SHE has kept God’s commandments, lived righteously, worked hard and never lost her faith.
These are the secrets to longevity and the living testimony of Gogo Jemima Chipato-Mhungu of Chivi, who celebrated the milestone of reaching 100 years last month.
Born on January 8, 1923, the Seventh Day Adventist devotee’s family invited The Sunday Mail to her home last Sunday, as her family belatedly celebrated her birthday.
While many who have reached her golden age struggle with mobility, Gogo Chipato-Mhungu is able to walk freely without a walking stick.
She is also an effervescent character, who constantly wears a smile.
However, her major impairment is dementia, which causes memory lapses.
Other than that, she looks after herself well and is able to engage in animated conversation.
As she prepared to blow the 100 candles on her cake, Gogo Chipato-Mhungu said the candle lights illuminated a life well lived as a committed servant of God.
“I have always diligently served my church, as a Seventh Day Adventist. Growing up, I loved going to church and I was in the choir. Up to today, I haven’t lost my Christian faith because God is the giver of life,” she said.
“Seeking God and keeping his commandments is the only secret to longevity. Surely, the Lord will give you a long life. Also, obedience is the greatest thing that has brought me this far.”
The centenarian, who looks younger than her age, gave birth to eight children, has 18 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
In her lifetime, she has witnessed major historical events that include World War 2, Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, the attainment of independence in 1980, the land reform programme and Operation Restore Legacy.
She revealed that one of the most painful moments of her life was the loss of her husband, who died in 2000.
Gogo Chipato-Mhungu said she has learnt many lessons about life, but the teaching she upholds the most is obedience. “It’s not by my power to live up to today but the grace of God. To God, 100 years is just a number. However, throughout this journey, I have learnt that obedience can take you far. I listened to what my parents taught me and that is why I am celebrating this milestone.
“Children of nowadays have lost that. They are so ill-disciplined and that is why we see them getting pregnant at a younger age. The marriages are not lasting for long and they end up being single parents all because of lack of obedience,” she said.
Having spent much of her adult life as a housewife, the centenarian said she developed a passion for cooking.
She said her healthy diet, which largely consists of well-cooked traditional food, has significantly contributed to her long life.
“I was a housewife who loved cooking. I love to eat sadza with any traditional relish, and my favourite beverage is maheu because they are so healthy,” she said.
Her daughter, Mrs Tendai Babbage, said her mother’s life is inimitable.
“I have seen friends who have cried with their mothers who are just 60 years old. I always thank God daily for the gift of life of my mother because at her age she walks by herself, eats alone and bathes herself.
“My mom taught me to trust in God and her life is a symbol of that. If you trust in God, everything else is vanity. She is a simple woman, who has brought up professors and lawyers but she doesn’t show off because it means nothing to her. All she speaks about is God and that if we don’t have humility, we will not go anywhere in life,” she said.
Mrs Babbage said fearing God and loving others are the greatest lessons she has learnt from her mother.
“My prayer has always been to thank God for giving me a mother who has been caring to everyone who came through her way. She took care of so many relatives from her side and my father’s side before she even had her own children,” she said.
“With old age, dementia is coming in, and she forgets people.
‘‘Even if she is to forget me, I am not worried for as long as she still holds on to her God, which is exactly what she is doing now. Every day she wakes up, I smile and she prays for me, and that’s all I need from her.”
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— Sunday Mail