Family throws party as gogo turns 100

Sophy Naskhafana Jiyana's family threw her a big bash to celebrate her 100th birthday.
Sophy Naskhafana Jiyana's family threw her a big bash to celebrate her 100th birthday.
Image: supplied

Sophy Naskhafana Jiyana is not your average elderly woman next door.

She was three months old when the First World War, or the Great War, ended in November 1918, and she is still going strong.

At 100 years of age, Jiyana has sharp eyesight and hearing, walks without assistance and still makes her grass mats and beadwork.

She is not only a wonder to her family and the community of Kameelrivier in the former KwaNdebele homeland in Mpumalanga, but also a source of knowledge and wisdom.

The mother of 10, grandmother of 42 and great-grandmother of 22 says she has no idea why she had such longevity, thanking God for it.

"We were raised well; we ate well and there was a lot of working in the fields and household chores, so there was lots of exercise.

"We ate wild fruits and vegetables," Jiyana said.

Looking colourful and dazzling in her traditional Ndebele attire, she sat on a chair hoisted on a pedestal in a decorated marquee as her family and community threw a huge party celebrating her milestone at the weekend.

Jiyana, who was born in Middleburg, Mpumalanga, on August 22 1918, said she enjoyed telling stories to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren as it kept her mind sharp.

"I spend most of my time with them. They do everything for me and they also organised this party for me," she said. Jiyana confessed that she loved sweets and meat, though she has not a single tooth left.

She laughed deeply when Sowetan asked her how she chewed the meat. "I chew it with my gums. I have had no teeth for so long that the gums have hardened and they cook it long so that it is soft."

Her great-grandchild, Mpho, 30, said Jiyana was the family's heritage and knew everything that has to do with family history, traditions and customs.

"She also has a great sense of humour and will use the funniest way to tell you when you are out of order and when she wants to drive [home] a message. She has a permanent smile and a good heart. We are indeed lucky," Mpho said.