Five wise gogos celebrate being centenarians

Elsie Lipongolo, Ella Dingaan, Angelina Tshikolo and Lilian Mzola cutting their birthday cake with the assistance of social auxiliary worker Siphokazi Tyobeka.
Elsie Lipongolo, Ella Dingaan, Angelina Tshikolo and Lilian Mzola cutting their birthday cake with the assistance of social auxiliary worker Siphokazi Tyobeka.
Image: ZIYANDA ZWENI

It’s not every day someone reaches the age of 100 years and beyond — much less five women from the same township.

Residents of Dimbaza pulled out all the stops on Wednesday to celebrate five centenarians from the community.  

Mindful of the 100-person restriction introduced as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, about 90 elderly men and women gathered at Dimsa hall on Wednesday to celebrate Ella Dingaan, 102, Angelina Tshikolo, 102, Lilian Mzola, 101, and Elsie Lipongolo and Sophie Mehlo, both 100.

Mehlo missed the celebration as her family has a bereavement.

The event was organised by the  Dimbaza Society for the Aged, a service centre where the gogos spend their days learning how to sew, read and keep active.

The women danced and sang as a choir sang Happy Birthday to them.

What keeps the women strong, according to them, is “respect” and their relationship with God.

Speaking shortly after cutting the cake, Mzola said no words could describe how she felt.

“I am very happy. It’s a big thing to be celebrated like this.

“My wish is that everyone is celebrated like us.

“We raised children and grandchildren, and had a tough life, but I am really happy today,” she said.

Tshikolo said: “I am happy. My only problem now is my eyesight.

“God kept me this long. I still walk to church every Sunday.”

Liphongolo still sews clothes at home with her daughter.

“I love chatting with my friends and neighbours when they visit me,” she said.

Dingaan said she prayed for more years to watch her grandchildren grow.

“I cannot go to church any more; it comes to me.

“I am happy that I have reached this milestone.

“It is all God's doing.”

A friend  of the centenarians, Weliswa Simane, 85, said she was looking forward to turning 100 as well.

“These are my friends. We live happily every day here at the centre.

“They are funny and I miss them when I’m not around them,” she said.

“We play soccer together and live in harmony.

“We pray they live longer.

“They are wise and good people.”

Speaking on behalf of the gogos’ children, Noyose Lipongolo, 52, urged children to take care of the elderly.

“Our parents took care of us when we were young.

“It is up to us to take care of them and ensure that they live longer.

“I was still pondering on how I would organise a birthday party for her, but I want to thank the centre for doing this for our parents,” she said.

Centre manager Nosiphiwo Tetyana said they would continue to celebrate those who reached the 100-year  milestone.

“We started this programme in 2018.

“They spend their days here with us and we wanted to celebrate them.

“We feel proud and happy to do this for them while they are still with us.

“This motivates us to take care of them further.

“Taking care of the elderly is a blessing on its own.”


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