As my colleague (Wendy Girven) and I exit the car, leaving behind the comfort of an airconditioning system which has become a standard feature of these modern cars, we are greeted by the almost unbearable sweltering heat upon touching the ground.
We are in KwaNyuswa, this is where the majestic Valley of a Thousands Hills are found. But we are not here for sightseeing this morning. We are here to meet gogos (grannies) who have set the beautiful game (football) on fire! Some are already here, not perturbed by the scorching sun. In fact, they are working out on the outdoor gym equipment sponsored by the sugar industry.
The outdoor gym in this part of the world is making a huge difference. We are in awe of these senior citizens who, with their incredible agility and fitness levels, would put some young people to shame! It is a marvel to behold – never in my life have I seen rural grandmas with such athleticism and zeal for keeping fit and healthy. The competitive part of me whispered into my ear, “Why don’t you challenge them and show them what you are made of?” The rational part of me stopped me in my tracks: “Don’t you dare embarrass yourself… against gogos nogal”.
It is time for gogos to practise for their upcoming major event, dubbed the “Gogolympics” (which includes soccer and other games), and happens on an annual basis in April. These grannies form part of the Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust’s 58 Gogo Support Groups involving over 2000 gogos across eight communities in KwaNyuswa. In addition to their weekly support group meetings, the gogos come together weekly to participate in a variety of sporting and outdoor activities.
Their coach says they must form two parallel lines, and they willingly oblige. She demonstrates how the exercise should unfold. They carry out with ease and unfeigned enthusiasm. The coach puts them through their paces. You see, if it were me doing these exercises, I would have called for time-out within minutes and asked for water. Not to mention running out of breath. But these gogos make it look so easy, like some walk in the park. All my colleague and I could do is to capture the captivating moments.