NINETY-EIGHT-YEAR-OLD Gogo Luda Mpofu of Mahlothova in Umguza District, Gelitazi Village 1, is in a class of her own.
She still has the energy to perform household chores, and formed an art and craft club that has five members.
Gogo Mpofu was blessed with 10 children, seven of whom have sadly passed on.
She lives with her grandchildren.
Her art and craft club makes reed mats and recycles plastic to make bags and fruit baskets, among other artefacts. She teaches women in her community to make artefacts for sale.
This dovetails with First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa’s women empowerment drive tailored to ensure the womenfolk make inroads into previously male-dominated fields and contribute meaningfully to economic development.
The First Lady has a passion for the development and empowerment of women and has visited various parts of the country setting up income-generating projects for them.
Yesterday, Gogo Mpofu had the honour of being visited by the First Lady during her ongoing programme of interacting with the elderly countrywide.
Amai Mnangagwa was welcomed by a jovial Gogo Mpofu, who was busy making reed mats outside her hut.
A goat was slaughtered and Amai Mnangagwa took part in cleaning the offals and taught women from Gelitazi Village how to roll the intestines and tripe into a delicacy called “zvinyenze” in Shona.
However, women from the area have their own way of preparing the dish, which they gladly demonstrated to the First Lady, who showed eagerness to learn.
After cooking and sharing a meal with the family and everyone present, it was time for the “new recruit” to join the art and craft club for lessons.
The First Lady was taken through the basics of making reed mats and doormats by Gogo Mpofu.
“I want to be her best student,” said the ecstatic First Lady. “She is 98 years old and holds so many skills. She is hardworking. We, the younger generation, must learn to use our hands, just like her. I always buy these reed mats, but after this lesson, I am going to make my own. I will take this special skill where I come from and were it not for time constraints, I could have made 10 such mats,” Amai Mnangagwa said with a chuckle.
“My greatest wish is for women countrywide to learn to use their hands. We must form clubs just like our granny here to sustain our families. I heard her saying her club has five members and I urge more women in this community to join.
“It is through such clubs that the young will learn from the old folk some of the do’s and don’ts of our culture. As a nation, we are one family, let’s unite and spread love, let us learn each other’s culture.”
Gogo Mpofu could not hide her joy after spending time with the First Lady.
“I have lived 98 years and this has never happened to me even this community that is interacting with the First Lady. She reduced herself to our level and performed all household chores.
“Here we do not roll intestines. We just boil them and we learnt how it is done the other side. She was also willing to learn from us,” she said.
Ward 9 Councillor in Gelitazi Village Mrs Sibongile Mkandla applauded the First Lady for her engagement.
“We learnt that as leaders we should work with people, look at our First Lady visiting villages even those in remote areas. This shows we have a lot to learn from each other and a lot to do for the development of our country,” said Mrs Mkandla.
Gogo Siphilile Ngwenya (80) quipped: “The First Lady has gone out of her way to teach us how to live with others as a community and we hope we shall continue doing the same. We learnt the importance of humility and we feel we can achieve more through working and living together in harmony,” she said.
From Gogo Mpofu’s homestead, the First Lady visited other homesteads where she interacted with the elderly.
After the cleaning and interactions, Amai Mnangagwa proceeded to Mahlothova Primary School, where she addressed a gathering.
“I feel humbled to have been given this opportunity to recognise the importance of the elderly as the custodians of our traditional norms and values. I assessed work done by the elderly in the communities and saw it fit to pay them a visit and listen to their concerns and render whatever assistance I can,” she said.
“Up to this day, I have travelled to various places where I am promoting the revival of our traditional norms and values.”
The First Lady decried social challenges triggered by urbanisation and the collapse of the extended family unit and moral decay.
She said it was critical to ensure the elderly were properly looked after and urged communities to allocate themselves time to clean the houses of the elderly and make sure they have access to healthy food.
“Even in the way we live, let us live as family without being selective. If you ask these elderly people, they will tell you how normal it was in those days gone by to live with aunts and uncles under one roof, eating from the same plate. We should get along well and work in harmony to look after these elderly people,” the First Lady said.
Amai Mnangagwa asked elderly women to take the lead in teaching the younger generation, saying she was also a child who needed to learn from them.
In their teachings, the women spoke strongly against domestic violence and urged the newly-married to handle their marriages with love and peace.
Through her Angel of Hope Foundation, she distributed food and baby kits to expecting mothers.
The Mother of the Nation is on record as saying her programmes are non-partisan and local leaders from various political parties attended the event.
Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs Minister Richard Moyo and Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Raji Modi, among other officials, also attended the event.