The man who does not stop growing and dreams of becoming the tallest in the world


When I heard that a man from northern Ghana might be a contender to become the world’s tallest person, I set out to learn more about him. The only problem I found? How to measure it…

At a local hospital in northern Ghana, 29-year-old Sulemana Abdul Samed was told during one of her recent checkups that she had reached a height of 2.89 meters.

As a result, he would become the tallest man in the world. However, there was a problem: they were unsure of his height in the outlying clinic because he lacked the necessary measuring equipment.

The young man, who had just been diagnosed with gigantism, was urged to stand straight against a measuring stick at his monthly checkup to cope with the consequences of his condition.

A surprised nurse told her, “You’ve outgrown the scale.”

Known by his nickname Awuche, which means “let’s go” in Hausa, he was taken aback by the reaction he was causing.

Knowing he was taller didn’t bother him since he’s never stopped growing, but he did feel a personal dismay.

The on-call nurse called a colleague, who then requested assistance from another. Soon, some nurses and medical aids gathered to solve the riddle and ascertain his height.

One of them suggested they find a wooden stick and use it as an extension on their staff. This is how they arrived at the estimate of his height.

Keep growing

When I first encountered the Awuche a few months ago while traveling in northern Ghana, where his fame had spread through the grasslands, I did not have a tape measure long enough to check his height.

So to settle the matter, armed with a 16-foot tape measure, I returned to the town of Gambaga.

He planned to lean against a wall, mark how far his head came up, and then measure his height with the tape.

Awuche acknowledged, pleased with my strategy to determine his precise height, “From the way they measure me, I can’t claim everything is great.”

It turned out to be taller than most of the houses in his neighborhood, but after a thorough search, we located a building with a wall that was enough.

He took off his shoes. They were slip-ons made especially for him from car tires.

When we measured it, one of his neighbors climbed on a wooden stool to get up to him so he could mark the wall with a piece of charcoal.

We spread the tape measure tightly from the marked line to the floor. Awuche looked longingly.

“Awuche, the tape measure is 7 feet 4 inches (2.14 m),” I said.

Sporting his inimitable smile, he replied, “Wow, so what does it mean?”

“Well, the tallest man alive is 8 feet 2.8 inches (2.50 m), barely a foot taller than you.”

I was referring to Sultan Kösen , 40, who lives in Turkey and holds the Guinness World Record.

“I’m still growing. Who knows, maybe one day I can reach that height too,” he said, not at all upset by the discrepancy with the figure the hospital gave him.

“Every three months I grow… If you haven’t seen me for three or four months, you will have noticed that I have increased in size,” he explains.

Marfan’s syndrome

When he was 22 years old and residing in Accra, the country’s capital, people noticed his height gain.

Awuche had relocated there after graduating from high school in an effort to try his luck in the city where one of his brothers resided.

You have Marfan syndrome, which can cause the spine to become abnormally curved.

At the time, he worked at a butcher shop and saved money to take lessons at a driving school.

But he woke up one morning confused: “I realized that my tongue had expanded in my mouth to the point that I couldn’t breathe [properly],” he recounts.

He visited a local pharmacy to get some medicine. However, days later, she noticed that all other body parts had begun to increase in size.

When family and friends from his village visited the town, they all commented on his growth spurt, and it was at this point he realized that he was gradually becoming “a giant.”

He began to stand out above everyone and sought medical help as the growth brought other complications.

He has been left with an abnormally curved spine, one of the prominent symptoms of his condition, a genetic disorder affecting the body’s connective tissues.

This results in abnormally long limbs. The most serious complications involve heart defects.

Doctors say he needs a surgical procedure on his brain to stop the growth.

But Ghana’s public health insurance cannot cover this, so they only provide him with basic treatment.

For each hospital visit, you still have to pay $50.

His health problems eventually forced him to return to his hometown six years ago and give up his dreams of becoming a driver.

“I was planning to go to driving school, but even when I move the seat back, I can’t hold the steering wheel… I can’t straighten my leg because my knee will hit the steering wheel.

Now he lives with his brother and manages after setting up a small business selling credits for mobile phones.

His height has also reduced his social life.

“I used to play football like any other youngster, I was athletic but now I can’t even walk short distances,” he explained.

a local celebrity

But Awuche doesn’t let his problems get him down. He is full of hope as his tall, lean body meanders through the dusty lanes of the village, smiling when people call out to him.

A group of old men sitting next to a shed exchange jokes, children greet him, and some women hug him and joke with him.

Some people want to take selfies. Even strangers ask if he’s the “giant” they’ve seen on social media.

“Usually I’d say, ‘Yeah, come over,’ and we’d stop and take good pictures,” says Awuche.

He is very grateful to his family for their emotional support. He says he doesn’t know of any other relatives, including his three brothers, who show signs of his condition.

“None of them are tall, I am the tallest man.”

Although she would adore a future marriage and children, she wants to prioritize her health.

Her priority is to raise money for surgery to treat a serious skin problem on a leg, ankle, and foot caused by an overgrowth of the limb.

Looking at his bandaged toes, Awuche refuses to be discouraged by his situation.

“This is how Allah chose it for me, I’m fine. I have no problem with the way God created me.”

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