“Gogo”, A nonagenarian on the benches of the school

Gogo *

by Pascal Plisson

French film, 1 h 23

The situation is sufficiently astonishing to deserve a film: in Kenya, Priscilah Sitienei known as Gogo, 94 years old, former midwife, mother of three children, grandmother of twenty-two grandchildren and more than fifty times great-grandchildren. mother, returned to the school benches to learn to read and write, as well as to obtain the diploma of the end of primary studies.

→ REPORT. Grannies in class with schoolchildren

It is therefore with the bright-colored uniform of the establishment closest to her village, meadow green and fuchsia pink, accompanied by a small cap for the harsh climate of the highlands, that she joins the cohorts of pupils and teachers whom, for many, she brought into the world.

Far from caring only about herself, Gogo promotes education for all: “ I want to tell all the children in the world, especially the girls, that school will be your strength, your wealth, so go for it. I pray to God that he will let me finish my studies, even if I am 100 years old on the day of my certificate. It was her grandmother who taught her the profession of midwife, which she practiced without a diploma.

A slightly formatted portrait

Charismatic, Gogo takes great care in building a new dormitory for girls who, like them, come from afar to attend classes. At school, she develops a touching friendship with Dinah, an elderly woman whom she also encourages to study. The documentary offers beautiful images of Kenya, with a school trip to meet the Maasai, twelve hours by bus from the region where Gogo and his classmates live.

To paint a portrait of such an extraordinary woman, it’s a shame that the film seems so formatted. The music heavily emphasizes the point, as does the production. As Gogo speaks little of herself, a great-granddaughter asks her questions about her trajectory which she seems to be reciting. To read the file reserved for the press, one can only regret the absence of voice-over. Comments could indeed have revealed the incredible perseverance it took for the nonagenarian to get her enrollment in school with a director with an interesting background – an agri-food entrepreneur from a very family. poor, he founded a private school open to penniless students, like Gogo.

→ READ. Schooling for children: Africa soon to be a good student?

For lack of voiceover yet, spectators are unaware that in his wake, Gogo led six of his great-granddaughters who did not have access to school. In its formatting, the documentary nevertheless escapes the “happy end” – reality does not bend to everything. But there remains the tremendous energy of the oldest schoolgirl in the world and her essential message in favor of girls’ education.


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