Nora de Kock, one of the country’s oldest women, says staying single has kept her alive for 106 years.
She celebrated her birthday with residents and family at a modest party in Mimosa Street, Kuils River, Cape Town, on Sunday.
She said that by turning down offers of marriage, she survived colonialism and apartheid, lived through both World Wars and has been around longer than the ANC, who threw her a party .
“I never got married. I lived with the father of my two children, Harry Olman. When he died, I never bothered with another man. What must I do with a man? The only man I allowed into my heart is Jesus Christ,” she said.
She was born in 1910 in a village in Paarl before she set down roots in Kuils River where she lived with Olman and her two children in a shack.
“In those days, the whole of Kuils River was farming area. I worked on the farms here. I can remember spending my days barefoot when it was warm and working in the kitchen to make ends meet. I was used to the hard work, using my hands,” she said.
Despite the cruelties she experienced as a coloured worker in apartheid, she cherished the happier moments she spent with her family which slowly grew while living in the tiny shack.
De Kock has experienced the birth of seven grandchildren and saw nine great- grandchildren mature into adulthood.
“One of my most treasured moments is when I received my own home. I was also happiest when apartheid ended in 1994. We celebrated that, it was one of the best days of my life. Apartheid was a terrible time,” she said.
“What I can tell children in this day and age is welcome God into your heart and honour your parents. Go to church as much as you are able and wake up earlier to experience the day.”
As she danced to up-beat songs reverberating through loud speakers, De Kock’s neighbour, Maria Fredericks, 56, said: “I am also a great grandmother, but I grew up in front of Aunty Nora. She was always a strong lady. She was my grandmother’s friend. She always lectured us to respect our elders.”
Celebrating De Kock’s birthday had always been a tradition in the community, said Carol Crotz-Van Wyk, who organised the festivities.
“Every year since Aunty Nora turned 100 we organised a celebration for her. She was also celebrated in Parliament, last Thursday and treated to a lunch and supper with government officials,” Crotz-Van Wyk said.