May 31, 2012

Maruge: 84 Year Old First Grader

There is never a time that it is too late to learn or have your dreams come true. Kimani Ng'ang'a Maruge was a Mau Mau fighter in the war of independence against the British. In Kenya, in 2002, the government announced that primary education was free to everyone. Maruge wanted to learn to read and write.  So, he enrolled in the first grade.  He didn't know that he would cause so much controversy in the community. I watched the National Geographic movie about him called, The First Grader, a few days ago. I was inspired. Why would an 84 year old man want to learn to read and write at his age anyway? Education shouldn't be wasted on the old but on the young.  After all, it is the young people who are the future of any country.  Correct?

When he approached teacher Jane Obinchu about coming to school she said that he couldn't come because he didn't have a uniform.  Maruge made his own uniform and approached the teacher again.  After much persistence from Maruge, teacher Jane allowed him to attend class. 

As word spread about the old man going to school, parents and the school administration tried to have Maruge ousted. He fought for education in the war of independence. Education equals freedom from poverty. Maruge has rekindled ambition in people who did not think that they had hope. I love these kind of stories.  Maruge passed away in 2009, but his inspiration lives on.