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Kenya’s oldest man? No, viral photos show Indonesian man

IN SHORT: A series of photos doing the rounds on social media in Kenya at the end of 2022 are claimed to show “the oldest man in Kenya” celebrating his 146th birthday. But this is not true – the photos are of an Indonesian man and at least six years old.

Photos showing an old man allegedly celebrating his 146th birthday have attracted social media attention in Kenya.

Facebook users who posted the photos claimed that they show the oldest man in Kenya.

“Meet Mzee John Kiplagat from Nandi, arguably the oldest man in Kenya. Born in 1876, he celebrated 146 years on earth [a] few days ago,” a Facebook page captioned the photos in part. It has been reposted more than 5,000 times.

“Mzee” is Kiswahili for “old man”. The surname given – Kiplagat – is common in the Kalenjin community of the Rift Valley region of western Kenya. Nandi is a county in the region.

The photos have been posted here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

But do the photos show the oldest man in Kenya? We checked.

KenyaMan_False

Photos from Indonesia in Southeast Asia

Using a reverse image search, we found the photos on a photography website.

Here the man is identified as “Mr Sodimejo known as Mbah Goto” from Sragen city in the Central Java province of Indonesia, a country in Southeast Asia.

According to the caption to the photos, published in 2016, Sodimejo was celebrating his 146th birthday and was born in 1870.

According to Reuters, Indonesian media reported that Sodimejo was the world’s oldest person, citing his identity papers. He died in 2017. 

However, according to Guinness World Records, Jeanne Louise Calment from France is the oldest person to ever live. She reportedly died in 1997 at the age of 122. Guinness World Records makes no mention of the Indonesian man. 

The photos do not show the oldest person in Kenya.

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