NATION

Jone, 101, Longevity Linked To Life With Business Families

101-year-old Jone Vanunivaki attributes his longevity to his association with the business community on Raojibhai Patel St in Suva. As a young man, he remembers looking for a job and
15 Jan 2016 09:00
Jone, 101,  Longevity Linked To Life With Business Families
From left: Vijay Kumar, Yash Patel, Mohan Lal, Jone Vanunivaki, Ishwar Narayan and Matereti Baleiwai during Jone’s birthday celebration at Raojibhai Patel Street in Suva .Photo: Luisa Qiolevu.

101-year-old Jone Vanunivaki attributes his longevity to his association with the business community on Raojibhai Patel St in Suva.

As a young man, he remembers looking for a job and knocking on the door at D.N. Patel and Company Limited.

He was hired as a handyman and he became a trusted friend of the Patel family because of his loyalty and integrity, said Mohan Lal Patel.

Mr Patel is a descendant of the pioneers of the company.

“When there is a wedding or family event, Johny, as he was commonly called, would be the first person at the event, cooking.”

Jone had learned Indo-Fijian cuisine which is mainly vegetarian. He said this was one of the reasons for his good health. He does not drink alcohol or smoke but loves his kava (yaqona). He said the Patels and other business people taught him how to save money.

“I lived along this street ever since it was named the ‘Valenikarisini’ (before the World War II) then changed to Marks Lane and later to its current name Raojibhai Patel Street” he said.

“I lived alone all my life and everyone who works along this street knows me because I have called this place home for many years.

“I am thankful to the Lord Almighty for giving me a healthy life and for keeping me safe.

“I am surrounded with a lot of nice people who I have regarded as family because they have been with me for long and have helped me a lot and they would help me anytime I knock on their door.

“This does not mean that I do not visit my relatives; I sometimes do but I prefer to live with the Patel’s, Mahesh Syndicate, the Kalpana’s curry house owner and all those that live along this street as they are my family now and they have looked after me really well,” he said.

“I am so glad to have reached this age and to be feeling stronger and healthier,”  he said.

Mr Vanunivaki is originally from Sawaieke Village, Gau, Lomaiviti, and he turned 101 years old last Tuesday.

He attended Suva Methodist Boys School in the 1920’s before it was later named the Suva Methodist Primary School. He is known by many as Johnny Patel.

He is said to be the first iTaukei man to ever enter the Gujarati Temple in Patel Samaj Hall in Toorak because he is a vegetarian.

He lived alone at Jeidi’s Building at Raojibhai Patel Street in Suva and was a familiar face to the Patel family.

The building belonged to the Mangal Lal Brothers from Ba and he has never sought help from his close relatives or family.

When the Fiji Sun visited him; he gladly called out: “Au sa yabaki 101 nikua (I am 101 years old today) and I was born 12 January 1915,” with a smile on his face.

“Today I was showered with birthday gifts and from morning until now I have $800 cash given by nearly everyone who knows me on this street and I even have a birthday cake,” he said.

“I remembered that I voted for the Alliance Party and that was the first time I went for elections but I cannot remember the year.”

The owner of D.N Patel and Company Limited, Suresh Patel, said: “We wish him happy birthday and may he live a long and healthy life.”

 

Edited by Paula Tuvuki

Feedback:  luisa.qiolevu@fijisun.com.fj

 

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