Namibian Martha Afrikaner: One Of Oldest In The World

07 Oct 2015 11:10am


Hidden away on a quiet farm 50 kilometres (km) west of Gibeon lives a lady who is possibly the oldest in Namibia, and certainly one of the oldest in the world. Martha Afrikaner turned an incredible 110 years on 27 September 2015.

Wanting to mark the significant event, her children and grandchildren decided to host a thanksgiving reunion in honour of their matriarch at the farm where Afrikaner lives. Over 200 family members and friends congregated at the farm on Saturday to celebrate the big event.

Lintina Isaak, 54, Afrikaner's granddaughter and caretaker said when they told 'Ouma' (grandmother) of the plans for the party, she responded as she always does: "As long as there is peace and love, then it is fine."

Later during the interview, when asked how the party was, Ouma responded: "It was as it was; as you see, I'm lying here."

So clearly, the old lady is not all peachy - she is certainly very witty and her children say she can be extremely difficult. Ouma had 10 children, but six have passed away over the years. The remaining four are Elizabeth Claasen, 83; Dawid Afrikaner, 82; Petrina Swartz, 77; and Josefina Afrikaner, 76. Her husband Hendrik died in 1983. Her siblings, a brother and a sister, also died years ago.

Elizabeth said her mother has always been very strict with the children and was always a very strong person. "She drove a car and even changed tyres," Elizabeth, who also appears many years younger than her actual age, related.

Ouma, who has lived on farms all her life, said she used to herd her cows and small livestock all by herself and lived on 'God's food' - edible natural plant-based food obtained from the veld. The lady is also very religious, with Lintina saying Ouma believes in two things: "Respect for others and the Ten Commandments."

Lintina says she is grateful her grandmother is not a sickly person. "I had to take her to the clinic once and she hated it, she fought with me that day. I am so glad she is not on any medication so we don't have to visit hospitals."

She said the only problem Ouma suffers from is pain in her bones and thin skin that bruises easily. For the last eight years, Ouma mostly stays in bed and on occasion is taken outside to sit in a chair for a short while.

When asked why she thinks she lives so long, Ouma said firmly, yet light-heartedly: "What do you think, what is the problem? Only God who creates, knows. Now I'm done speaking."

The supercentenarian often reflects on her childhood, saying she grew up happily in the veld and with her mother and grandmother. She said she had no problems in life and always respected elders. After her husband died, she stayed alone to look after her children and animals, she said.

Ouma used to collect her natural food herself, but these days only lives on a little milk and soft porridge made from bread flour each day. Sometimes she takes soup. Her mind is still sharp, but at times, she 'disappears a bit' and forgets where she is and who her children are, daughter Claasen says. "But she never forgets her son, Dawid - she always says that is my child," Claasen adds.

Dawid, who is wheelchair-bound, lives on the same farm with his sister Josefina at a house nearby. Lintina said a church choir sang during the birthday party and everyone received communion administered by a Lutheran pastor. Ouma was given a cake with two candles which she blew out.

Lintina, who is clearly close to her grandmother, said Ouma was very quiet during the family gathering, "but you could tell she was very happy".

Currently, the oldest verified person to be alive is American, Susannah Jones who is 116 years old. The oldest authenticated age recorded by the Guinness World Records is for Jeanne Calment from France who was 122 years old when she died in 1997.