Aunty Annie celebrates 110th birthday

Napoleon Delport, 88, left, the brother of Johanna Adonis, middle, and Jean Adonis, right, were among those who came to celebrate her 110th birthday.

While Johanna Adonis’ verbal communication is not what it used to be, it was clear that she appreciated all the attention she received on Saturday August 5, when family and friends gathered to celebrate her 110th birthday.

The Belgravia Estate resident is better known as Aunty Annie.

Her nephew, Edward Johannes, said celebrating her birthday has become like an institution for the parishioners of St George’s Anglican Church in Silvertown, as they have been doing it for the past 40 years.

Mr Johannes said her long life did not come as a surprise to him.

“Aunty Annie is a mother, aunt, and protector, among others. She was just always there for us. She was always our rock – a tough cookie. We grew up in hard times. Things were tough. We had few choices in life, and it was easy to become a school drop-out. Where my mother was the soft natured one, Aunty Annie was the one with the firm hand. Many times she chased me away when I was loitering on the corner. I am what I am today, because of her input,” Mr Johannes said.

Vivienne Barrish, a lay minister at St George’s Church, visits Aunty Annie twice a month to give her holy communion.

“It is a privilege to give her communion. I used to do it once a month, but then she said that was too little, so now I come twice a month. She always shares her wisdom with me and I am always blessed in her presence,” Ms Barrish said.

AuntyAnnie’syoungest brother and only surviving sibling, Napoleon Delport, 88, said it was because of her and their late sister, Maria, that he made a success of his life.

“We grew up on a farm in Greyton. I dropped out of school, because I was a 14-year-old in Standard 5 (Grade 7), and was teased a lot about that. I then looked after our father’s sheep.

“One Easter my sisters came to visit at home, and they said I cannot be doing that with my life. They brought me to Cape Town, and at the age of 15, I got my first job with the council. At 17, I got my driver’s licence, and I used to drive a big truck. Some of my older colleagues teased me about that – saying I was wearing a short pants because I am still a boy, but I drive these huge trucks. After 10 and a half years in this job, I went to Bible College and became a pastor,” Mr Johannes said.

Aunty Annie was a good singer, and she loved singing solo hymns such as Have thine own Way, and Love Divine – all love excelling, especially on her birthday.

Reverend Joshua Louw, said the church was blessed to have Aunty Annie present at the church’s 100th anniversary celebration.

“She is amazing. We were so blessed to have Aunty Annie there to usher the church into its 100th year. She is so steadfast in the Lord. She gives us hope, especially with the future challenges we might face. If she can do it, then so can we,” Reverend Louw said.

Ms Adonis moved to Cape Town when she was 16 years old, and worked as a domestic worker in Sea Point, and lived in Tramway Road at the time. When she got married to Edward Adonis, the couple moved to Hope Street in Cape Town, and one year later, they moved to Athlone, in 1930.

In 1953, at the age of 52, Mr Adonis died. Ms Adonis lived alone in her Kewtown flat, up until the age of 92, but her family felt it was too risky for her to live alone, and she moved to her niece’s home in Belgravia Estate.

She was one of the six founder members of the Anglican Women’s Fellowship (AWF) at St George’s Church.

Although she is not able to do the things she used to do, Ms Adonis remains a staunch member of the AWF.

She used to be one of the sought-after bakers at any St George’s parish function.

Ms Adonis had no children of her own, but she has a big extended family.