Family in Nyeri cancels event to celebrate life of a 136-year-old parent

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Mr. Julius Wanyondu keeps up with technology despite his advanced age and receives a call through a mobile phone. 

The outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic in the country and the subsequent measures put in place by the government has forced a family in Nyeri to cancel an annual event to celebrate the life of a 136-year-old man.

 Mr. Julius Wanyodu Gitonga’s family yesterday said they feared that the centenarian would be at risk of exposure to the virus and would not like to have about 15 people in attendance.

            The family from Weru village, Mukurwei-ni sub-county said they had been marking the event for the last ten years but had shelved it due Convid-19.

            According to his national Identity Card, Wanyondu was born in 1884 and he is still strong and healthy except for his failing hearing.

            Speaking at his home, the centenarian said he has lived for that long because of God’s favour, eating indigenous foods and being non-alcoholic and a nonsmoker.

            Though one has to speak louder to enable him hear, Wanyondu has an active mind and a rich history from colonialism, Mau Mau war, post-independence era and says he would vote for President Uhuru Kenyatta if an election is held today.

             “No thũre (President) Uhuru nȋ kũhe andũ akũrũ cȋrȋngi ngiri igiri omweri,” (I would vote for (President) Uhuru if an election was held today for giving old people two thousand shillings a month) Wanyondu said.

  He said as a young man, he was employed as a houseboy in Nairobi by an Indian to nurse his children adding he earned three shillings monthly.

            He later got a job with the East African Railways (now Kenya Railways) before returning home and engaged in coffee and dairy farming.

            The elderly man and perhaps one of the oldest living person on earth found love and married his first wife Muthoni Wairegi (deceased) with whom they were blessed with two children, a boy and a girl.

             The boy died and the girl, now an aged woman named Wamuyu is still alive and is in Kirinyaga County.

            Wanyondu later married his second wife Elizabeth Wanjiru (deceased) and they were blessed with eight (8) children but three (3) are now deceased.

  He warned the youth against consuming illicit brews but instead engage in meaningful activities to live long.

             Wanyondu enjoyed dancing Mugoiyo and Gichukia, Kikuyu traditional songs to entertain villagers.

            The PCEA faithful has all praises to God and prays to bless his children and visitors who had paid him a courtesy call.

              Wanyondu does not eat solid food but eats a traditional nutritious diet prepared by the family.

             His son, Jackson Gitonga, 76, said their father catered for their education and all other needs of the family.