It's 2003. The Kenyan government has just promised free education for all. Kimani Maruge is thrilled, because now he can finally learn how to read and write. Kimani Maruge limps to the school gates and asks to be admitted to the school. The teachers laugh, and send him away. Why?
Because Maruge is 84 years old.
"The First Grader" is the true story of an old man who wants nothing more than to learn to read and write after never being able to afford school. Despite his being turned away, Maruge continues to show up to the school everyday, finally winning over headmaster Jane Obinchu.
In between his present battle of fighting for his right to an education against the parents and administrators determined to kick Maruge out of the school, we learn about Maruge's horrific past as a Mau Mau veteran, a man who fiercely battled for the independence of his country. He witnessed his entire family murdered before his eyes. He was held in detention camps for years and brutally tortured (beat, whipped, toes chopped off, sharp pencils jammed inside his ears).
It's beautiful to see the relationships develop between Maruge and the young children. "The First Grader is a powerful and uplifting film, one that I definitely recommend! It's proof that literacy and education are important and valuable at any age.
(At right, the real Kimani Maruge, Guiness World Record holder for the oldest person to start primary school, died in 2009)