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100-year-old man ready to vote in Zim election

by Staff Reporter
27 May 2018 at 09:14hrs | Views
AT 100 years old, John Makanjera is still full of life. You could say he is young at heart.

He is a registered voter, an avid newspaper reader, and does not shy away from expressing his thoughts – like them or not.

When The Sunday Mail visited him, Makanjera was at the Zanu-PF Headquarters in Harare, rekindling memories with fellow political restrictees of the liberation struggle.

Clad in a neat, grey suit and a fashionable fedora, he shrinks away from any hand-holding as he strutted around and spoke his mind.

The sheer number of political parties that have said they want to contest the 2018 harmonised elections incenses him.

They were 128 at the last count.

"Umwe musi ndakaverenga nyaya mubepa rinonzi Herald raitaura kuti ma party ava over 100, ndikati zvinotipei izvozvi? Maparty haafani kuwanda so, zvinokonzera nyonga-nyonga. (I read a story in The Herald which said that registered political parties in the country are now more than 100 and I said to myself, what do we gain from this? We don't need so many political parties, it it lads to instability)," he says.

Then quickly accepting that he cannot do anything about it, he adds with a smile: "Iyemi vana vadiki ndimi muri kukonzera kuti maparty awande imi. (Young people are the ones behind the increase in political parties)."

The centenarian believes the fewer political parties there are, the more the nation can speak with one voice, which to him is the recipe for development.

"Honai zvakaitika gore rakapera; Zimbabwe yakashamisa nyika dzese - no noise, no what. (Look at what happened last year; Zimbabwe surprised everyone - no noise, just peace)," in reference to the peaceful marches that followed Operation Restore Legacy and ended with Mr Robert Mugabe resigning and Emmerson Mnangagwa becoming Head of State and Government.

"Ndizvo zvinofana kuitika – kubatana kwakadaro (This is what we expect - unity)," he says.

Makanjera was born in April 1918 in Chiweshe's Makope area. He attended school there, before heading to the then Salisbury to look for a job.

While working for what is now Schweppes Zimbabwe in his twenties, Makanjera was driven into political activism.

"Kamwana kemurungu kadiki kai-daidza murume mukuru mutema kuti ‘boy'. Nyangwe asina chaanoziva aiuya achiita boss wako. (A small white boy would call an adult black man ‘boy'. Even without any work experience, he was automatically appointed your boss)," he recalls.

Makanjera was abducted by agents of the colonial government in 1965 for his political activism and was confined to Villa Salazar Camp 3 in Gonarezhou National Park.

He was to spend the next three years there.

The centenarin remembers how he and fellow restrictees cheated death by a whisker when they went into the dense forest in search of honey.

It was not to be a sweet outing, as they soon encountered a herd of elephants that chased them off.

After the life-threatening ordeal, the thankful survivors made merry, with Makanjera drumming the tunes. There was no alcohol in the celebration, and not just because they were under restriction.

You see, Makanjera believes that the secret to a long life is staying away from booze.

"Hwahwa hwakashata. Kusvika kwangu pandiri nhasi kuchengetwa naMwari nekusanwa hwahwa. (Alcohol is bad. I have lived so long because God takes care of me and I have shunned alcohol)," he counsels.

Not that Makanjera was always teetotaller.

He vaguely remembers a day, in his early 20s, when he and his friends drank themselves into a stupor. That he could not properly recall, the following day, what had happened during the binge convinced him to stop hitting the bottle.

Makanjera married Enriecha 76 years ago – and they are still together.

Six of their 12 children are late, and they have 34 grandchildren and more great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren than Makanjera can count.

And he encourages all those of voting age to register to cast their ballots.

"Ini ndakaregister kudhara kumusha. Bepa rakanditaurira kuti mwedzi uno uyu kuri kuzarirwa vanoda kuregister kuvhota nekutarisa mazita avo kuti akabuda zvakanaka here. Vanhu ngavaende. (I have long registered to vote at my rural home. The newspaper says the provisional voters' roll will be open for registered voters to check if their details were correctly captured. People should go and check)."

Source - The Standard