22 April 2019

Kenya: Traditional Foods Secret for Good Health, Granny, 120, Says

Turning 120 years was no small feat for Cianjoka Mucunku, who brought the usually quiet Kirege village in Tharaka-Nithi County to life with a colourful birthday celebration.

The elderly woman, who feeds on only Ameru traditional foods, could be among the world's oldest persons.

Embu University Vice Chancellor, Prof Daniel Mugendi, who is one of her grandchildren, says her national identity card indicates that she is 120 years old but adds that she could be older.

AGE GROUP

"The occurrences she recounts and her age group suggests that she could be more than 120 years old," said Prof Mugendi.

Cianjoka bore nine children, two boys and seven girls, but three have died, mostly due to old-age, while the rest are too old to do any farm work.

Her eldest granddaughter, Dr Charity Ciakuthii, is 64 years old.

Speaking during the ceremony, the jovial granny said she only eats Achuka foods such as yams, sweet potatoes, ugali made from millet flour and sugarless porridge.

GITHERI

She has also been eating githeri mixed with some traditional green vegetables which grow in the bushes near Mt Kenya Forest which is not very far from her home. But stopped eating it after losing most of her teeth.

Cianjoka said she had never experienced illnesses until she was too old to walk around when she started experiencing some joint pains.

"Our traditional foods were very good for good health unlike the junk foods which are being associated with cancer and high blood pressure," said Cianjoka.

The granny used the ceremony, which coincided with Easter celebrations, to pray for rain and an end to the prolonged drought.

She recalled several famines that hit the community resulting to suffering and even deaths of people and animals.

STAUNCH CHRISTIAN

Though Cianjoka does not attend church services due to her advanced age, she is a staunch Christian and brought up her family to be God-fearing.

She condemned the evils being witnessed in the society including lack of value for human life resulting to murder and suicides.

"People must love one another and respect lives as it's only God who should take a life at His right time," she insisted.

Dr Ciakuthi said though Cianjoka was not able to educate all her children, she has been a great motivation to all his grandchildren and great-grandchildren and that she follows up to know how each one of them is progressing academically.

"My grandmother is very passionate about education and has been our motivation," said Dr Ciakuthi.

Prof Mugendi said government needs to come up with a programme to recognise such senior citizens because those without supportive relatives cannot afford food and quality medical care.

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