.

Used to walking long distances on the farm during the apartheid era, Mninzi rarely travels by taxi but walks to church and to the clinic regularly.


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