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118 years old and still counting

80-year-old daughter thanks God for family’s longevity


Mohau Serabele

old womanClad in a white tee-shirt and red shawl, she sits a few metres from her newly-built two-roomed home, enjoying the sunshine.
Just in front of her is a large plastic sheet, on which there is a small pile of yellowish soya-beans.
She silently selects the rotten beans from the heap and throws them away effortlessly.
This is Nkhono ‘Mamosiuoa Lekomola of Sebitia Ha Nkutu.
At the ripe age of 80 years, Nkhono ‘Mamosiuoa looks like the oldest person in the homestead.

As soon as this reporter marvels at her longevity, Nkhono ‘Mamosiuoa interrupts politely: “I am not the person you are looking for. She is there.”
Nkhono ‘Mamosiuoa is pointing at another equally elderly lady sitting right against a freshly-painted white wall, and remarks with a smile: “She is my mother, I am preparing these beans to cook so she can have a decent meal this evening.”

There is a sharp contrast between the two women as they sit at the same stoep but a little bit apart ; there is hardly any resemblance between them, apart from their advanced age.
Nkhono ‘Mamosiuoa’s mother is wearing a blue hat and red dress, and her name is Nkhono ‘Mamohlapisi Mabakole.
She looks pensive as if deep in thought, taking the traditional female tobacco snuff from a little, white, container.
She appears happy and undisturbed by the hive of activity going on around her — not even the sharp sound of a flashing camera seems to trouble her.

According to her daughter, Nkhono ‘Mamohlapisi was born back in 1896 and celebrated her 118th birth day last Sunday on May 18.
She is probably the eldest person living in Sebitia Ha Nkutu, and possibly the whole of Lesotho too.
Nkhono ‘Mamosiuoa is not sure whether her mother is the oldest Mosotho alive today, and only notes how blessed they both are to have lived that long.
“She is a joy to live with. Although she has lost her hearing, she still tells us lots of stories from her times and we have a lot to learn from her,” Nkhono ‘Mamosiuoa said.
Nkhono ‘Mamohlapisi’s exact birthplace is unknown, but according to the daughter, her family is traced to a village called Liotloaneng, which is about 10 kilometres from Sebitia.
There is also another theory that she could have come from Qoqolosing in the Leribe district and settled in Sebitia when she got married to her late husband, Rantšo Mabakole.
According to Nkhono ‘Mamosiuoa, her mother gave birth to six children, and only two are still alive.

Her two surviving children were born in 1930 and 1934, the latter being Nkhono ‘Mamosiuoa.
Asked about the secret behind their longevity, ‘Mamosiuoa said she really did not know why the two of them had survived that long.
“I cannot tell you the reason why my mother, and myself and sibling, have survived up to this day. I think this is all God’s blessing,” she said.
When the Sunday Express tried to interview Nkhono ‘Mamohlapisi, she could hardly hear, but continued to nod her head, telling this reporter she was glad to see him.
From time to time, she would comment about events that took place back in the days when she was still a sprightly young girl.
At one point during the interview, she suddenly broke into song, singing the popular Roman Catholic hymn, Ahe Anna ea khabane!

Her daughter told the Sunday Express that the hymn appears to be her mother’s favourite. “She always sings that song. She strongly believes in the Catholic church and goes to church every Sunday without fail,” she said.
Meanwhile, Nkhono ‘Mamohlapisi came into the limelight when she was discovered by members of the Thapoha Hiking Club.

The club’s spokesperson, David Seutloali, told the Sunday Express the group found the old lady early this year during one of their regular hiking tours in the Ha Makhoroana area.
“We went to the house just to see how the people there were living. To our shock, we came across this amazingly strong woman,” said Mr Seutloali.
“We were moved by the conditions we found her living in. The house in which she lived with her daughter and grandchildren was extremely dilapidated . It was not the kind of house that a person would love to stay in. Members of the club decided there and then to do something
for the old woman and those living with her.”

The group then went all out to find building material and construct a new house for the family. The home was officially handed over to Nkhono ‘Mamohlapisi last Sunday, on her birthday.
According to Seutloali, Nkhono ‘Mamohlapisi is a blessing to all Basotho.
“It is in very rare cases that we have people of her age among us. She is a huge blessing to us, the people of Lesotho. I challenge all communities around Lesotho to take good care of our elderly parents, and not abuse them as we have often see happening around us.”

On her part, nkhono ‘Mamosiuoa says she fully appreciates the new house the family received from Thapoha Hiking Club.
“Each time heavy rains fell, the family would suffer because the roof leaked so much. But this new one is a real wonder. We are very thankful for what these people have done for us. I hope and pray that they may be blessed at all times.”

During Sunday’s handing over of the house, ‘Mamohlapisi’s 12-year-old great grandson, was also given a cow as a gift from one of the members of the Thapoha Hiking Club.
The pregnant heifer was given the name Gift.
“We called her Gift because the cow came to us as a real present. It was a gift of love from people of goodwill,” Nkhono ‘Mamosiuoa said.

However, Nkhono ‘Mamosiuoa said the family was happy about the cow but worried about theft.
“We used to have several herd of cattle but they were taken away by thieves. I hope this one will remain with us for a very long time to come.”

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