I have a particular interest in historic graves. They often tell a tale of an era long past in a way books can’t. But sometimes a grave from the modern era holds just as many stories. Such a grave I found in Somerset East, set back in the trees at the end of a lane next to the Somerset East Museum. This is the grave of Ouma Dora Dotyi Jacobs who at the time of her death at the ripe old age of 122 years, was the oldest living person in the world.
Ouma Dora was born 6 May 1880 on the farm Paddafontein in the Somerset East district. She was one of 8 siblings. She never went to school and spent most of her life as a laundress on farms. Her life was one of hard work, but with lots of friends, family, music, laughter and storytelling. The only medicine she can ever remember taking before starting on medication for high blood pressure when she was almost 100 was “versterkdruppels”. She never smoked nor drank any alcohol. For the last ten years of her life she was blind. Ouma Dora passed away on 18 January 2003 at the age of 122 years of age.
There is a photo with some information of Ouma Dora up in the museum. You will also have to ask the staff to open the gate through to the grave as the area is fenced off and locked.
Perhaps the recipy to a long life is the one Ouma Dora followed. Work hard work, love healty and enjoy life with friends, family, music, laughter and storytelling.