Matt Steinglass

  • Up from Development

    IN A VILLAGE in southern Togo in 2001, I met a man who claimed to have attended primary school during the days when the country was a German colony. This was remarkable, considering that Germany’s colonial administration of Togo had ended in 1914. But apparently even that didn’t convey his true age: According to his nephew, who introduced us, he was 116 years old. The nephew, a traditional healer who marketed an herbal remedy for aids, explained that theirs was a long-lived family. His own mother had made it to 101, and indeed had given birth to him at age fifty-eight. Such astounding maternal