Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Is the oldest man in the world living in São Paulo?

Jose Aguinelo dos Santos

He has no children, smokes cigarettes by the packet and lives in a home for the poor in São Paulo. Jose Aguinelo dos Santos is in many ways an unremarkable man. Until you see his national identity card.

According to the document he was born on the 7th July 1888, which if verified would make him the world’s oldest man. That’s the claim being made by Vila Vicentina, the São Paulo institution where dos Santos is a resident.

Photo: Alan Schneider
Despite his age and his smoking he shows no major health problems and is able to walk ably. He doesn’t have high cholesterol, diabetes or high blood pressure. The only medicine he takes are vitamins and a tablet to give him an appetite, which can be lost with old age.

According to the staff at Vila Vicentina he is not much of a talker but he remembers a slave compound in Pedra Branca in the state of Ceara, where he is thought to have been born. Slavery having been officially, if not practically, abolished 2 months before his age, dos Santos is said to be the son of freed Afro-Brazilian slaves.

He was one of six children living in a community of freed slaves where there were no beds. Later in his life Jose worked as a manual labourer on a coffee plantation in the São Paulo town of Bauru.

Photo: Alan Schneider
The current oldest person in the world is 116 year old Misao Okawa of Japan. Jose dos Santos, if verified, would smash the record by 10 years and be an unusual example of a man reaching such an advanced age, most people reaching those ages being women.

The old people's home now proposes to definitively prove that he is the world's oldest man by using 'Carbon-14' dating techinques.

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