The Lukhanyo Senior Citizens Club, which has been around for 20 years, recently held a celebration of the lives of their five members who turned 90.
The energetic seniors, led by Nosango Ntshoza were determined to show the community that they too could have fun and enjoy themselves. To mark the occasion, they put on their best attire and pushed their struggles to the back of their minds, enjoying being showered with love and presents as the red carpet was rolled out for them.
Sharon Manata, the councillor for Ward 41, which includes Gugulethu, also presented the five 90-year-olds with cakes with their pictures on them, as well as blankets to warm them this winter.
Club chair, Ms Ntshoza, said the aim of the celebration was to make the seniors feel special, adding that it was important to keep senior citizens involved in activities to keep them active and to ensure that they felt valued in their communities.
“These are encyclopaedias to us. They have information that we do not have. We need to preserve them, love and care for them. Every (moment) with them, it is an important (moment). They live with grandchildren and some alone so no one cares about their birthday but at this club we do care. Ninety is a big number that we believe most of us will not reach,” she said.
She said while they had catered for five seniors, they were saddened to learn that one was sickly in bed on the day of the event and another one had had a family engagement so they could not attend. “We would have loved all of them to be here. We woke up with the problem that they two won’t be with us on this special day,” she added.
Ms Ntshoza added that one of the severest impacts of the coronavirus pandemic had been the separation of seniors from each other.
Previously, she said, they had seen each other three times a week when they had lunch together. “We cook three times a week. We have an obligation to feed them. We believe that they should at least have breakfast and a proper meal,” she said.
Ms Ntshoza said that club members sometimes take day trips outside of the area, play sport and go hiking to keep the elderly entertained.
An emotional Ms Manata said it was a blessing to have seniors who were over the age of 90, still walking on their own.
In many households, she said, elderly women were the primary caregivers of their grandchildren, because of many challenges experienced particularly in black communities.
“When we talk of seniors, I get emotional because these are our treasures. I lost my mom recently. That alone makes me very emotional because I love mothers.
“But I am here for these and feel blessed. I hope the almighty can take them until over 100,” she said.
Talking to Vukani, seniors marking their birthdays shared the sorrow of losing all those who were close to them, the fear of being alone and a disbelief at having been around for so many years.
Nomaneji Sofika, 90, said God had forgotten her ticket to heaven. She jokingly said all her friends and most former members of the club had passed on but she lived on.
“I think God has really forgotten me. After this celebration He can call my ticket, I will gladly accept it. But I am happy for this gesture by Ms Ntshoza and other members of the club. This means a lot to us.”
Nosesi Dasi said the secret to reaching 90 years was to not eat everything. “I have never eaten eggs. Our parents taught us well. We never had rice and other things that today’s youth eat. For young people to reach this age they need to respect their parents, watch what they are eating and love their families,” she said.
Pulane Monakale, 90, said she would cherish the day for as long as she was alive and thanked the organisers on behalf of those whose birthdays had been celebrated.