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Is this Kenya’s tallest man?

By STANDARD CORRESPONDENT | Jan 8th 2014 | 4 min read
Jackson Kipkirui Koskei is suspected to be the tallest man in Kenya. [PHOTOS: STANDARD/WIRE]


Bomet, Kenya: Whenever, Jackson Kipkirui Koskei takes to the streets in Bomet, he is escorted by surreptitious glances, whispers and even open, unabashed oohs, wows and giggles from passerbys!

For a long time, this kind of attention irritated him immensely and even gave him the jitters. More often than not, he felt tempted to tell off his admirers or even run fast, away from their piercing eyes.

But today, he is unconcerned by the stares. He even gives the gawkers a friendly smile as a way of appreciating their appreciation of him. 

Mr Koskei is no ordinary man. The 50-year-old father of four is 7.3 feet tall. Towering over all the men and women in Bomet, he could easily be Kenya’s tallest man.

Nowadays, Koskei is proud of his height after it propelled him to greater heights and earned him a place in the Kenya Book of Records.

He is only one foot shy of the world’s tallest man, Sultan Kösen from Turkey, who stands at 8.3 feet. That is why Koskei stands tall today. 

Interestingly, he never realised there was anything unusual about his height until he took his wife for medication at Tenwek Mission Hospital two years ago.  Doctors there, like  any other people who see him for the first time, were amazed by his towering frame.

They asked to measure his height, which they did. 

“One of the doctors who took my measurements suggested to his colleagues that they should inform the record keepers. He said he believed my height was unique in the country,” Koskei told The Standard at his home in Kapkoros location.


That’s why early last year, Mwaniki Wachira from the Kenya Book of Record’s visited him at home and informed him that he was the tallest among those who have been sampled in the country.

The renowned tea farmer says he inherited the height from his grandfather.

“Nobody else in my family is tall but I believe I inherited it from my grandfather who was also tall. I think he was even taller than me,” says Koskei.

Kanganga, as he is fondly known by his neighbours, says his height helped him a lot during his days in secondary school.

He successfully represented Bomet District at provincial level twice in athletics and field events such as  shot put and javelin.

“I think it was due to my unique height among those I competed against that I had an advantage and made it to the provincials twice in javelin and shot put.”

He also suspects it is because of his towering height that he was appointed a class prefect at Kiplokyi Secondary School in 1985. “Maybe if my height was normal, I would not have made it to be a class perfect during my school days,” says Koskei.

But his height has also been a source of headache to him, for it is only the wearer who knows where the shoe pinches.

Indeed, it is not easy to find shoes large enough to fit his big feet. Many times he must travel far and wide visiting flea markets in Bomet looking for the right shoes.

He pleads with Kenyan shoe companies to consider making shoes sizes beyond number 12, adding that ignoring him and those who wear shoes of similar size amounts to discrimination.

Shoes to fit

“I think the companies should consider my condition and produce shoes that can fit me,” he says.

Travelling in buses and matatus is another tall order for the record holder. Koskei says he endures a lot of pain squeezing himself into vehicles. He prefers travelling on motor cycles commonly referred to as boda boda.

“Since there are no vehicles that can accommodate me comfortably, I avoid travelling long distances. My long legs do not allow it,” he reveals.

Koskei says he specifically designed his house to accommodate his size. He ordered longer doors as he gets tired of bending every time he enters a house.

 “When I was building my house, I instructed the constructors to measure my height because I did not want a situation where I would have to bend while entering,” he points out.

He said his decision was informed by his visits to friends’ homes where he had to stoop very low to enter their houses.

But while Koskei and Kösen  stand in the league of the world’s tallest, on the opposite side, Chandra Bahadur Dangi from Nepal holds another record.  Dangi is the world’s shortest living man, measuring only 21.5 inches.

The measurement also makes him  the shortest adult human to ever have their height verified by Guinness World Records, beating a benchmark set by Gul Mohammed of India who measured 22.5 inches.

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