Claim: Ghana is home to the oldest woman on earth, according to Captain Smart, the host of Onua TV’s Maakye show.
Verdict: Insufficient evidence. Captain Smart’s claim of having interviewed the oldest person on earth cannot be regarded as factual due to the absence of adequate documentary proof or scientific test to confirm the age of the woman.
A viral video from a live telecast of Onua TV’s Morning Show on August 16, 2021, streamed on Onua TV’s Facebook account, claimed a 198-year old Ghanaian woman, who gave her name as Amodzie, is the oldest woman in the world.
The host of ‘Maakye’ (name of the programme), Captain Smart, said, while introducing his guest, that the Ghanaian is the oldest woman in the world, after asserting that similar records provided by the “Guinness Book of Records,” now Guinness World Records (GWR), were untrue.
Amodzie, during the interview, referred to her knowledge of the birth of the late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first President, as a confirmation of her age, in the absence of any documentary proof.
According to her, she witnessed the time the late Dr. Nkrumah’s mother was pregnant with him, as well as knew of his birth in 1901.
To further prove her age, she said she had divorced twice and was in her third marriage at the time of Nkrumah’s birth.
In addition, she said some educated people around the time indicated her age to her while she was growing.
She is revealed to have birthed seven children, of which three have passed on. The youngest (last to be born) of her children is currently 88 years old, according to Captain Smart.
Her ‘vivid recollection’ of events that took place at the time leading to the late Dr. Nkrumah’s birth as well as becoming the first President made the claim quite interesting to verify.
However, the absence of any documentary proof to confirm her age made the claim about her age quite debatable.
Granted that the claim is true, this means that Amodzie was born circa 1823. If so, with the youngest child alleged to be 88 years this year, it will mean that she gave birth to her at the age of 110 years, in 1933.
At what age can a woman not have a baby?
In 2019 the Washington Post reported Mangayamma Yaramati as the oldest person to birth a child, at the age of 74 years.
The development revived several controversies around geriatric pregnancies because the twins she had were conceived through in-vitro fertilization. This was because, at 74 years, she had experienced menopause, according to the Washington Post.
Healthline Media says a higher proportion of women reach menopause, the stopping of the menstrual cycle (for a year or longer), somewhere between their late 40s and early 50s, with an average age of around 51 years old.
It also notes that women who give birth at older ages between 55 and 70 could possibly conceive through hormone therapy and in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
A specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist, Dr. Senyo M.K. Misroame, explained in a telephone interview that the history of an older person conceiving and giving birth is traced to the Bible.
But he added that no scientific data is available to prove this occurrence.
Dr. Misroame, who is also the CEO of Tantra Community Clinic and Fertility Centre, Acheampong Specialist Clinic, at Labone, said the oldest person he has seen getting pregnant at one of his facilities was at age 52 years.
However, he added, “currently, there is no data to support claims that a person has gotten pregnant at such an advanced age beyond 70 years and above what I have come across.”
According to him, scientific research undertaken locally put the average ages for menopause of Ghanaian women, especially southerners, between 42 and 52 years.
“So, most women will fall into that bracket,” and outliers who will have their menopause pretty early, after 40 years. And added that after menopause women are not able to conceive naturally.
Advanced technologies that have come to aid women to conceive at older ages are recent inventions and did not exist at the time, with regards to the claim under review.”
Based on these, he concluded that it is almost impossible physiologically while no data also exists to support such a claim at the moment.
World’s oldest person
According to the Guinness World Records, the oldest person living (female) is Kane Tanaka, from Fukuoka in Japan. She was born on January 2, 1903.
At the time her age was verified, on February 12, 2020, she was 117 years and 41 days. This means she is currently (as of August 18) 118 years and 7 months and 24 days.
How credible is this claim?
The Guinness World Records remains one of the common platforms to verify such unique claims. As noted by Wikipedia, “it is a reference book published annually, listing world records both of human achievements and other extremes of the natural world.”
Criteria for determining a record title
Each record title in the Guinness World Records is scrutinised and meets some specific requirements including measurability (can the claim be measured objectively? what is the unit of measurement?), and verifiability (can it be proven and will there be accurate evidence available to prove it?).
It is only when a claim meets the above conditions and some others that Guinness World Records is able to approve its accuracy.
Human life expectancy:
Definition – According to the World Health Organisation, “the average number of years that a newborn could expect to live if he or she were to pass through life exposed to the sex- and age-specific death rates prevailing at the time of his or her birth, for a specific year, in a given country, territory, or geographic area.”
According to research by the University of Washington, the number of people who live past the age of 100 has been on the rise for decades, up to nearly half a million people worldwide.
It, however, asserted that there are “far fewer “supercentenarians,” people who live to age 110 or even longer,” while noting that the oldest living person, Jeanne Calment of France, was 122 when she died in 1997.
The research went further to confirm the world’s current oldest person as the 118-year-old Kane Tanaka of Japan.
Given the limited data on the life expectancy of Ghanaians in the 20th century, as a means to thoroughly verify the claim, in addition to the absence of any documentary proof by the claimant, it would be inconclusive to say Amodzie is the oldest person in the world.