"Old age is not defeat, but victory; not a punishment, but a privilege," said Cllr Ntsiki Mokhotho, MMC for Community and Social Development Services.
When people become more than 100 years old, they should be honoured. The fact that we live in a society that does not generally support people as they age and that does not address issues and opportunities for older persons should motivate us to celebrate our elderly.
Elders have always played an important role in society because they provide guidance on spiritual and community matters. The City of Tshwane celebrated the elderly on 10 October 2018 at Moreleta Park. To better understand how the role of the elderly in our society can change for the better, it is important to understand where we come from and where we want to be. The event explored some of the roles that the elderly have played throughout history in order to gain a better sense of the road towards an age-inclusive society.
Older black South Africans in particular often support and raise their grandchildren at a time in their lives when they should be enjoying their old age. "Having contributed to raising of grandchildren is certainly a privilege, and I know that many of us are proud of our grandchildren and our children," said Cllr Mokhotho. She added that this often comes at the expense of other opportunities that older persons should be enjoying, simply because the government and society do not provide adequate support.
The conception that the elderly cannot fend for themselves is false, as all around us we see the contribution of the elderly to communities: those raising their grandchildren, pensioners who continue to volunteer in a number of ways, and those who remain activists that champion the interest of the vulnerable and neglected.
Today, our elderly are able to participate in society more actively and also contribute intellectually at an advanced age. There is still work to be done. Hopefully, we can continue to progress towards becoming a society with a greater appreciation and respect for our elderly.