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Church leaders defy age

By Veronica Gwaze

The adage, “If wrinkles should be written upon your brow, let the shrink not be written upon your lifestyle – for the spirit should never grow old,” speaks to lot of senior church leaders who face the demanding service of dealing with people.

Mtumwa Paul Mwazha
Mtumwa Paul Mwazha

Still up and running are senior church leaders like Zimbabwe Assemblies  of God Africa’s Apostle Ezekiel Guti turning 96 this year, African Apostolic Church founder Mtumwa Paul Mwazha who will be clocking 101.

The Sunday Mail religion sought to find out how these revered leaders in Christian circles have managed to keep healthy and cope with the demand of ministry.

At his advanced age, Mutumwa Mwazha takes a walks around 10 am every morning in his Hatfield neighbourhood.

“Taking a walk every morning has become part of his everyday life now but when he was still able bodied he would jog and then add on light exercises.

“It is amazing how the old man still has so much energy at his age,” said Mr Alfred Mwazha, his second born son.

In the past 30 years, the African apostolic founder’s diet consists of small grain foods and fruits.

His meals are prepared separately from the entire household meal.

“Baba has a special diet which is why his meals are cooked in a separate pot. For the past 30 years or more, he survives on small grains and he loves his apples which has kept him going,” said the son.

In his entire life, Mutumwa Mwazha never drank alcohol and the son believes it is one of the things that has kept his father healthy.

He is also said to delegate some of the demanding responsibilities to his children and other members of the church to ensure he has little pressure.

“Baba distributed the church responsibilities to us and other senior members of the church so as to have less pressure.

“He has always tried to live a stress free life, which is why he is always jovial even at home, he has always been our friend and as we grew up he would tell us stories and preach to us while roasting maize during the evenings.

“Above all, I believe it is his faith that has kept him composed and alive to this age which is a special blessing to us,” he said.

At 90, Bethsaida Apostolic Church founder Archbishop Loveless Matarirano Manhango still possesses the energy to stand and preach for his congregants too.

The nonagenarian wakes up at four o’clock every morning to prepare for the day which he spends working at his farm in Chinhoyi.

He is an articulate man who ha no time for with slow- paced people.

“My entire life, I have been a farmer and farming has become part of my every weekday routine.

“I have not spent a day doing nothing at home, I believe working keeps one fit.

“For me, I exercise through toiling in the fields which I trust is the reason I neither suffer from blood pressure problems or any other problems that affect the aged,” he said.

Bishop Manhango is a horticulture farmer and has also pursued cattle ranching for more than fifty years.

In the morning he eats mealie-meal porridge and have a cup of tea. Later in the day he takes rice and meat with lots of water.

“From my understanding, red meat is not as healthier as white meat which is the reason for the past thirty years I survive on white meat and no alcohol.

“Despite having walked this worship journey for 67 years now, whenever I read God related material, I find something new which is the reason why I jot notes.

“A good preacher, just like a good journalist should be a wide reader, that way you keep your memory active which is very healthy as one ages,” said the old man with a chuckle.

Although he now supports himself with a walking aid, Bishop Manhango has no medically confirmed ailment.

Turning 84 this year, Hwedza born Zviratidzo Zvavapostori Bishop, Lamenck Chitope revealed that apart from being morally guided by the word of God, he sticks to regular exercise and a healthy diet.

“I have made it mandatory that I take a kilometre walk daily before going to work, even here at the office, I work from the fourth floor and I use the stairs daily.

“Since early 1970s, I prefer small grains so I eat sadza prepared from either rapoko, millet or sorghum with traditional dishes,” said Bishop Chitope.

Since childhood, the clergyman consistently takes a cold bath to keep fit.

At 108 years, United African Independent Apostolic church founder, Archbishop Zihohwa Motsi reckons sticking to a traditional diet and exercise has kept him in shape.

Based in Mt Darwin, the man of cloth said he has lived the greater part of his life farming.

At his age, although he cannot conduct laborious jobs anymore, he makes it to the fields daily where he supervises the manual workers.

“I used to consume alcohol but it has been more than 60 years now since I abandoned and to me that is a healthy decision because besides behaving waywardly when drunk, there are negative health effects.

“I go to the fields daily although I no longer work like before because of age but my eyesight is still very sharp and mostly I just supervise the workers,” he said.

Bishop Motsi believes a diet of traditional foods particularly brown rice with peanut butter, mahewu and wild meat keeps him healthy.

“Above all, I do not womanise, it destroys you physically and emotionally. I think that has contributed to this old age, I guess,” Archbishop Motsi chuckled. Sunday Mail.