The First Grader Movie Summary
Kenya, 2003: A radio DJ announces that the Kenyan government is offering free primary school education to all. Maruge (OLIVER LITONDO), an 84 year-old villager, hears this and decides he wants to educate himself. Arriving at his local school, with a newspaper clipping about this change in policy, he meetsJane (NAOMIE HARRIS), the school’s principal, and expresses his desire to learn. Her colleague Alfred (ALFRED MUNYUA), in an effort to get rid of him, tells him all pupils need two pencils and an exercise book. The next day, Maruge returns, telling Jane he wants to learn to read. He has a letter from the “Office of the President” that he wants to understand. Exasperated, she tells him the school already has too many pupils. Later that night, she tells her husband Charles (TONY KGOROGE) about Maruge. Cautious of his own position, working alongside the government in Nairobi, he advises her to fight the battles she can win.
After cutting his trousers and turning them into shorts, Maruge returns to the school again. While Jane tells the school inspector Mr. Kipruto (VUSI KUNENE)on the telephone that she currently has five children to a desk, when Maruge re-appears, she relents. Alfred is reluctant, yet Jane is defiant, claiming Kipruto is not the head of the school. Allowing Maruge into her class, she seats him near the front – after he admits his eyesight is not so good – and begins to teach him, and her other charges, how to write the alphabet. Plagued by memories of his time in Kenya in 1953, when he fought with the Mau Mau against the British, it even impacts upon Maruge in class, when Alfred scolds him for not keeping his pencil sharp. Made to sharpen it, he breaks down as he recalls a time when the British tortured him – using a sharp pencil brutally thrust into his ear. Apologising to Jane, saying it won’t happen again, Maruge later educates his fellow pupils, patiently explains about the fight for land that he and...
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