|At 100 years old, age is just a number|
|Saturday, 18 August 2012 00:00|
IG: On Tuesday August 21 2012 you will celebrate your 100th birthday. How does it feel?
WG: Great. Very, very great! I hope I will get there . . . (laughs). My family and friends are throwing a party at the Royal Harare Golf Club for me. I have been playing golf there for decades. In fact, I am now a life member of the Royal Harare Golf Club. I am not a professional golfer but I enjoy the game.
IG: What is the secret of living longer?
WG: Well, well, well . . . that is a very difficult question. Anyway, I do everything in moderation . . . drinking, eating and exercising. Nothing too much! You see I can still walk up straight. Keep fit. Keep your nose off anything that might cause problems for you. I eat porridge, oats, I choose very carefully. I have one drink a day, sometimes a beer or wine. That is it. But mainly one should keep out of trouble as much as possible. But for all that has happened to me, I thank God for being the architect of my life.
IG: Who else has lived longer in your family?
WG: My father died at 95, my brother at 95 as well, and my mother at 93. There is good life in Zimbabwe and I will not leave Zimbabwe. Things are never too bad.
IG: When did you start playing golf?
WG: Well, I hit my first hole in 1927. I hope to hit my last hole two days after my 100th birthday, on Thursday. They are arranging that for me. Until the age of 93, I still played the full 18 holes. While there are many elderly golfers in Zimbabwe and around the world, it needs the will-power — especially at about 100 — unwind the clock and assume you are still in your teens or 20s, then swing a powerful shot.
IG: A hundred years is too long. Who is William Green?
WG: I was born on July 21 1912 in Scotland. I developed an interest in gold and I used to caddy for then United Kingdom coalition Prime Minister James Ramsay MacDonald in 1926. He came from my neighbouring village. In 1927 I started playing golf myself. 1927 is also when I came to Zimbabwe, then Rhodesia, when I had just matriculated, because my brother had moved here.
IG: Before we go further, is it true that you entered the Guinea's Book of Records?
WG: I am the oldest man who dared stand on top of an aircraft and be flown. I entered Guinea's Book of Records for being the oldest pilot to complete a Wing Walk at the age of 88. I achieved that at the age of 88 years, 10 months and seven day to be precise. That was at Border Aman Club in East London. I am a former Second World War Pilot who survived a plane crash in the Libyan Desert while fighting for Britain.
IG: How did you feel doing a Wing Walk at 88?
WG: It was different from 1941, when I leant to fly. It was dangerous for an old man but when you get used to something, you certainly ignore its dangers and risks.
IG: Back to your stay in Zimbabwe?
WG: Okay. I joined The Herald the same year in 1927 as a printing apprentice. When I joined The Herald, there was a strike. Typographers had joined the National Rail Workers Association and gone on strike but we had to make things work.
In those days apprentices were very serious, a full five years before one became a journeyman printer or compositor. I was among the group of staff that moved into the second Herald House, when The Herald moved from the kopje at the corner of Jason Moyo (then Stanley Avenue) and Second Street (Now Sam Nujoma). It was the Imperial Hotel, razed it to the ground and rebuilt. Six years after entering Herald House I became a foreman but later left.
IG: What had happened?
WG: I wanted to do my own thing. In 1937 I started Oxford Press were I printed commercial material and two magazines Outpost and the first Shona magazine Mapurisa. We had to cut special characters to be able to print in Shona. But then the Second World War broke out and as new boy in the business, I had no paper and I had to sell to The Herald. That time there was no printing paper being manufactured in Africa.
IG: You fought in the Second World War?
WG: I joined the Royal Air Force and got trained as a navigator and went off to fight. I was a bomber crew. I went to Egypt by sea and from there to Libya where I fought. One day I was sitting in the house and we had a crash and I was the only one injured. It was just a minor twist.
IG: Where did you go after the war?
WG: I came back to Zimbabwe and rejoined The Herald, this time as a sales manager and I helped move the printing press to Southerton where we teamed up with Imperial Tobacco to establish Mardon Printers, now Natprint.
I was also transferred to Mutare, then Umtali, where I changed the name of the newspaper there from Umtali Post to Manica Post. I then retired, thereafter.
But I was to be brought back again, to buy Citizen Press, which had been allowed to buy four colour presses. I moved these to Herald House and started printing the first colour section of The Sunday Mail supplement. I then retired for good, towards independence.
IG: What have you been doing ever since your retirement?
WG: Playing golf and helping people. In fact, I exercise everyday, waking up at 6.30 am. Prior to my retirement I had become a Rotarian and was president of the Rotary Club for more than 40 years where I helped assist Jairos Jiri. While I was still at The Herald I used my influence to employ many blind and handicapped people from Jairos Jiri. At the age of 90, I played gold for charity to raise money for upcoming black golfers in Zimbabwe. I have never stopped working for the people. Right now I want to help Jairos Jiri Association improve.
IG: What is your message to the world?
WG: We must work for the improvement of others. We must not think of money all the time. We must be good to others and we owe everything to God. I wish to continue working for the people, the disadvantaged people.
IG: Wish you a happy birthday and many more years.
WG: Thank you very much.