By ANDREW PHIRI-
ZAMBIA’S life expectancy has risen from 37 to 43 years in the recent past, partly due to various medical interventions.
There are, however, several factors which could be attributed to long life, the major one being God, who according to Christians chooses when to take one’s life.
While waiting for God’s time, Timothy Hatyoka celebrated his 100th birthday at Hamukanchali Village in Monze District Southern Province on July 7 2014.
The Anglican Church, where he was baptised in 1931, conducted a church service and a Holy Communion programme in honor of Mr Hatyoka’s 100th birthday.
The local people also celebrated Mr Hatyoka’s centenary through dancing and singing throughout the previous night.
Several village headmen, local people, his children, grand children, and great grand children among several others attended the celebrations.
In a sermon delivered during the birthday cerebrations, assistant Priest for Mapanza Parish Gift Kabubi described Mr Hatyoka as a shining example of a God fearing old man.
Father Reverend Kabubi said it was very rare and interesting in the modern days to find old people who were faithfully still worshipping God.
He said Mr Hatyoka, who was still able to walk properly, had managed to live for many years because of God’s grace adding that some people who were 70 years were unable to walk properly.
“When I heard that Mr Hatyoka was celebrating his 100 years, I initially thought that it was a lie as my age is below 50.
We thank God for preserving him to this far and may God bless you and add many years so that he can reach 110 years,” Rev Kabubi said
He said unlike the example of Mr Hatyoka, many old people in society did not have time to worship and serve God.
“Few old people who worship God worship Him properly compared to some of us who are young.
When you are young, you have so many appetites for worldly things such as money, girls and boys but when you are old, your concentration is on God and spiritual things,” Rev Kabubi said.
He also urged young people to avoid detaching themselves from old people as elderly people had more wisdom than younger ones.
“Let us follow the footsteps of Mr Hatyoka and connect ourselves to God. It is my prayer that God will add more years to Mr Hatyoka and give him good health and bless his entire family.
This is a great testimony and God deserved to be worshipped and praised. Let us get connected to God who is a source of life so that we live longer like Mr Hatyoka,” he said.
Rev Kabubi said that people were dying at the ages of 30 and 40 mainly because of their appetite for worldly things.
In terms of his family background, Mr Hatyoka’s late father, Jakalasi Chikale, and his late mother, Mukamuyaba Chikale, were born in the 1,800 within Chief Monze’s area and they were buried in Hambalamatu Village.
He was born in 1914 in Mailos Farm although he could not recall the exact day and month due to the fact that his parents were not educated to record the birthday details while there were no National Registration
Cards around that time.
A certain Whiteman, who was nicknamed as Hatyoka by the local people because of limping since the locals could not pronounce his actual names, helped to determine the year when he was born
The Whiteman, who was working for the Northern Rhodesia Government around 1938 and distributing relief maize around that time, examined a group of youths and asked them questions which pointed to the year
they were born.
Later, Timothy adopted the name of Hatyoka in honor of the nicknamed Whiteman who helped to determine his age.
Timothy Hatyoka, who is currently married to Elizabeth, has 19 children from seven different mothers out of which 10 are still surviving and nine are dead.
He has more than 50 grandchildren and as more than 20 great grand children and great great grand children.
His first born child Miriam, who is still surviving and currently lives in Lusaka West, was born in 1940.
In terms of his education, Mr Hatyoka started his Standards one at Hamukanchali Primary School in 1926 within Monze District.
He then went to St Dominics in Mapanza area and later went to St Marks Secondary School where he was one of the first pupils to be enrolled.
“This School was built in my eyes. I remember that we only had two classes in Standard three between 1932 and 1936.
After that, a letter came and I went to Mazabuka where I studies agricultural courses around 1938,” he said.
While studying Agricultural Courses in Mazabuka, he recalls among other subjects that he was taught on how to sow cotton and maize
After completing his studies, he started working for the Northern Rhodesian Government in Mapanza as an agricultural assistant.
In 1944, when his second born child late John was born in Mapanza, he was already doing demonstration fields for agriculture
He later moved to Kanchomba Agricultural Institute in 1949 where he was promoted as senior agriculture assistant.
He later went back to Mapanza where the Government then asked him to put up agricultural camps in Mapanza.
Mr Hatyoka was in charge of various camps from Mapanza through to Masuku and Macha in Choma District where he used to teach farmers on how plant maize, rice, Colton, sorghum and several other crops.
In 1949, his elder brother by the name of Hamukanchali, who was the village headman around that time, was sick and was taken to the Hospital in Livingstone where his leg was amputated.
When Government officials came, they discovered that his brother was helpless and could not function as headman for Hamukanchali Village and they asked Mr Hatyoka to take over as village headman.
“At that time, I was working in Government in Mapanza as senior agricultural assistant and my salary was 12 British Pounds
I finally left my Government job in 1949 and became a village headman for Hamukanchali Village,” he said.
