100 not out for Nyanga’s Gaba

The centenarian with his children and some of his grandchildren.

Waking up early, taking long walks and living a healthy life, not drinking or smoking, is Steven Kose’s secret to longevity.

Mr Kose celebrated his 100th birthday with a small party over the weekend at his home in Zwelitsha, Nyanga.

He was born on February 12, 1923 in Cathcart in the Eastern Cape. He is grateful to be alive and is still going strong.

While many people far younger complain of aches and pains, including some of his children, the centenarian takes early morning walks as far as he can and sometimes visits his child 5km away.

On Sunday, flanked by his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and a few friends, Mr Kose revealed how he has maintained a healthy lifestyle over the years by eating properly and not smoking and drinking alcohol all his life.

“The secret to a long life is living a good life. I have always remained active. I am a plaasjapie so I used to wake early. I grew up on a farm so we used to milk the cows early in the morning. Remember in our days the boers were very strict and probably cruel because they used to assault us if we were late for anything,” he remembered.

Sitting next to his first born, Bukelwa Mjumba, who is 73 years now, he was all smiles when she told us about him. Dressed in a jacket, shirt and formal trousers, looking ready for the celebration, he only now and then interjected the conversation. The smile was wider as he remembered his fight with a farm owner. “Once the boer says vraastag you know the sjambok is coming. But I used to fight back. The boers had all the rights on us back then. We were boys so we used to visit other farms on Sunday to play stick fighting games. We would come late and be in trouble,” he said with a wide smile.

However, he survived all that, including apartheid and all its discriminatory laws. He believes he has lived a long and healthy life by not only being active but disciplined and respectful. “Discipline and respect is everything. That is how I brought my children to respect and be disciplined. I am this old today because of that. I do not take any tablets for high blood pressure or diabetes simply because I eat healthy too. Food like porridge and samp and mielies are my favourites. But I also now and then take your yoghurts and some instant porridge in the morning,” he said.

He has six children, five daughters and a boy, 18 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

Ms Mjamba said her father didn’t take nonsense. She said they celebrated the 100 years to thank her father and the most high for keeping her dad.

She said he used to be “too strict” especially when dealing with son, Mthetho Kose, who is 59 now. However, they understood as adults why he disciplined them.

Her words were echoed by Mthetho, who said had it not been for his father he would not have been the person he is today. “We thought of having just a small event for him. Finishing a century is no child’s play. My father has no sicknesses like high blood pressure and diabetes whereas I am on treatment for high blood pressure. That is amazing. But I think it is because of who he is. He still walks long distances and eats healthy,” he said.

On being on the receiving end of his father’s stick, he said: “Yoh, I used to be in trouble. But I must say that made me the man I am today. I once spoke about it with him. I sat him down and thanked him for showing me the right way in life. He taught us all well. That is why we love him. We also thank the Almighty for his life.”

His six children, Bukelwa Mjamba, Mthetho Kose, Vuyiswa Kose, Thandeka Kose, Zukiswa Mlanjana and Phumla Kose said they are grateful to their father, Gaba, Nozinga, Mntuwomlambo (clan name).

The centenarian is happy to be alive.
Steven Kose still enjoys the company of all his six children. At the back are Phumla, Vuyiswa, Thandeka Kose and Zukiswa Mlanjana. In front flanking him is his only son Mthetho Kose with Bukelwa Mjamba.