By Owen Nyaka:
Food is any substance which when eaten it promotes growth, can promote production of tissues, provides energy, and maintenance of body parts and sustains life but for Frank Mzikaola, a man who has turn hundred and ten (110) years and his 94 years-old wife; an adequate, well balanced diet combined with regular physical activity has been a cornerstone of their good health.
Born on 5th March, 1912, Gogo Frank Mzikaola alongside his wife Anaphiri born on 6th July 1928 are enjoying good health at their Galamuka village, Traditional Authority Kalonga in Salima district. The couple lifestyle is an inspiration to numerous people and motivates several people in their community.
The couple’s nutrition status is good and at their ages 110 and 94 they do have all the teeth’s and they can chew (kujegweda) a borne of meat which is a good source of proteins.
One interesting thing about the couple is that they do like many plant foods used as vegetables including indigenous leaves in raw and boiled forms. Vegetables are a good source of vitamin A which promotes good site and neither Anaphiri nor her husband uses eyeglasses.
On top of good nutrition, the couple also does house hold chores on their own such as cooking, sweeping, farming their garden and fetching water. On Sundays, as both members of Chigwirizano they also keep themselves fit by walking to and from Chikuluti Central Church for African Presbytery where they worship God.
“God is mysterious God. My wife and I, we are alive today because our guardian angel has been protecting us all the way. As you can see, I am fit and last of last year I was able to dig in my maize garden but last year I did not farm on my own because these days I have problems of backache,” says Gogo Mzikaola – a man who follows current affairs and he casted his vote during the Presidential Election re-run.
Gogo Mzikaola says in their family they were nine children, five men and four women but all of them died long time ago. When asked his secrete how he survived he said, “God is the only person that gives life but individually everyone should take care of his or her own life.
“It is strange that others especially the youth of today instead of having good nutrition they are busy taking their lives by excessive drinking on nkalabongo or anjilinjiri and smoking, these have no benefits to one’s nutrition status.”
“Ever since in my life I have never smoke nor drink any alcohol. I stopped drinking anything in glass bottle for fear of being cheated. Some people are cruel, they can give you a bottled drink claiming it is a soft drink while it is not,” he said.
He said they used to eat wild fruits such as Matowo, Phimphya, Nthudza, Maye, Malambe, Mpungulira, Matondo and wild vegetables such as Kolakola, Luni, Chidede and Bowa amongst others and he feels that these have contributed to his good nutrition.
Gogo Mzikaola did his Dutch education system during when Malawi was Nyasaland protectorate. He did class one up to four and later he realized that he has grown up and on 10th October 1939 when he was 27years he got married.
In his first marriage, he had three children but both deceased. Five years after his first marriage the first wife died as well on 16th June 1944 and three months later he re-married on 10th October, 1994 and he has been living with the same woman up to date.
He did not face the famous 1949 hunger because at that time he was in Northern Rhodesia now Zimbabwe and for him to return to Malawi it was like drama.
He was cheated that his wife died and upon return his relatives told him that they wanted him to settle in their village.
Nutritional experts says adequate nutrition throughout the lifecycle is the centerpiece for every individual’s physical and intellectual development since nutrition is a key determinant of one’s intellectual performance, academic and professional achievements, and overall work productivity.
Nutrition is fundamental for socioeconomic growth and development of any country as such, the Government of Malawi (GoM) has identified good nutrition as a key priority in its national development agenda articulated in the Malawi Growth Development Strategy 3.
To operationalize the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy 2, the GoM developed a comprehensive National Multi-Sector Policy and Strategic Plan 2018 – 2022 which incorporates emerging issues such as diet-related, non-communicable diseases. Additionally, the GoM is developing the food and nutrition legislation to support implementation of the National Multi-Sector Nutrition Policy (NMNP).
CISANET Program Manager Lovemore Mtsitsi said it is worth noting that the country is making considerable strides in improving indicators of nutrition as evidenced by the reduction in prevalence of stunting from 47 percent in the year 2010 to 37 percent in 2016, and reduction in vitamin A deficiency from 22 percent in 2009 to 3.6 percent in 2016, among other achievements.
He said the strides made require continued investment through the integration of nutrition in various areas such as maternal, infant and young child nutrition, and food and dietary diversity.
“Most of the nutrition challenges that Malawi is facing emanate from well-known underlying causes, including lack of knowledge, which leads to poor food processing and poor utilization. We should all take a leaf of Gogo Mzikaola and become champions of good nutrition – an adequate, well balanced diet combined with regular physical activity is a cornerstone of good health to everyone,” says Mtsitsi.
He said as CSANET and other stakeholders they are working hand in hand with the Department of Nutrition, HIV and AIDS on ‘The Food and Nutrition Bill’ so that it should be enacted into Law.
The Bill, is important in advancing food and nutrition issues in the country because in part the Bill is promoting people’s right to food and nutrition and one of the missing jerks is that as a country we adhere to international reset standards and that Malawians should have access to food and nutrition. The Bill is also safeguarding the lives of common person like Gogo Mzikaola in terms of the kind of food accessing from the private sector.
Poor nutrition can lead to reduce immunity, increased susceptibility to disease, impaired physical and mental development, and reduced productivity but for a Man to turn 110 years and his wife turning 94 years it is clear evidence that an adequate, well balanced diet combined with regular physical activity has been a cornerstone of the couple’s good health.