Meshuko Mapi Laibon is a Tanzanian great-grandfather who has built a school to accommodate his 400 descendants and other children who need education in his community.
Laibon says he is 103-years old. The typical African tradition believes in legacy and “not letting the family name die”.
The above alone is enough motivation for the strong centenarian to have many wives, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Laibon altogether has about 400 descendants. They all reside together in a village near Arusha, northern Tanzania.
To avoid imminent clashes each family has their own homesteads.
With hundreds of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Meshuko Mapi Laibon, who must be a keen observer of the modern world, knows and values the importance of formal education.
At his age he surprisingly thought it wise that his descendants be literate enough to take on the future.
400 is enough size to make a village. Meshuko Mapi Laibon built one to serve his people. His second reason for building the school was to bridge the far distance from home to school.
The thoughtful patriarch also says the fear of animals like elephants often discouraged them from going to school.
“I thought about building a school because my children were going to school very far from home, and sometimes they were not able to go to school because of elephants, people have been killed by elephants and I built them a school because I want my children to learn.”
The school, which is named after Meshuko Mapi Laibon, has 5 classrooms. The government supports the education initiative by posting teachers to the school.
One would wonder what it is with old age and formal education.
In 2011, we saw the internationally acclaimed movie, First Grader. The movie was a biography of a soldier and survivor who insisted on going to school at the age of 84.