A woman in Kiandundu Village, Embu County, who defied death as a young girl after she was left in a forest to be eaten by wild animals, could be among the world’s oldest persons.
Though Esther Gicuku Nguru's national identity card states that she is 113, her relatives claim she is 133 and want her in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The family of Mrs Nguru, who lives in Kithimu, says that occurrences as she grew up indicate she could be 133.
They cite the culture of disposing of the bodies of sick people in the forest for wild animals to eat.
Mrs Nguru's son, Elijah Kabau, 78, says Kenya National Bureau of Statistics personnel, who collected data 27 years ago, said she was 106 years old.
“They used the occurrences to reach this conclusion. Since then, I have religiously added one year to her age and I have come up with 133,” he said.
Mr Kabau, the fourth born in a family of eight, said his mother gave birth well into an advanced age.
The woman's husband, Isaac Nguru, died aged 50 year while her first born died recently at the age of 99.
Mr Kabau claims his mother was highly involved in the Mau Mau struggle and that at one point, more than 150 fighters stayed at their home.
“When she was young, her mother died so she was given the task of bringing up her sister. She did so until her sister got married. That is when my mother also got married," he recounted during a family get-together on Saturday.
"She told me she was once left in the bush to die. In the Embu culture, if a girl dies without giving birth, nobody can bury her because of the belief that a curse will befall them."
The man further says his mother has been eating foods such as bananas, arrow roots and traditional vegetables only.
At her age, most of her teeth are intact and she can chew sugarcane.
Mrs Nguru, a strict disciplinarian, usually gathers her children, grandchildren, great and great-great grandchildren for prayers and says a prayer before having any kind of food, including the sugarcane.
But age has slowed her down, so she no longer attends mass at the local prayer house, but other faithful visit her. The local priest from Kithimu Parish visits occasionally to give her the Holy Eucharist.
“She has been a strong pillar of the local church and never missed mass until she became weak about five years ago. She has to be taken care of everyday by being taken out to bask in the sun,” said Mr Kabau.
One of Mrs Nguru's grandchildren, Angelo Kabau, describes her as the family matriarch.
“We are very happy that the Lord has blessed her with so many years and great-great grand children. She brought us up in the good Christian faith and has always been our source of joy,” he said.
One of the great-grandchildren is Florah Nyakio, a young mother, making her daughter Mrs Nguru's great-great-grandchild
Ms Nicetta Njagi, 50, a medic based at Kiritiri town in Mbeere South, is also the woman's grandchild.
She says four of Mrs Nguru's children are still alive and that she has about 50 grandchildren and great grandchildren.
The website of the Guinness Book of World Records (GWBR) states, "The greatest fully authenticated age to which any human has ever lived is 122 years, 164 days by Jeanne Louise Calment (France)."
She was born on February 21, 1875.
In September 2017, GBWR reported that the "oldest living person" had died aged 117.
The person was identified as Violet Moss-Brown from Duanvale in Trelawny, Jamaica, who was recognised on July 27 that year.
In April this year, the record went to Masazo Nonaka, a man from Japan, who was 112 years and 259 days old, according to the GBWR.