Namibia’s Super-Centenarian Alive and Well

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By Chrispin Inambao

KATIMA MULILO

In the absence of a proven scientific method to pin-point the actual year she was born and the lack of accurate birth records her exact age will never be known, though villagers swear her birth predates by far the arrival of colonialists.

Mpyu village’s eldest resident is frail and vulnerable-looking Elizabeth Namasiku Numwa, a super-centenarian who elderly villagers that are still alive and those who died a long time ago believe/d this woman’s birth predates by far the arrival of German imperialists who initially set foot in Caprivi in 1901 and established a military/police outpost at Schuckmannsburg in flood-prone Ikaba.

Mpyu village headman, sixty-nine-year-old Bornventure Samuel Mulongwe, a great, great grand nephew of this super-centenarian recently told New Era that his great, great aunt is without a shred of doubt the oldest living being in Namibia, because by the time German colonialists arrived in Caprivi, Mulongwe was told by his late parents that Numwa was already a grown-up easily placing her date of birth in eighteen-hundred-and-something.

Fine wrinkles crease her face and she is hard of hearing and while she lost use of both eyes in 2002, this super-centenarian appears to have aged gracefully though she now needs to be nursed around-the-clock and she cannot walk unaided.

She moves around by groping and she was permanently retired from planting, cooking, fetching water and firewood some 22 years ago by her great, great nephew whose now looks after this woman who possibly holds a global longevity record.

Ma Numwa whom villagers at Mpyu in Caprivi in Katima Rural are adamant is possibly Namibia’s oldest, if not the world’s oldest living being, looks very old.

And most interestingly, despite the opportunistic infections that come with old age Mulongwe says, “she has never been admitted to hospital”.

Because she now only has a few teeth villagers normally feed her white bread, usually soaked either in tea or in her favorite fizzy guava juice, and at times she is given meat that is pounded and thoroughly cooked, but de-boned fresh water fish is also her favourite.

When maize is in season villagers also pick and prepare baby corn for her.
Fried cookies are her other favourite meal and she ensures the people looking after her buy her some of her favourite food when they receive the N$370 pension on her behalf.

Another interesting trait of this elderly citizen is that she rarely gets angry and due to this advanced age her memory fails her frequently as she cannot easily remember names, though her memory is relatively intact when it comes to the arrival of the Germans.

Her great, great grandnephew says he is blessed to look after her though caring for such an elderly woman requires a lot of patience, as she has to be washed just like a baby.

Though elderly Ma Numwa is not finicky about the food she eats she does not like cats, and she likes her hut to be kept spotless and if it is dirty that is when she becomes vocal.

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