The First Grader (2010)

A review by Shlomoh Sherman
November 15, 2014

The First Grader (2010)
Plot: The true story of Kimani N'gan'ga Maruge, an 84 year-old Kenyan villager and ex Mau Mau freedom fighter who fights for his right to go to school for the first time to get the education he could never afford.
Director: Justin Chadwick
Writer: Ann Peacock
Stars: Naomie Harris, Oliver Litondo, Tony Kgoroge
Plot Keywords: 84 year old - freedom - class - mau mau - teacher
Taglines: It's never too late to dream.
Genres: Biography - Drama
Motion Picture Rating (MPAA):
Rated PG-13 for some disturbing violent content and brief nudity
Official Sites: Official site - Official site [Japan]
Country: UK - USA - Kenya
Language: English
Release Date: June 24, 2011 (Ireland)
Also Known As: Az iskolakezdo
Filming Locations: Kenya
Company Credits:
Production Co: BBC Films, UK Film Council, Videovision Entertainment
Runtime: 103 min
Sound Mix: Dolby Digital
Color: Color

This is the true life story of Kimani Ng'ang'a Maruge, an 84 year-old Kenyan villager, who at advanced age decided that he wanted to learn how to read and write. Maruge, in his youth, was a member of the dreaded Mau Mau, the terrorist [or freedom fighter if you prefer] group which helped to end British colonialism in Kenya.

The British, while colonizing Kenya, had not permitted the black population to attend school. The film makes the white colonists appear quite cruel and deprivation of learning was one of the milder forms of their cruelty.

Now that the black Kenyans are governing themslevesm universal education is thrown opn to the people. But the silent message is that this education is meant for young people. Maruge insists on attending classes with first grade children. The school administration is not happy with this and they try to disuade him from going to the school, telling him that an old man does not need to learn to read and write.

However Maruge is determined and with the help of Jane Obinchu, the first grade teacher, he does attend the classes alongside six year-olds. After all, he muses, he as a member of the Mau Mau helped to liberate his people from the oppression of the British.

There are people in the government as well as his age peers who try to thwart him in his journey towards education but his struggle to succeed with learning and the help of Mrs Obinchu push forward his ultimate success and the overcoming of fierce resistance.

The acting is superb as is the cinematography, capturing the world of modern evolving Africa with all of its problems.

THE FIRST GRADER is now playing on SHOWTIME so try to see it if possible.

Also read more about the story of The First Grader at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Click HERE

People who liked this movie also will probably like STANLEY AND IRIS. You can read about STANLEY AND IRIS by clicking HERE!

Kimani Ng'ang'a Maruge: I will continue learning, I want to become a vet.
Jane Obinchu: [laughing] A vet? Maruge, you'll be almost 100 years old.
Kimani Ng'ang'a Maruge: I will never stop learning until I have soil in my ears.

Keep on Waiting - Artist: Kawesa - Composer: Alex Heffes - Master & Publisher: Resonant Music (1) Limited Partners - Administered by Fintage Music Publishing & Collection B.V - Used by permission.
Courage - Artist: Vieux Farka Touré (as Vieux Farka Toure) Featuring Issa Bamba & Eric Herman - Composer: Eric Herman - Master: Modiba Productions LLC - Publisher: Eric M Herman Publishing - Used by permission.
Uhuru Freedom Song - Composer & Arranger: Paul Mbugi Wambogo - Master & Publisher: Resonant Music (1) Limited Partners - Administered by Fintage Music Publishing & Collection B.V. - Used by permission.
Zingu 7 - Artist: Zola - Composer: Zola (as Bonginkosi Dlamini)/Kabelo Ikaneng - Master: Courtesy of Ghetto Ruff International - Publisher: Ghetto Ruff Publishing Limited & Guluva Entertainment - Sub-publisher: Fintage Music Publishing & Collection B.V. - Used by permission.
Mwendwa Wakwa - (Kikuyu Love Song)- Composer & Arranger: Paul Mbugi Wambogo - Master & Publisher: Resonant Music (1) Limited Partners - Administered by Fintage Music Publishing & Collection B.V - Used by permission.

Message Boards:
Recent Posts:
Why didn't he just go to the adult school? - thesurf842
Tissues, please... - anubis-45
Oscar chances? - bettestreep2004
Name of the Song Near End of the Trailer? - action_jackson_0178

Discuss The First Grader (2010) on the IMDb message boards

Cast overview, first billed only:
Naomie Harris ... Jane Obinchu
Oliver Litondo ... Kimani Ng'ang'a Maruge
Tony Kgoroge ... Charles Obinchu
Alfred Munyua ... Teacher Alfred
Shoki Mokgapa ... Teacher Elizabeth
Vusi Kunene      ... Mr. Kipruto
Agnes Simaloi ... Agnes
Kamau Mbaya      ... Kamau Chege
Emily Njoki       ... Young Maruge's Wife
Lwanda Jawar ... Young Maruge
Dan 'Churchill' Ndambuki  ... DJ Masha
Hannah Wacera ... Maruge's Daughter
John Kimani      ... Maruge's Baby Son
Macharia Kamau ... DJ's PA
Abubakar Mwenda ... Boie

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