HE has lived to blow out more than 100 candles!
Despite being age-worn with a wrinkly skin, a few stumps of teeth and scanty, pure grey hair on his bald head, Reverend Jafie Matimbini (104) of the African Gospel Church in Bezu Village in Bulilima District exudes wisdom, humour and personality.
At his age, there is something special that this centenarian lives to talk about.
Rev Matimbini’s long-term memory is vibrant as he still recalls things that happened many years ago.
Every Sunday, he stands behind the pulpit to deliver a sermon before his congregants. Due to a sharp memory, he recites Biblical scriptures with ease.
However, due to age, his sight is now poor making it difficult for him to read the Bible.
Rev Matimbini celebrated his 104th birthday a week ago with his wife of 83 years, Khethiwe, together with his grandchildren, friends and relatives.
For the centenarian, the birthday candles illuminate more than an age. They represent a life well lived.
Rev Matimbini starts each day with porridge and a cup of tea and ends with isitshwala and dried vegetables (umfutshwa).
He said his secret to a healthier and longer life is a healthy diet. Regular exercising also contributed to his longevity.
Most importantly, Rev Matimbini said keeping God’s commandments and living a righteous life contributed to the longer life that he has enjoyed over the last century.
“I thank God for every breath I take, which is a reason for celebration. Proverbs 9 verses 10-11 reads: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding. For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased,” he said.
“If we go to Proverbs 3 verse 1-2, the Bible says ‘My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.”
Rev Matimbini said throughout his entire life, he has kept God’s commandments and lived out His Word.
“This honour and blessing are the rewards for faithfulness and obedience. I was born again in 1939 and since then I never looked back,” he said.
Like other boys in the village, Rev Matimbini grew up herding cattle and occasionally engaging in turf wars with his peers.
“As boys I remember we would meet by the riverside and engage in fights. We grew up eating traditional dishes such as dried meat mixed with peanut butter and wild fruits as opposed to the Western dishes,” he said.
Rev Matimbini went to school up to Standard 1 (now Grade 3) after which he went to Bulawayo to look for employment. He worked as a domestic worker in several so-called white suburbs during the colonial era before relocating to South Africa in 1939.
In South Africa, he settled in Johannesburg, working as a chef. While in that country, he started attending church services.
“Upon repenting and dedicating my life to Jesus Christ, I left my old evil ways and departed from iniquity, which is what I still preach and live,” he said.
“I was in South Africa from 1939 when the Second World War started and stayed there until 1949.
“I decided to return home and started ministering the gospel of Jesus on a full-time basis, which is what I am still doing up to this day.”
Rev Matimbini married his childhood sweetheart in 1939 and the couple has been together ever since.
“My wife, Khethiwe Moyo, comes from a nearby village called Tobogwana. She was chosen by my mother after she admired her character and qualities. She has been my childhood sweetheart until we got married in 1939,” he said.
Rev Matimbini said love, coupled with respect is what kept their 83-year-old marriage alive until today.
“The secret behind this marriage, which has stood the test of time, is because we kept God’s commandments. The Bible in Ephesians 5 v 22-29 says wives should submit themselves to their own husbands as they do to the Lord,” he said.
“For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour,” he said accurately quoting the scriptures.
“Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Equally, the Bible says husbands should love their wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for it.”
Rev Matimbini said true love should be accompanied by results.
“You don’t just love your wife by merely saying it through your mouth. There has to be results showing that indeed there is true love. You should buy her gifts, chocolates so that she feels loved and appreciated,” he said.
“Unfortunately, today we are witnessing a surge in divorce cases, and this is because there is a lack of respect and love among couples, especially the younger generation.”
Soon after their marriage, the couple stayed for almost 10 years without children.
“We were later blessed with two daughters, but sadly they have since both passed away, one of them died in an accident in South Africa while the other after a short illness in Bulawayo,” said Rev Matimbini.
He said today’s youths disregard God’s commandment, which is why they are now dying prematurely.
Rev Matimbini noted that youths no longer respected their parents, saying it has attracted the wrath of God.
Quoting Ecclesiastes 12:1, Rev Matimbini said: “Remember your Creator in the days of your youths, before days of adversity come and the years approach of which you will say, ‘I find no pleasure in them.”
“In Ephesians 6:2, the Bible says honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise. Again, Exodus 20:12 says honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
Rev Matimbini said things started changing when people started disregarding African cultures and adopting Western cultures and traditions.