As the centenary celebrations for former statesman and world icon Nelson Mandela continue across the country.
In the metro named after him – Nelson Mandela Bay, 300 elderly citizens were treated to a special outing. 13 of the guests are over 100 years old.
Jan Steenberg, who is 114-years-old, spoke about the past to those who were willing to listen.
“I worked for the white farmers on their farms. Working from farm to farm and when I retired home, I heard that he (Mandela) freed us. The same people who suffered, he gave us opportunities to get back the land we worked on.”
For others the celebrations reflected the emancipation that came after 1994.
Getrude Mdyogolo, who is 93-years-old, says: “We were told to be housewives and the husband would see to things. Now there is a great improvement now especially after Madiba. He did a lot for us because when Madiba came out of prison, things changed.”
The elderly also praised Madiba for his contribution in shaping South Africa’s democracy.
Salman Zana, who is 100-years-old says: “Cecil John Rhodes before he died he had so much to do but done little. So I think if God could spare Madiba more he would have done more.”
Lumkile Heleni who is 104-years-old says: “I am terribly sad that he is gone he did all the right things, he was a leader.”
Allie Torring who is 103-years-old says: “he did so much positive things for us and he had a great responsibility on his shoulders and he managed to fulfil his promise he made to the people, he is a man.”
Event organisers say the aim of the event is to remind this special group that their communities would be worthless without them.
Eastern Cape Provincial CPF Deputy Chairperson, Monica Mbatsha says: “We feel that the elderly people are victimised neglected. Some are victims of domestic violence abuse and some of them are exploited by loan sharks. Therefore we said with this project we restore their dignity and give them support.”
Wednesday is testimony that the elderly are walking talking history books.