Hamukanchali Village was covering two chiefdoms of Chief Mapanza and Chief Monze but it was only separated to become part of Chief Monze in 1953 and that was how Mr Hatyoka moved to the separated side
He used to be senior headman before the chiefdoms were separated but he became an ordinary headman when the chiefdoms were separated.
Later, Chief Monze recognised him again and gave him the status of senior headman in the year 2000.
Mr Hatyoka is currently a senior headman for six villages namely Hachiyobeka, Hamukanchali, Munakapongo, Lwiindi, Mweene and Makondo.
When asked on the secret of living longer, Mr Hatyoka attributed it to God’s grace as well as to his good eating habits and lifestyle behaviour.’
He regularly drinks tea since 1940 but he neither eats meat, drink beer, nor also smoke.
“My advice to Zambians is that they should eat proper foods and avoid smoking and drinking beer if they want to live long.
Most importantly, Zambians should worship God because. He is the creator and the one who gives life,” Hatyoka said.
He also urged Zambians to work hard and ensure to grow enough food as they celebrate 50 years of independence this year.
“I am aware that there challenges in the agricultural sector these days compared to the days before independence.
Most farmers do not have farming inputs these days. For instance, I used to make 700 to 900 bags of maize many years ago and I was able buy tractors for my farming but I am unable to do so today,” he said.
On how he wants to be remembered when he dies, Mr Hatyoka said he was a person who firmly believes in God, so he wants the Anglican Church to conduct a church service when he dies.
He thanked God for giving him strength and life for 100 years when many of his age mates were dead, adding that he would continue worshipping God till his death.
“I am church person and I want people to remember me in a Godly manner. I belong to Anglican Church and I strongly believe in God.
Let the Church remember me through worshiping God. I started worshiping in the Anglican Church in 1926 and I have continued worshiping for more than 88 years now,” Hatyoka said
He said his children, grand children and great grand children should remember him through his hard work, Godly path as well as good eating habits and living a healthy lifestyle among others.
“I want to work together with my children before. Already, they are the ones who are taking care of me now,” he said.
Mr Hatyoka also urged Zambians to avoid early marriages and unnatural sexual acts if they were to live longer.
“During our days, we never used to have them and we could only marry when we had beards.
We also never used to have cases of defilement and cases of people sleeping with animals and homosexuals,” he said.
He noted that cases of illegal marriages, co-habiting and impregnating a woman before marriage was a taboo then.
“We must avoid these wrong things because they are bringing problems to the country.
Mr Hatyoka advised people to work hard to earn a living.
He said people should be mindful of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS.
Mr Hatyoka said it was a sad in the modern days to see young unmarried boy
contracting HIV or another sexually transmitted disease because of their unfaithfulness.
“Look at me, I still look healthy, and I have never been sick nor given an injection. I only get sick with other illnesses not those which are sexually transmitted,” he said.
Mr Hatyoka urged the Government to provide adequate fertiliser, seeds and other facilities to boost the agricultural sector and ultimately empower elderly people like him.
He also commended the Patriotic Front Government for establishing a Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs.
“Establishing a Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs is a good decision and a step in the right direction.
We want chiefs in Zambia to be respected so that the country moves together like in the olden days when we never used to have many problems that we have today
These days, elderly people are always accused of being wizards which we never had during our early days,” he said.
Mr Hatyoka said if his life was reversed to a tender age, he would still do what he used to love much such as farming as well as living healthy and avoid fighting with other people.
“Let young ones respect elderly people and ask us the way we used to live so that they live better lives.
Further, girls should ensure that they get married at the age of 25 and above years as that is an appropriate range for one to understand marriage,” he said
Several headmen, who also attended the 100th birthday celebrations, eulogised Hatyoka for being a good leader for many years.
Headman Lwiindi said God had given Mr Hatyoka wisdom which made him rule for 65 years to-date as village headman.
“I only have 58 years but God is leading Mr Hatyoka well for many years and I have not seen any problem with his leadership.
If there was a problem, people would have left the village. We need to love God with all our heart and love our neighbour as we love ourselves for us to live longer,” he said.
Headman Lwiindi said Mr Hatyoka was working well six headmen under him and that he lived longer because of his good works.
Senior headman Sikapola said Mr Hatyoka was a distinguished old man whose lifestyle was a shining example to many.
“I am a nephew to Mr Hatyoka and I grew up in his house in the 1940s and I never heard of any problem with him,” he said.
Headman Sikapola recalls that in 1953 when village boundaries were put, Hatyoka’s portion which remained in Mapanza area was given to him and hence he was still the senior headman to date.
“I am also following the footsteps of my uncle and I have also learnt how to work hard like him.
Senior headman Monze said Mr Hatyoka lived well with other people and he was never seen troubling other people
He said most people were dying at the age of 50 years because of beer drinking, smoking and stealing.
“But this man Hatyoka doesn’t engage in all these evil things and there is nothing I can accuse him,” he said.
Indeed young people and citizens are lucky to have elderly people like Mr Hatyoka who are able to counsel them on how to live better lives.