LERIBE-‘Maletsema ‘Mapuleng ‘Miri, living at Ha Majara in Leribe district, has now become a great-great-grandmother after turned 116 on Saturday April 15 during the Easter holiday. At that age, she could easily become the oldest woman in Lesotho.
Granny ‘Maletsema is one of the first people who formed the Majara village and many of her age-mates are now worthy to be called ‘ancestors’. At this very ‘ripe’ age, she never thought she would live this long and her family is now five generations apart.
In 2011, ‘Maletsema gathered around all of her children and great-grand children to celebrate her 100th birthday saying she had reached her finality and ‘could die anytime soon” but come 2017, she is still alive and healthy. She has only lost a bit of her sight and hearing but she is very much alert of what is happening around her.
Her birthday was celebrated in the Sesotho culture with her traditional foods such as nyekoe, likhobe tsa poone, likhetšo and senkhoane, and the decorations in the guests’ tent were made of such items as mafits’oane and lithebe.
The tiny granny looked much very happier as she was lifted up like a child and was shown to the guests who ululated in praise to her long life.
At the celebration, her grand grand-daughters and grand-grand-children were dressed in traditional Sesotho attire such as mose oa khomo and that were smeared with letsoku.
According to one of her grandsons, Nthunya ‘Miri, the day was celebrated in that style because his grandmother loves Sesotho culture and food so much and has always been loyal to it – reason why she has lived this long.
“What an amazing celebration our family had on that day when my grandmother, with the presence of most of the family members, came home for Easter holiday turned 116 years. And many flew from the Tsoinyane area to be part of this special milestone in her life,” said ‘Miri.
“Needless to say, she has lived a long and fulfilling life and has had five generations after her,” he said.
“Our grandmother is someone we can depend on. She is a very thoughtful lady and a wonderful friend who listens to her children with an open heart. She always loves her family dearly, no matter how old she is, she is forever concerned with the well-being of her children, grandchildren and all of her family,” he said.
“But the secret to her long, happy life was never known to us. She has broken the record in our village and in the country. This is why we decided to celebrate her 116 years with her,” he added.
‘Miri’s family celebrated the grand-mother’s special day with multitudes of the community living near and far away from the village. The family found it worthy to honor her for raising all of her children and generations that come after her in a very special way.
“It was truly incredible to honour her with Sesotho music and traditional dances like mohobelo as well as horse racing, with friends and family members.
“Throughout the years, our grandmother has been telling us that when she dies, she does not want to go to the mortuary but be buried a day after her death,” he said.
According to her grandson, granny ‘Maletsema has always been a very strong and independent woman.
“She has never been one to complain about life’s hardships. She is just a ‘pull yourself up by the boot straps’ kind of person who just keeps moving forward. We have never heard her say anything about wanting to live to 116 years but with her inner drive and motivation, we are not surprised at all.”
‘Miri said he would not forget his grandmother’s words to him and other grandchildren when they informed her of their plan to celebrate her happy life and he quotes his grandmother’s very words: “That would make me very happy and I plead God to take my life on the same day of the celebration while all my children are gathered around me so that they can bury me the following day without wasting any time. I really mean it when I say you should not take my body to the mortuary.”
The celebration was also praised with the presence of the Majara village head, Chief Ikhetheleng Majara. Chief Majara said he has known grandmother ‘Maletsema to be been a woman of a good example, a leader to her children and other children in the village.
“She raised her children with respect. And she has proved the saying that the younger generation should respect their elders in order for him or her to live longer, which is also stated in the Bible.”
“I have known her while she was already a grown up and I used to see her and the family eating only Sesotho food and she would go and eat wild-vegetables.
“I believe her attitude and behaviour has made her live up to this far. She is one the first of people who lived up to this far in this village and in the Tsoinyane area. She has really made history because we have never seen a person living up to this age,” he said.