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Still Counting: Meet Zimbabwe’s Oldest Man Aged 114

Harare – Zimbabwe might have a knock at the Guinness Book of Records after the discovery of Thampson Mthombeni – aged 114 , according to me...

Harare – Zimbabwe might have a knock at the Guinness Book of Records after the discovery of Thampson Mthombeni – aged 114, according to media reports.

The now-blind man was born in 1902 – and he claims to be older than that – and was never taken ill in more than a century.

And with blindness having drastically cut his world, condemning him to one place, every single day is a long and laborious one in his journey to longevity.

The only time he visited the hospital, he claims was three years back after falling blind. Everyday he wakes up and with the aid of a walking stick, crouching over and leaning heavily on his cane, he finds his place to sit.

Having been deprived of his sight, Mthombeni’s life now borders around his bedroom hut, the kitchen and the toilet. And when politics of the belly demands his attention, he again uses the rope to lead him to the kitchen to grab food.
Zimbabwe Might Have a Crack at World Records 

This is routine and Mthombeni is now used to it and life goes on! But with his world now centered on three things, the toilet, the kitchen and his bedroom hut, he says he feels lonely and useless.

“I am redundant now, I don’t have much to do. The world to me now means the toilet, the kitchen and my bedroom hut and with the prevailing food shortage in our area due to drought at times I don’t bother going to the kitchen because there will be no food,” narrated Mthombeni.

He says, he still feels physically healthy to do other chores but his eyes betrayed him.

“I am feeling healthy and still counting. I wish I could see so that I can join others in the fields but my eyes betrayed me. However, I thank God for being one of the chosen few to live this long,” he said

Mthombeni, who is of the Malawian origin, says at times he feels lonely as everyday he sits at the same place pondering on the day when his maker will decide to call him.

“You know at times I wonder how God chose destiny for everyone. You know if I hear of young people dying in the village, young people who are productive dying while myself, old as I am, still living. It’s God’s choice we can’t change it but it’s painful,” said Mthombeni.

The centenarian says although he was now deprived of his sight, his only regret was that he can’t do anything with his solace coming in that he has seen and witnessed everything.

“I think I have seen it all. I witnessed the First World War, Hitler’s Germany War, the First and Second Chimurenga wars, almost everything,” he said.

Born in Mzimba in Northern Malawi in the 18th century, Mthombeni came into Rhodesia on foot at the age of 14 and later obtained a Rhodesian identity card, which was popularly known at that time in a native language as chitikinyani.

He says he, together with his peers again, crossed the Limpopo River into South Africa on foot where he worked at various mines.

“I worked at Kimberely for years before I came back to Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe we went around the country opening mines before I stayed in Shurugwi for over 17 years working at Tebekwe Mine,” he said.

Now under the custody of a distant relative, Samson Ngwenyama (91) whose roots are also traced to Malawi, Mthombeni now lives in a squalid hut in Njobo Village in remote Mberengwa hoping that one day he will leave the earth to meet his maker.

Mthombeni says he fathered eight children with five women during his productive days but is not in touch with any.

“Some I fathered them in South Africa, some back in Malawi but there are two girls I fathered here in Zimbabwe and we lost contact many, many years ago,” he says. – H metro

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