Could this be the world’s oldest man?
The first time Uganda's Mzee Yakobo Baguma took manufactured drugs was when he was 100 years and had been diagnosed with dysentery and malaria.
Now believed to be 127 years, the old man still has his wits about him, enough to take himself for short and long calls until two weeks ago when he got a urinary infection that resulted in him having to use a catheter to pass urine.
“Take me to the compound so that I can sun-bathe,” Mzee Baguma said, also asking for his walking stick so that his son Yosamu Baguma could lead him out of his semi-permanent house, on the day of the interview.
The old man lost his sight and only identifies the people he knows by their voices. And for him to hear what you have said, you must speak very loudly.
This has not deterred him from passionately giving his two cents in parenting and relationships.
“Parents must take their children to school and promote Christianity amongst them at a tender age so that it can build their morals,” he advises, and then changes the subject to men having multiple relationships.
“Men must be warned against promiscuity, but be advised to marry the women they admire. I had sex with the women I am married to… only.”
This seems to have worked for him if his youngest wife Adrida Molly Baguma’s sentiments are anything to go by.
The 80-year-old says: “I find it very easy to keep by my husband’s side. He gave us [his wives] equal love even if we are many. Mzee likes to be near me and I love him so much.”
Yosamu, 67, who is also the former Local Council 5 chairman for Kabale District (western Uganda) says, his father married four wives, two of who died, and has 19 children, 59 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren.
Born in Kashenyi Village, Kitoma Parish in Rubaya Sub-county, Kabale District, Mzee Baguma is the first born of Rwandanga Mwene Kimondo-Kya Rweyakiza, and belongs to the Bahundu sub clan.
His only brother died before his 10th birthday.
Getting his age
To get their father’s age, Yosamu explains that they based on the graduated tax tickets they found in his home.
“By 1939, when my father was recruited as a world war II soldier, he had a list of 35 graduated tax tickets, indicating that he had paid for his first graduated tax ticket in 1904. Believing that he was 18 years old at the time, since this is when one was expected to pay the tax, our father must have been born in 1886,” Yosamu explains.
His children do not take their father’s age for granted as Yosamu, Mzee Baguma’s third born child puts it.
“We thank God who has kept our father for all these years. He has been able to stay for this long because of God’s mercy. I also believe that the six kilometres he used to walk daily, from our home to Lake Bunyonyi, where he operated a canoe for over 80 years, kept him physically fit.”
It may also have a lot to do with the attention the children pay to him. For instance, the last born in the family, Shallon Atusasira, 25, says she dropped out of school to take care of her aging parents. She, however, does not take this responsibility lightly.
“Sometimes, when I am from fetching water, I find that one parent has taken a walk. As I look for her, the other one takes a different direction,” she illustrates.
Another factor that may be contributing to their parents’ long life is their diet.
Atusasira describes their parents meals: “They enjoy hot millet or sorghum or maize porridge, or dry tea for breakfast. They also enjoy local boiled food for lunch and they do not take supper.”
Yosamu adds that Mzee Baguma still has a healthy appetite and enjoys mainly greens, mingled sorghum flour, roasted and locally preserved meat, beans, peas, roasted Irish and sweet potatoes.
As his son speaks, Mzee comments on how much the weather has changed and that every time he goes outside, the sun seems closer to the earth compared to how it was in his youthful days, and then keeps quiet, enjoying that day’s sunbathing session.