Mafiri survives generations

McKeed Kotlolo

McKeed Kotlolo

She is one of the oldest living South Africans today and attributes her long life to eating natural and healthy food.

Betty Mokadi Mafiri, born Thobejane, of Uitspanning A in Dennilton, near Groblersdal, Limpopo, cannot remember her date of birth.

A mother of seven, all she remembers is that she was born during the reign of Kgosi Malekutu of Bapedi-Ba-Sekhukhune.

It is difficult to estimate her age because a dynasty of three generations of Malekutu reigned between 1824 and 1905.

Even her third-born daughter, Mpyanyana Thobejane, who uses a walking stick and also has white hair, does not know her own age.

An identity document issued in October 1986 states her birth date as August 8 1914, but the family insists she was born around 1840, which makes her about 167 years old.

This was the time when Kgosi Malekutu 1 died.

There was no school or church when she was growing up.

"We believed in cultural education and medicines for good health. Schooling was introduced long after I was born and there was no time to go to school as we looked after our parents' herds. Christianity, too, came very late," she said.

Mafiri, spends most of her time sleeping since she can longer walk or sit up.

She lost her sight 10 years ago because of old age.

Of her seven children, only two, Mpyanyana and Makgamakgemi, are still alive.

She has 46 grandchildren, 59 great-grandchildren and 13 great-great-grandchildren.

"We ate a lot of wild fruits and vegetables. We made bread and pap from sorghum and with other nutritious stuff."