BY DANIEL EDYEGU
AT 92 years, Jefati Wanyenya is still an active man. The World War two veteran cooks, cleans his compound, digs and tells stories to his grandchildren at his home in Dibumbuni village, Bumasifwa sub county, in Sironko district.
â€œWhen I got born-again in 1976, I tried to convince my two wives to join me but they refused, so we split. Since then, I have been single and done the cooking and cleaning the house myself.â€
Month by month, he grows weaker. â€œEvery day, I feel the strength reducing and sight disappearing. The only solace I have is in my children and faith in God,â€ Wanyenya says.
Wanyenya, who retired as a nurse in 1946, sired 18 children and has lived long enough to see 101 grandchildren and 50 great grandchildren. He is one of the oldest people in Bumasifwa sub-county. Out of 13,540 people in Bumasifwa at the last census, 8.6% are aged 60 and above, which exceeds any other sub-county in Uganda.
Bumasifwa, located atop Tsekhulu, Zanzasi, bumagabula and Bunagani hills, has cool temperatures that make it barely possible to feel sunshine. The elderly in the sub-county attribute their longevity to a combination of factors.
Dinah Wetaka, a 68-year-old widow, says she has managed to live longer because she and her late husband always had ate natural foods. The area is well-known for a good yield of vegetables, beans, peas, irish potatoes, passion fruit and bananas.
â€œWe had the food the money, 10 children and all the happiness any couple would admire marriage. Now Iâ€™m lonely, but I continue to live with hope daily,â€ Wetakha said.
For Elijah Masha, 75, the secret lies in exercise. Every morning, he walks 2km and once in a while Masha walks 25km to Sironko town to see his children. He recalls that while at Bulago Primary School in Bumasifwa sub-county, he used to excel in athletics. He played football and did triple jump.
â€œI walk from Dibumbuni village to Sironko town council (about 25km) whenever I visit my children,â€ Masha explains.
Biira Naumbe, 89, also from Dibumbuni village, weeds her coffee and banana plantations and cuts grass to feed her exotic cow. Naumbe says her secret to living long lies in eating vegetables and non-fatty foods. â€œIn case it is meat, it has to be smoked and mixed with ground nut paste,â€ she said.
The Sironko district health officer, Dr. Peter Nabende, explained that residents live long due to the cool temperatures and the hilly terrain that encourage people to exercise. â€œIn such hilly areas, there are normally no reported cases of malaria that threaten the lives of the people. The people gather vegetables in the forest to cook and the frequent climbing of the hills strengthens their muscles,â€ Nabende said.