Sophia Wilmiena Ferreira, who turns 100 today, Wednesday July 8, and who had lived through World War II and survived the Spanish flu pandemic, said “Covid-19 is nothing compared to what they went through.”
The Steenberg resident, who under lockdown regulations is restricted from celebrating her century, leaves a trail of interesting milestones as she “lived up to her first names, Sophia Wilmiena, meaning desire and helm,” said her granddaughter Mercia du Plessis.
Her granny used to be a “cheeky woman, however, she has become very serene as she got older”, she says.
Ms Ferreira was born in Diep River, then she moved to Kalk Bay where she worked as a chef in hotels such as Majestic, Chartfield, New Kings and Calders.
She was the second eldest of 10 children – she and her two brothers, Freddy and Henry, are the only surviving siblings.
Ms Du Plessis said her granny looked after all her siblings when they were growing up.
Ms Ferreira’s sister May, passed on at the age of 101, two years ago. “The two of them were inseparable,” said Ms Du Plessis.
She met both her first and second husbands, Nicolas Jacobs and Gustav Ferreira, in Kalk Bay. “The one was a fisherman and the other one owned the café on the harbour in Kalk Bay. Both of them passed away more than 40 years ago,” said Ms Du Plessis.
Ms Ferreira gave birth to three daughters, Marie, 78 and Elizabeth, 82, both still alive, and Janet who would have been 60 years old but tragically died a few years ago.
During the Group Areas Act she moved to Steenberg where she stayed with her son Peter Jacobs who would have been 80 years old but he passed on three years ago.
Ms Ferreira then moved to her daughter Marie in Steenberg and is cared for by her grandson Alistair and his wife Firghaana Boltman.
Ms Du Plessis said her granny adores all her grandchildren and in her spare time, she used to enjoy taking them for long walks and swimming.
“My grandmother has 17 grandchildren, 43 great-grandchildren and 31 great great-grandchildren, most of whom live overseas.”
Her hobbies are cooking, baking, knitting (which she still does), and she loves reading her weekly Southern Mail and the You magazine. “She also loves gardening,” said Ms Du Plessis.
While still of sound mind, Ms Ferreira has lost her hearing and she has breast cancer. “However, she believes that she does not have it any longer,” said Ms Du Plessis.
Ms Ferreira had a colourful history as a chef. “My granny owned the fish shop on Kalk Bay Harbour (Kalkies) and was well-known for making a fish batter. The Kalk Bay community are closely knitted, and they were all treated like family.”
Ms Ferreira is also very proud of her Kalk Bay heritage and she was “very instrumental” in arranging the New Year’s Eve langarm dances at the Holy Trinity Church, which she is a member of, to raise funds. “She loved dancing as well,” said Ms Du Plessis.
She described her granny as a woman with “good posture, she loved dressing up and wore the most expensive shoes and only bought them at exclusive shops.”
Ms Du Plessis said Ms Ferreira exemplified cleanliness, and “she maintained that hard work never killed anyone. She also believes in honesty and she always says she doesn’t like anyone to tell lies. She would scare her great-grandchildren by saying she can look you in the face and see when you’re lying.”
Her famous sayings are “Never in your life” and “That will be the day”.
Although her milestone birthday will be celebrated by her family who will be forming a chain opposite her house to sing “Happy Birthday” to her, Ms Du Plessis said they are hoping to have a proper celebration once lockdown is lifted.