A man in Eritrea has died at the age of 127, his family has said, expressing the hope that Natabay Tinsiew will earn a place in the Guinness World Records as the oldest person to have ever lived.
“Patience, generosity and a joyful life” were the secrets behind him living for so long, his grandson Zere Natabay told BBC Tigrinya.
Mr Natabay died peacefully in his village, Azefa – which has a population of about 300 and is in a gorge surrounded by mountains – on Monday.
His grandson said church records – including his birth certificate – showed he was born in 1894 – the year he was baptised – making him 127 at the time of his death.
But Mr Natabay’s family believed that he was, in fact, born in 1884, but he was baptised 10 yeas later, when a priest came around to their village. There were few priests at the time, and people waited for them to visit their villagers.
Father Mentay, a Catholic priest who served in the village for seven years, confirmed that records showed that Mr Natabay was born in 1894.
He said he was present when villagers celebrated his 120th birthday in 2014.
Mr Zere told BBC Tigrinya that he had already contacted Guinness World Records to validate the official documents of his birth, and he was waiting to hear from them.
It records French woman Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 at the age of 122, as the oldest person to have lived.
Mr Natabay got married in 1934. His wife died in 2019 at the age of 99.
During his life time, Mr Natabay was a herdsmen, who owned many cattle, goats and honey bees, and he had lived to see five generations of his family grow up.
Mr Zere said his grandfather would be remembered as an “extraordinary man”, who was kind, caring and hardworking.