The First Grader nearly flunks

. May 29, 2012.

During the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya in the 1950’s, terrorists murdered men, women and children, committed arsons and other horrible crimes to achieve their goal – the removal of their British overlords. You’d never know that fact from watching the film, The First Grader. This British-made movie casts their English countrymen as savage barbarians willing to commit any atrocity to satisfy their greed for land. The Kenyans are all admirable freedom fighters suffering nobly to achieve their goal. That’s the subtext for this film allegedly based on the life of Kimani N’gan’ga Maruge (Oliver Litondo). Maruge, a former Mau Mau terrorist, survives torture and personal tragedy, only to end up old, alone, impoverished, illiterate and forgotten in the back of beyond in his homeland. Maruge is determined to change what he can about his fate. Short cut to 2003. When the government of Kenya decides to implement free education for all, Maruge grabs his chance. He shows up at a ramshackle school near his home, ready to learn to read. The problem? The students are all 4 or 5 years old. Maruge is 84.

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