Brooklyn woman celebrates 114th birthday

From left, Fatima Richards, Mariam Ebrahim and Marina Getsman

Mariam Ebrahim, of Brooklyn, who celebrated her 114th birthday on Thursday July 28, said she stays young at heart by watching TV series, and she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Born in 1908, Ms Ebrahim is originally from Masvingo (formerly Fort Victoria), in Zimbabwe, and she first came to South Africa in 2003 to be with her family here.

While she is fluent in Shona, her mother tongue, she cannot speak English and only has a basic grasp of the language, so her daughter, Fatima Richards, 71, acted as an interpreter when Tabletalk visited.

Ms Richards said her mom’s secret to longevity was maintaining a healthy lifestyle, eating a lot of vegetables and staying away from fatty foods.

“My mom did not like the idea of having margarine on her bread, and as for us, she would constantly remind us that we needed to spread it thinly when making a sandwich,” Ms Richards said.

Her mother was a woman who took all stressful situations in her stride, she added.

“My father died in 1963, when I was only 11 years old, and even after he died my mother still carried herself well.”

Ms Ebrahim has three children; one girl and two boys. She has eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. She has outlived her two sisters and three bothers, who, according to her, all lived to over 90.

She never attended school but was good at farming, as she planted maize and rice back in Zimbabwe, and, up until two years ago, she was still fit enough to clean the yard and wash the dishes, said her daughter.

Ms Richards said her mother wasn’t ever big on parties but she enjoyed having her family around and talking to her carer, Mirina Getsman.