101 candles for storyteller gran

Shaanaaz de Jager

A GREAT-GRANDMOTHER of Addo with a knack for storytelling celebrates her 101st birthday today.

Maria Smith, who lives with her daughter Rachel Smith, 59, in Valencia, Addo was raised by her grandmother on a farm outside Somerset East.

Apart from being blind for the past 46 years and suffering from high blood pressure, Smith is still in good health.

She attributes her longevity to her love for God and not smoking or drinking.

When not busy kneading bread dough or peeling vegetables, she tells stories about the days before tractors, ploughing fields using donkeys and herding goats barefoot.

“I prefer to stay indoors, pray mornings and evenings and get regular visits from church members,” she said.

“I enjoy talking about growing up so my grandchildren and great-grandchildren know where I come from. Life wasn’t easy but I had fun.”

Rachel described her mother as a woman who “stays close to God”.

She said her mother had a “tough life” and worked as a housekeeper and cook for farmers. Her father, Eksteen, was a farm labourer.

“My mother still does needlework and sews buttons onto clothing. She loves to tell the children stories of when she grew up,” Rachel said.

Smith, a widow, had 11 children – four of whom have died.

The others live all across South Africa.

The family will have a prayer service today and have planned a dinner for June 15.

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