Aunty Zennie, 100, shares her youthful secret

It was a large family affair when Eastwood’s grand old lady Mari Angelia Camp, celebrated her centenary year in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday, drawing looks of admiration for her age-defying habits.

Popularly known to those in the Fitzsimmons Road area of Pietermaritzburg as “Aunty Zennie”, Camp was four days old when the Titanic sank on her maiden voyage on April 14, 1912.

FIVE GENERATIONS: Mari Angelia Camp (seated) celebrated her 100th birthday at the weekend. With her are family, from left: daughter Theresa Blessie, granddaughter Vivian Hillman, great-granddaughter Terry-Anne Hillman, as well as great-great-granddaughter Adriana Hillman. Picture: Shan Pillay. Credit: INLSA

Dressed in their best outfits, her 10 children, 42 grandchildren, 93 great-grandchildren and 26 great-great-grandchildren gathered at Marian Hall to sing “Happy Birthday” and hear her reminisce about the good – and bad – old days.

“I am 58 years old and cannot read without reading glasses, but my mother still reads the newspaper without glasses,” said daughter Estelle Camp.

“She does not have any illnesses like diabetes or hypertension, and she still wants to get into the kitchen to cook a good meal for her family.”

Camp was born in Mauritius on April 10, 1912, according to her identity document, and came to South Africa when still a baby. She spent her childhood in Calcutta Lane at the bottom end of the city, attending school at St Anthony’s Catholic Mission School.

Later she became a dressmaker, specialising in bridal wear.

She later met and married a tradesman Solomon Camp, and for 55 years they lived in Ash Road, where they raised 12 children – seven boys and five girls.

One son, Leslie (now deceased), became a professional soccer player for Lincoln City during the heyday of the South African Soccer League.

Another son Gerald, who had also played for Lincoln City, said on Monday: “When my father died in the 80s, my mother became a father and mother to her family.”

Asked about the secret to her longevity, Camp said: “In the days gone by we grew our own vegetables, raised our own chickens and ate a lot of fruit. I didn’t smoke or drink.” - Daily News