“ IT WAS LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT” GRANNY, 109 SAYS ABOUT HUBBY AS SHE WALKS DOWN MEMORY LANE”
The Guinness World Records recently named Misao Okawa, a Japanese woman who celebrated her 115th birthday last month as the oldest woman in the world.
But much closer to home,Bogadi Koosentse at the ripe old age of 109 is certainly among the strongest contenders for the ‘oldest person in the Botswana’ title.
When asked about her secret to a long life, the super centenarian raises her frail finger and points to the sky.
“Only God knows why he’s still keeping me, but I’m not complaining,” she says jokingly.
Her last-born daughter and caretaker Tshenolo Victoria Ratlhogo (62), says she enjoys her aged mother’s company as she feels like she is taking care of a child. “She has come full circle now.
She’s more like a child than an adult,” Ratlhogo says as she ushered The Voice team in the bedroom for the interview.
“Two months ago she was much more active and was able to walk around the yard with the support of her walking stick, but all that energy has gone and she just sits in the house,” Ratlhogo continues.
Although she looks frail and a bit shaky due to her old age, Koosentse still has memories of her youthful days.
Her teary eyes brighten up and a smile lights up her wrinkled face as she recalls meeting, Tomeletso Koosentse, the man who later became her husband and father to her eleven children.
“We met in Lobatse when he was coming from the mines in Johannesburg.
It was love at first sight but it took us some time before we decided to take our relationship to another level.
He was originally from Kweneng district but his family had settled in Ranaka.
When we finally formalized our marriage, we settled in Lotlhakane,” she recalls.
A fourth child in a family of eleven, Koosentse says she never had the chance to go to school. Instead she looked after her parents cattle and eventually reared her own.
She also grew crops and together with her husband they managed to sell some of the produce and sent their children to school.
Although her lack of education has made it difficult for Koosentse to remember dates including her birth date, she still recalls the most challenging period of her life when her husband went to the second world war.
“I had to be strong and to have faith that he was going to come back alive.
But it wasn’t easy and when he eventually made it back from Hitler’s war we were all relieved and we lived happily ever after till he died some years later after a short illness,” she says
After she lost her husband, Koosentse did not get into any other relationship as she was more concerned about raising her children.
“We were not suffering as such because things, especially the basic necessities were more affordable than they are now.
I used to weave traditional skirts and sold them for around 10 cents. A cow was worth about 50 cents and sometimes I’d sell a few of them and I was able to feed and pay school fees for my children without much struggle,” she recalls.
Her secret to a long life is to desist from bad habits like smoking and eating and drinking excessively.
“I grew up eating simple but healthy food and I avoided alcohol and smoking.”
But after all the years of a healthy diet, the old woman now prefers junk food which her caretakers say it makes her happy.
“Like I said, she is now a child. She spends a lot of time eating sweets and biscuits.
She also prefers yoghurt and soft chicken and we have got no choice but to give her what she likes,” Ratlhogo says.
Koosentse’s grandson, Johnson Matlapeng (61) says his grandmother remains an inspiration to him even in old age.
“She used to tell us fireside stories when we were young and I still remember everything she taught me.
Very soon we’ll be both queuing up for our old-age pension but she’ll always be my granny,” he says with a chuckle.
Councillor for Lotlhakane East, Donald Habana says Koosentse has always been a mother figure to him since his arrival in the village.
“I arrived here in 1983 and I’ve always turned to her for advice and she has never let me down She is a paragon of virtue and wisdom,”he says.