Granny gets ID  at last!

Granny gets ID at last!

MASERU – ’Mamotlalepula Mokebe is probably one of the oldest people in Lesotho.
Although Mokebe’s age could not be ascertained, some officials at the National Identity and Civil Registry (NICR) estimate she could be well over 90.
Her problem was that she had never had an ID.

Mokebe’s story came to national attention after she tried to register for a national identity card last Thursday.
Mokebe’s daughter ’Manthati Mokebe, who is 53, told thepost she is the fifth out of six children.
She said Mokebe’s first child was born in 1948, meaning her mother was probably born in the early 1930s.
Mokebe does not recall when she was born.

She however remembers a time when men were called to join the army for the war in Europe.
The Second World War began in 1939 and ended in 1945.

She also vividly remembers how she used to feed her family the moseeka grass during “the great famine” that followed the red dust that blocked sunlight from reaching the earth.

That was between February and March 1933 when, red dust covered the whole country and beyond. Oral historians say temperatures immediately dropped to below zero and the vegetation withered.

There was no corn or sorghum harvests that year, and being Basotho’s staple grains abject starvation followed.
Mokebe remembers that she would go out in the wild looking for the moseeka grass, grind it into powder and cook for the family.

She remembers its bad taste at the beginning but became nice as they adapted to it, after all it was the only food that was available.
“I recall very well when we cooked moseeka to make bread during the Great Famine because there was no other food that was available,” Mokebe said.
“I have been favoured by God. I have lived to honour my parents and older people. This is is why I have been granted over a hundred years of life by God.”
Mokebe was born at a time when most Basotho did not keep records of when a baby was born.
Major events were used to mark approximately when a person was born.

“My parents had no idea when I was born, I still don’t know when I was born but when I related these experiences of the greatest events in Lesotho, historians know when they all happened,” she says. She doesn’t even know exactly when she got married.

“I was still very young then, and I know that a man had come to my home to request for my hand in marriage,” Mokebe says.
After this marriage, Mokebe gave birth to six children, three boys and three girls. Only four are still alive.
Mokebe never went to a formal school. She never learnt to read and write.
Mokebe feels she has lived her life to the full.

“I have seen the best and worst of what life can offer. I have lived too long, I cannot do anything for myself anymore, and I have become nothing but a burden to my family,” she says.

However, her daughter ’Manthati does not think it is time for her mother die. “We don’t want her to die, not now, she is a living history to our children and she still needs to see them all grow,” ’Manthati says. Mokebe had his eldest son take care of him in Makhaleng, Likuiling, before he died. She then moved to Motimposo Motse-mocha at her daughter’s home. Although Mokebe looks young, common body pains torment her daily.
She is also arthritic.

Mokebe only had an election card which got lost when her daughter was still preparing to apply for her birth certificate and identity document.
“We had trouble getting these documents because we were asked to go back either to the chief or the family or given an excuse we never understood at the offices,” ’Manthati says.

According to the latest WHO data published in 2015 life expectancy in Lesotho is 51.7 years for males while females’ life expectancy is 55.4 years.

Rose Moremoholo

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