100 years old and still best friends

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IOL st mainold friends372.JPG THE STAR Johanna Evelyn Williams, also known as Ouma Tielie, right, with her friend of 80 years, Sarah van Schalkwyk, better known as Ouma Settie - are both 100 years old. Photo: Itumeleng English

Johannesburg - Ouma Settie and Ouma Tielie have been alive for 100 years, and have spent 80 of those years as best friends.

They were born in the same month, married in the same year and each had nine children. They also share an equal love for going to church and attending funerals.

“Me and Settie were never apart, we’re like sisters me and Settie,” said Ouma Tielie, gesturing at her friend, who was fast asleep on the couch.

Although the pair’s lives are intricately connected, they are polar opposites in personality.

Ouma Settie is quiet and sturdy in her stare, while Ouma Tielie chatters away, telling old stories and interrupts her talking with impromptu singing.

The pair became friends when their families were living in Kliptown in 1932. When Settie married Tielie’s cousin six years later, they became family.

“My mom and her mom knew each other, so her mom invited me to visit their farm and we became close,” Ouma Tielie said excitedly in her high-pitched voice.

“I don’t forget nothing, my memory is too good.”

Ouma Tielie - real name Johanna Williams (née Smith) - was born on May 8 in Bethulie, Free State, and Ouma Settie - Sarah van Schalkwyk (née Steyn) - was born on May 30 on Lemoen Farm near Fochville.

“I was a washing girl all my life and Settie was working in the factory,” said Ouma Tielie.

“We used to like to go to funerals, sometimes three funerals a day. She was like my sister.”

Ouma Tielie continued to tell of how Ouma Settie pulled her out of a muddy stream when she got stuck and how scared they were to be late for church. Some stories she likes so much, she repeats them three times.

Although Ouma Settie is bedridden, eats very little and sleeps most of the day, Ouma Tielie still goes to church twice a week, has a healthy appetite and picks out her clothes for the day.

Between them the two have 36 grandchildren, 74 great-grandchildren and 22 great-great-grandchildren. They are both widows.

In honour of their friendship, the extended family are holding a birthday celebration at the Don Mateman Hall in Eldorado Park on Saturday.

“We’re happy about it! I’m gonna sing!” Ouma Tielie said, and she slowly got up, walked to the centre of the room and began singing the song she had prepared while starting to dance.

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The Star


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