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World’s oldest pupil dies at 99 in Kenya

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A Kenyan great-grandmother, Priscilla Sitieni, who was celebrated as the world’s oldest pupil in 2019 when she registered at a primary school at the age of 94 has died aged 99, local media reports on Saturday.

Sitieni whose resolve to acquire an education in her 90s, had inspired an award wining French film and won praise from UNESCO and other international organisations.

Her grandson, Sammy Chepsiror, who announced the demise of Sitieni, told journalists that “Gogo Priscilla (Granny Priscilla), as she was fondly known, died at home on Wednesday after developing a chest complication.”

“Gogo has been in good health and attending her classes until three days to her demise when she developed chest pains, which forced her out of school.

“We are thankful for the 100 years of her life. She made all of us proud,” Chepsiror said.

According to UNESCO, Sitieni was 94 when she persuaded the headmaster of the local school in her village in Kenya’s Rift Valley to admit her, an act that drew worldwide praise for her with the United Nations hailing her as “a role model for her community and beyond”.

In an interview with the UN agency last year, she said her aim was to motivate young mothers in Kenya to return to school after having children, instead of dropping out due to shame or fear of social stigma.

“I wanted to show an example not only to them but to other girls around the world who are not in school.

“Without education, there will be no difference between you and a chicken. Education is your future. Education remains in your head forever and you cannot lose it once you have it,” she had said.

Her resilience and efforts were documented in a French film titled “Gogo”, which led her to take a plane for the first time last year to visit France and meet first lady Brigitte Macron.

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Director of ‘Dahomey’ Mati Diop shines at Berlin Film Festival 2024

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Senegalese-French writer and and director of African documentary movie, “Dahomey,” Mati Diop, made history when her movie was selected for a special world premiere at the 2024 Berlin Film Festival.

She was joined by other directors of African descent including Gildas Adannou, Habib Ahandessi and Joséa Guedje at the premiere where Kenyan Hollywood actress, Lupita Nyong’o became the ever black person to head the festival’s jury.

“Dahomey” which is one of Africa’s entry in this year’s festival, is a documentary that explores colonization through the return of stolen artifacts plundered by French colonial troops and returned to Benin in West Africa.

Dahomey” follows the journey of plundered artifacts taken by French colonial troops in 1892, being sent from Paris to the Republic of Benin and the impact of their return.

Other African films selected for the festival include “Black Tea” by Mauritanian-born Malian director Abderrahmane Sissako, and “Who Do I Belong To” by Tunisian-Canadian director Meryam Joobeur.

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Tanzanians protest against Nyerere statue

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Some Tanzanians have taken to social media to protest against a recently unveiled statue of their founding father, Julius Nyerere.

According to them, the statue “does not look like” him.

The African Union (AU) had unveiled the statue in honour of the revered Tanzania founding president outside the Union’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

At the unveiling of the statue at a ceremony attended by numerous African heads of state, AU Commission leader Moussa Faki Mahamat said:

“The legacy of this remarkable leader encapsulates the essence of Pan Africanism, profound wisdom, and service to Africa.”

However, some Tanzanians have criticized the statue which they believe does not look like the pan-Africanist who led what is now Tanzania which was then known as Tanganyika, from independence in 1961 until 1985, a played a key role in the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which later became the African Union.

A user on X, Maria Sarungi, who expressed her disappointment at the statue wrote:

“I know the gesture counts the most, but this statue’s face bears little or no resemblance to Mwalimu Nyerere (old or young),” she wrote.

Another user who was not happy with the simply said:

“That is not our Nyerere.”

Known as Mwalimu, a Swahili word for teacher, Nyerere is remembered for uniting the country made up of more than 120 different ethnic groups, including Arab, Asian and European minorities.

He did this by promoting the use of Swahili as a common language and through his vision of Ujamaa (Familyhood) and his version of “African Socialism.”

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