How fabulous it is for South Africa to have in our midst a person who has lived to the ripe old age of 109 years? That is the story of Mrs Ellen Makhoba we are telling today – but she is by no means the oldest person alive.
According to the Gerontology Research Group, an organisation of researchers who verify and record super-centenarian status, the oldest living person – also a woman – is Lucile Randon of France. Randon turned 118 years old on 11 February last year.
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MaMakhoba was born in 1914, the year of World War I, and was in her 20s when World War II broke out. She was 12 when Queen Elizabeth was born, four when Nelson Mandela was born, 50 when he was incarcerated and was there to see him walk out of prison 27 years later.
MaMakhoba witnessed the institutionalisation of apartheid and outlived it. She’s the same age as Maserati, the Italian luxury vehicle manufacturer, and Speedo, known for its swim briefs, which was founded in Australia by a Scottish emigrant Alexander MacRae.
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She celebrated her milestone yesterday, surrounded by loved ones, including great-great-great-grandchildren. Happy birthday, MaMakhoba.