[notice]A fortnightly column on marriage, family and relationships. With an eye on Heritage Day on Saturday September 24 Neziswa Kanju focuses on the senior citizens of our nation who have helped shaped our legacy — and still have more dreams to pursue.[/notice]
The older members in our families, our grandmothers and grandfathers, are often looked down upon and seen as being a distraction and a nuisance that need to be constantly taken care of.
Some are even sent to old age homes where their dreams wither away. Some resign themselves to this state of affairs and tell themselves that they have no further contribution to make society because they are old.
Can our older members of society really contribute to the wellbeing and to the development of a nation? Many people think not! There is a belief that once you reach a certain age you are supposed to retire. You are not expected to still be working but to be at home taking care of your house and “taking it easy”.
There are two ladies that have absolutely crashed this belief this year. Ans Botha trainer of Olympic 400m record holder Wayde van Niekerk, who at 74 went on to produce a champion. Botha who is originally from Namibia is a great grandmother who obviously does not believe in slowing down. At this year’s Olympics in Rio she was there to witness Van Niekerk breaking a record and making history. They both achieved. We salute this Namibian born grandmother.
Who would have guessed that the trainer of the beloved Wayde van Niekerk, the world champion who approached another sport icon Usain Bolt for advice, is trained by a granny?
The other grandmother who has captured the nation is the iconic Ndebele artist gogo Esther Mahlangu who has recently partnered with John Legend on an international campaign. John Legend is the well known and much beloved music legend who travels the world. Who would have guessed that our own grandmother would get to work with him?
These are two women in their later years. No different from your grandmother and mine. They come from two different cultures but yet they share the reality that both of them are living their dream — even in their old age.
They are still going after everything that life has for them. When approached they are not saying no to opportunities to serve but are out there living out their destinies — sharing their skills and heritage with the next generation. This is legacy!!!
With what our youth-idolising society preaches and the negative messages it sends to older people, I doubt that these grannies expected success at this stage in their lives — and yet here they are, changing history and still breaking new ground.
Nobody would have ever guessed that an old lady from South Africa would be part of an international campaign with an international music icon. It goes to show that if God has given you gifts He does not take them away.
If God has called you for a destiny and a purpose, if you are older and still breathing, God still expects you to carry out that purpose. You only have to look at the stories of Abraham and Sarah. Old age means nothing to God. He does not look at your physical limitations. Moses doubted his leadership qualities to speak for God, and to lead the nation of Israel, but God still used him. To this day Moses is a revered leader in Jewish history.
There are novels and poems that have been written by people in their older years. Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) founder Colonel Sanders achieved success in his sixties. There are countless stories of people achieving great things in their later years — moving nations forward, starting companies and making them profitable, starting churches and winning many to Christ and countless other things that people are continuing to do. You only need a belief that you can.
We look at frail human bodies with wrinkles and pass a judgement on them, that they cannot possibly do anything significant. Let us not look down on the elder members of our families but let us encourage them to still dream bigger dreams.
I speak to all of us. To the young, do not look down on your grand parents and see them as useless. To our mothers and fathers, we still need you. We need your wisdom. We need you to live out the purpose of God for your life.
If there is a book that you need to write, go ahead and write it. If there are songs that you need to release, distant lands that you want to explore — pursue them. That dream that you wanted to achieve, look at ways of how you can still make it a reality. Ask God to resurrect “dead dreams”. He is the Resurrection and the Life. God is able to bring it to pass and to bring life back into your life.
Where there is no vision the people perish — Proverbs 29:18. You need to have a vision for your life still. Look to the future with excitement and be confident that the One who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. He is able to bring you to a glorious finish.
We love you. We respect you and we need your contribution.