Inspiring Story of 98 Year Old Kenyan Granny in French Movie

Priscilla Sitenei's advocacy for girl child education has earned her global recognition, with a French film based on her life story premiering in Paris.

Gogo, which premiered on September 1, 2021, tells the story of a Kenyan grandmother who went back to school at the age of 94 years.

Her goal in the film, which was shot in Kenya, is to encourage girls in her community and let them know the importance of education.

The naming of the film was also inspired by Sitenei’s nickname, Gogo as she is referred to by her teachers, classmates and family.

Priscilla Sitenei attending a lesson at Leaders Vision Preparatory School in Ndalat

Priscilla Sitenei attending a lesson at Leaders Vision Preparatory School in Ndalat

Gogo is a name used in the Kalenjin community to refer to a grandmother.

Sitenei, who hails from Rift valley, attends school at the Leaders Vision Preparatory School in Ndalat. The Std 8 movie star shares a class with some of her grandchildren at the institution.

Before going back to school, the mother of three served as a community midwife for 65 years.

During an interview on Arte television in France, Sitenei stated that the main reason she went back to school was to inspire her community to invest in girl child education.

“I wanted to encourage the little girls, especially those who stop going to school voluntarily because they get pregnant at a very young age,” Sitenei stated.

She further mentioned an incident, which she claimed motivated her to get back to class.

“I know of a girl who was pregnant at 14 years and wanted to drop out of school. Therefore, I wanted to set an example. I accompanied her to school to show her that everything is possible,” she added.

The 98 year old movie star further stated that her favorite subject in school is mathematics.
“English is very difficult, but mathematics is okay. Kiswahili and CRE are also okay too,” Sitenei admitted.

On his part, French director Pascal Plisson, described Sitenei as a heroine and further stated that the granny’s story can be used to inspire girls all over the world to go to school.

“At first, she was afraid to make the film because she thought we would make fun of her. A little later, she understood that this film could help her in encouraging the little girls to go to school,” Plisson stated.

Kenyan ambassador to France, Prof. Judi Wakhungu, took to twitter to celebrate the 98 year old movie star who travelled to Paris for the film premiere.

“Gogo will premiere in Paris. Filmed in Kenya, it tells the story of a 94-year old who decided to join school in her village. She’s the world’s oldest schoolgirl. At 98, she’s in Paris to launch the film.Gogo is committed to education,” Wakhungu Tweeted.

In 2020, the inspiring film was nominated for the best documentary category for the Golden Goblet awards during the Shanghai International Film Festival.