Retired midwife Khungiwe Sophia Kate-Cetu celebrated her 103rd birthday last Friday with loved ones in her Ngcakeni home.
The woman who is affectionately known as “Nesi”, which means nurse, was hailed for being a well known midwife in Grahamstown and was known to always carry a brown suitcase when going to help bring newborn babies into the world.
Daki Nkayi, a family friend, said that Kate-Cetu should consider herself a very blessed woman because back in the days when she still delivered babies, she was a well-known person: “She was so good at what she did, complete strangers, sometimes men, would come to fetch her at her house during odd hours.
“Anything could have happened to you – but it is amazing because you are still here with us,” she said.
Nkayi also spoke about Kate-Cetu’s remarkable and photographic memory in remembering the birthdays of those she helped bring into the world, along with how the weather was at the time.
“If you were delivered by Nesi then you will have a hard time lying about your age in her presence because she remembers each and every one of the babies she helped,” she joked.
Cetu’s oldest daughter, Nikiwe Cetu, 73, said one of the things that kept her mother going up to the this age was the fact that they always listened to her as a parent and tried their best to do good and not frustrate her.
“Children often frustrate their parents to a point where when they are old. They think of all the bad things that (we did) and the way we mishandled them and that stresses them out,” she said.
Nikiwe also mentioned that her mother does not believe in using muti for her ailments but would rather pray or go the doctor.
“One of my sisters, Zodwa, who is a teacher at the coloured area would also consult the ‘Vroedvrou’ within the area for medication,” she said.
Makana Mayor, Nomhle Gaga thanked Khungiwe for the role she played in Grahamstown and for being so courageous and sacrificing her safety in walking long distances to ensure safe births all around the town.
“You have brought so many people into the world. But not only that – you taught mothers how to bath and breastfeed their newborn babies and you prioritised their well-being, because in your day we would never hear of maternal or child deaths,” she said.
Cetu thanked everyone for coming to celebrate the special day with her.
“Maybe this is my last birthday – I don’t know – but I thank you for being with me and my children on this special day,” she said.