Is South Africa home to the world’s oldest person?
Fredie Blom is old. Very old. Much older than you think someone could be. He’s 114 to be exact. That makes him possibly the oldest living person in the world. Blom was born in the Eastern Cape in 1904, long before television, planes, and even antibiotics were invented. What everyone else encounters between the pages of history, Blom has lived through. The sinking of the Titanic. The beginning and dissolution of both World Wars. The construction and tearing down of the Berlin Wall. The rise and fall of apartheid. Momentous occasions and eras of the past have come full circle, but Blom still stands.
In the small town of Delft in the Western Cape, Blom now lives with his wife of 40 years, Jeanette. They met while out dancing. “He likes to jive,” she says. Blom was already well into his 60s and still a ladies man, but this particular woman’s langarm skills caught his eye. The pair remained friends for a while before Blom realised he’d found the person he wanted to settle down with. Despite their 29-year age gap, there’s no distance in their love. But when Blom needs some time alone, he goes for walks before returning to chop firewood.
So what’s Blom’s secret to outliving everyone else? He doesn’t adhere to any particular diet, nor fitness regime. Quite the opposite in fact. At this age, his nimble fingers still roll his own tobacco. What’s another puff when you’ve lived a life as long as his? Blom’s only health concerns are a hearing problem and slight gait in his walk. His fun nature and sense of humour are still intact. “I’m a laaitie. I can still run,” Blom says. It’s unimaginable that after all these years, he’s still going strong. With a sprightly nature that belies the decades behind him, Blom shows what it means to live life to the fullest.