Friday, June 17, 2011

The First Grader — A MUST SEE

The First Grader is based on the true story of Kimani Maruge who was given a belated chance to go to school at the age of 84 years. Mr. Maruge, who attended Kapkenduiywo Primary School in Eldoret, Kenya, said he had been prompted to enroll in school when the Kenyan government announced universal and free education in 2003. He started first grade on January 12, 2004, one year after the announcement.

The movie opened in screens around the country this spring - May 2011. 

His enrollment caused a stir in the country as people questioned the usefulness of education to a 84 year old farmer. But Maruge's determination to go to school was not dampened by the naysayers. His expressed desire for going to school was so that he could count the pension salary he received from the government and read the Bible for himself.

Kimani Maruge in Class
This retired member of the Mau Mau independence movement attended school with children who were perhaps the ages of his great-grand children. Wearing a blue blazer, shorts and long socks, Mr. Maruge, known to all as "Mzee", would walk a distance of 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) with his walking stick. “It is hard. There is no one to help me walk. I go alone. But the urge to learn keep me going,” Mr Maruge once told

He was an outstanding pupil brilliant in Math, English and Swahili. He also provided informal history lessons retrieved from his personal experience.

Mzee with his classmates
Life changed dramatically for "Mzee" during the 2007-2008 post-election violence in Kenya. Eldoret, the town where Mr. Maruge lived and went to school, was one of the towns that experienced the most unrestrained violence. Maruge's property was stolen during this time and he contemplated quitting school. In early 2008 he lived in a refugee camp where most "internally displaced people (IDP's)" lived because of fear and/or because their homes had been destroyed in the violence.

He relocated to Nairobi in June 2008 and was forced to withdraw from school. However, still determined to continue with his education, he enrolled once again into grade 6 at the Marura primary school, on June 10, 2008, in the Kariobangi area of Nairobi.

He inspired learners and campaigners for education around the world, with his determination, and words on education, “Liberty is Learning”.

August 14, 2009, Kimani Nganga Maruge passed away at the tender age of 90. He was only two years shy of completing primary school.

This inspirational man will be remembered as the world's oldest student. But he has also left a legacy, a sense of hope and determination for those who dream and aspire for their destiny. Do not give up your hope. Dreams die when fear grows larger than your faith.

Destiny Demands Diligence!

Go watch this movie and be inspired!

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