Ethiopian farmer Dhaqo Ebba could break the current longevity record by half a century. At an estimated 160 years of age, the community elder is significantly older than the current Guinness World Record-holder Jeanne Clament as well as the recent challenger Carmelo Flores. While he cannot prove his age with a birth certificate, he claims to remember the transfer of power between all five Gadaa Oromo parties in four rotations – a process that dates back to the mid-19th century, according to estimates made by OPride.
In a recent interview, the elder spoke with local TV reporters about his fascinating century-and-a-half. He remembers a time when the Ethiopian empire still expanded south; when Abyssinian conquerors invaded the land; and when it took eight days on horseback to cover the 150 miles between his village and the nation’s capital, Addis Ababa.
“When Italy invaded Ethiopia, I had two wives and my son was old enough to herd cattle,” he said, referring to Italy’s 1895 invasion of his country. “Not even one of my peers is alive today.”
The average lifespan in Ethiopia is 60 years. If his story is true, Ebba would have reached that age during World War I.
“Ebba speaks with a firm, articulate voice while recounting his life story. He may no longer be able to see but his memories of historical facts seem sharp,” interviewer Mohammed Ademo said. “Given that the Oromo like many African cultures are an oral society, ‘each time an elder dies, a library is lost.’ Ebba’s is one such library from which much can still be preserved.”
A similar story surfaced earlier this summer, when the Bolivian retiree Carmelo Flores allegedly turned 123. At that point, the supercentenarian was thought to have outlived Jeanne Clament –the French 122-year-old who entered the Guinness Book of Records in 1988. However, lack of proper documentation and other red flags led the record committee’s investigation team to reject his claim.