The First Grader

The First Grader


The First Grader is a biographical drama released in 2010. The movie, directed by Justin Chadwick, went on to win at some major international film festivals like the Durban International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Zanzibar International Film Festival and Sedona International Film Festival in 2010 and 2011.
The First Grader is based on the true story of Kimani Maruge, a Kenyan villager who enrolled for first grade at the age of 84.
The movie starts with a Kenyan radio station announcing the government’s latest initiative – free primary education for all natives. Kimani Maruge (played by Oliver Litondo), an 84-year-old ex-service man hears the announcement and decides to get educated. Kimani meets the principal, Jane (played by Naomie Harris) and expresses his desire to learn. On commencing his classes, Kimani starts recalling his service days during the Mau Mau Uprising against the British, and begins to hallucinate. As news about the 84-year-old begins to make headlines, many disapprove and ridicule his desire to learn in a school meant for children. Kimani is soon forced to join an adult education facility where he finds people lacking enthusiasm and ambition to study. He returns to the children’s school, causing friction among the parents.
The movie explores Maruge’s relationship with his classmates and the support he receives from Jane. Maruge’s fight for his right to learn makes ‘The First Grader’ a heart-warming and an inspiring story.
How he completes his education and goes on to prove that “it’s never too late to dream” forms the rest of the story!
This article was originally published in TheTeacher.in magazine in the month of January, 2019.