When the Kenyan government promises free education for all, 84 year-old Mange (Oliver Litondo) makes his way to a remote primary school in the Kenyan bush to get himself the education he has always been denied. A former Mau Mau warrior fifty years earlier he fought for the liberation of his country and now he must fight for his right to learn to read and write in a class of six-year-olds.
True story set in Kenya about a man who had fought against the evils of the British empire who years later tries to fight against the odds to learn to read and write. Humble story, wonderful acting from all the actors and extras. It teaches you that you have to fight for what you believe in and everyone has the right to learn, no matter what your age.
Based on a true story the First Grader is the story of Kimani Ng’ang’a Maruge an illiterate 84 year old Kenyan. Kimani learns that his government has promised free education for all and decides to enroll in a local primary school so that he may learn to read and write.
Kimani’s story, as he studies surrounded by children who can not be more than six or seven, is sweet and shocking in many places. Mocked and even physically attacked for his choice to return to school Kimani seems to be outcast by all. Despite this Kimani is determined and eventually is invited to New York to speak on the importance of primary education at a UN conference.
Kimani, in his own school uniform, is somewhat of a pitiful character, whose story, rather than being moving, is not handled very well and becomes a little contrite and obvious. Where Kimani is suspicious of his government and his government are wary of his past as a Mau Mau fighter and newly acquired star status, the movie misses the opportunity to really open up this dark and complex aspect of the narrative. Overall, the movie is very much sugar coated, which distracts from the huge importance and impact of Kimani’s actions.