IF there is an age old question that has bothered humanity, it is the secret to long life.
With life expectancy in Zimbabwe at just over 55 years, many wonder what it takes to live long, while others say a long life is a blessing from God.
Ester Mpofu, popularly known as Gogo MaMpofu, who has lived for 100 years at her Bezha Nyololo homestead in Matabeleland South, where she was born and bred, might just have the secret for longevity.
She says she has lived for so long as a result of being principled, God-fearing, hardworking and living a healthy life style.
The centenarian appears physically strong as she can still walk around her yard, though with the support of a walking stick.
Her light-coloured skin is covered with wrinkles, her entire hair has turned grey, and although she is shortsighted she still has the ability to identify whoever she is talking to.
MaMpofu, who said she is excited to be celebrating her hundredth Christmas, told Southern Eye that the secret to her long life dates back to her youth, where she was a principled young woman, who tried by all means to keep away from immoral habits.
“So many people have asked what medication I have taken to live a long life, but I have not taken any medication, it is simply because when I was a youth I stayed away from immoral habits, and focused on a spiritual life which kept me on track,” she said.
“I did not engage in activities that have become popular to children of today, who find it exciting to go out and drink all night and forget about their lives.”
MaMpofu said although she had been battling with hypertension, peptic ulcers and arthritis for more than 50 years, she has been able to maintain a healthy life-style that has enabled her to manage her conditions.
“I have continued to make sure that I am active and keep myself busy, although my children discourage me from doing any chores,” she said.
“It is fortunate that I am not a lazy person and whenever I see that there is work that has to be done I do it.”
MaMpofu said one thing that people do not know about her is that during the country’s liberation struggle she used to host guerrillas, passing by to different places.
“Many people know me as a farmer and Christian, but there is more to me than that,” she said.
“I remember one day as I was serving the guerrillas, the colonial soldiers passed by and I immediately started preaching to the guerrillas to deceive the soldiers,” she said, with a hint of accomplishment.
“We were afraid, but because it was a life or death situation, we had to put up the act.”
MaMpofu encouraged the young generation to uphold Christian values.
Some community members described her as a God fearing person, a mother and a community builder.
“MaMpofu is like an aunt to me and has always dedicated her life to God,” Pastor Dumiso Ndlovu said.
Greta Moyo, a neighbour described MaMpofu as a great adviser.
“We have learnt many things as women from MaMpofu and she has stood with us through difficult times,” she said.
“Even though she has grown old, she is someone we can count on in the society.”
Elinah Ndlovu, a daughter in-law, said she was grateful to have Gogo MaMpofu as mother-in-law.