GOGO Jovita Mthabela from KwaSanti in the west of Durban opened her home and accommodated five of her relatives’ children whom she raised as her own.
Her 90th birthday, organised by her family members as their token of appreciation, was celebrated with delicious meals, worship and praise.
Her grandson, Mthoko Shezi (32), said gogo Jovita was one of the rare women who had an inspiring history.
“She is a source of courage to other women in the area. She raised our parents and loved them unconditionally. She passed on her sewing skills to hundreds of women in the area who had no source of income back in the years,” he said.
Sharing her history with the SunTeam, the jovial gogo said she married her late husband Robert Mthabela in 1950 when she was only 22 years old.
“God never blessed us with children and we did not find out what exactly was the problem. I accommodated my relatives’ children after 12 years of marriage,” she said.
Gogo continued, saying that she stayed with the children even after her husband’s death in 1989.
“I love my family. It has always been my wish to celebrate my 90th birthday and I am so grateful that my children made it come true,” she said.
Apart from keeping her family together, gogo’s role in empowering women in the community was significant. “Hundreds of women who inherited sewing skills from her are now breadwinners in their families,” said a neighbour, Thoko Mazibuko (51).