JOHANNESBURG—Having lived through British imperialism, apartheid and the era of democracy led by Nelson Mandela, a 119-year-old South African woman has a claim to be the world’s oldest person.
Johanna Mazibuko was born in 1894, according to her identity papers, but over a century later still makes her own bed every morning.
“I’m doing alright,” she told local daily The Sowetan during a recent visit to her house in the small town of Klerksdorp, northwest of Johannesburg.
She is the oldest of 10 siblings, and has outlived five of her own seven children.
“God gave my life in abundance, plus a bonus. I am very old now,” she said.
Her son Tseko, himself a ripe 77, who lives with his mother, said that “she is able to move on her own but cannot stand for a long time. She gets dizzy.”
Despite her age, Mazibuko cooks and dresses herself, and even does the laundry.
The rest of the day she watches television.
A tattered green ID book gives her date of birth as May 11, 1894. It was issued in 1986.
South Africa’s home affairs ministry could not immediately confirm the authenticity of Mazibuko’s identity documents, of which AFP has seen a copy.
The world’s oldest known person, 116-year-old Jiroemon Kimura from Japan, died in June.
Born in 1897, he worked at a post office for 40 years and after his retirement took up farming until he turned 90.
His hometown Kyotango is planning to do research into the reasons for its citizens’ longevity.
Besides Kimura 94 other people in his hometown will this year be 100 years old or older.