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The world’s oldest woman – who might actually be the world’s oldest person, too – has opened up on the secret to her extraordinary longevity after she celebrated her 128th birthday last week.
South African Johanna Mazibuko carries documents that claim she was born in 1894, which would make her comfortably the oldest person alive if verified.
That means that she’s seen the changing of two centuries, the end of British colonialism in her homeland, two world wars, and at whole heap of other significant world events.
She claims that a simple diet has been key to her long health, having grown up on a farm eating wild spinach and drinking fresh milk.
Johanna says that she was raised on the farm in the town of Ottosdal as the eldest of 12 children, and misses the simple life that she had there.
From her home in Jouberton, Klerksdorp, she explained: “We lived so well on the farms. There were no problems.”
Well, that’s not exactly true.
She did say that once they were troubled by an infestation of locusts on the farm, but they came up with a pretty novel solution to deal with them.
Johanna continued: “There were ones we could catch and eat. It was like you are eating meat.
“We would just fry them and eat them like that, just on their own.”
Outside of insects, Johanna says that she loved eating wild spinach and fresh milk, and although she does now eat ‘modern food’ she misses the simplicity of her younger years.
While she does struggle with her hearing, Johanna does still have much of her independence and can move around her house well enough.
Of her earlier life, she recalled: “I was married to an older man. His first wife had died.
“He was an independent man. He had a horse carriage and cows.
“I would milk the cows and make butter to sell.
“That man treated me very well and made me forget about my life before him. I did not want for anything.”
She had seven children with her husband Stawana, two of whom are still alive.
Johanna has 50 grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well.
Since 2001 she’s employed a carer called Thandiwe, who she has now become good friends with.
Thandiwe said: “I can’t sleep when I am not next to her. When I come back, she will also say she couldn’t sleep.
“She says she just sits by the window looking at the gate and wondering when I will be back.”
Among her local community, there is a hope that one day Johanna will be officially recognised in the Guinness Book of Records.
Her local village prophet, a man called OJ Madikong, said: “I believe Mazibuko could have long since been put in Guinness book of Records.
“The whole world would know, but we know that it is never late.
“As long as we as people in Africa know that there is such a person, we are happy that there is someone with 128 years, whether they try to hide her or what but we know there is.”
As for when the inevitable happens, Johanna has already made a plan for what needs to be done.
She concluded: “When I die, they must slaughter a cow for me.
“They must bury me well, so that I never bother them.”
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