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The First Grader (2010)

PG-13  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  24 June 2011 (Ireland)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 2,792 users   Metascore: 56/100
Reviews: 17 user | 67 critic | 21 from

The true story of 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.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tony Kgoroge ...
Charles Obinchu
Alfred Munyua ...
Teacher Alfred
Shoki Mokgapa ...
Teacher Elizabeth
Vusi Kunene ...
Mr. Kipruto (as Vusumuzi Michael Kunene)
Agnes Simaloi ...
Kamau Mbaya ...
Kamau Chege
Emily Njoki ...
Young Maruge's Wife
Lwanda Jawar ...
Dan 'Churchill' Ndambuki ...
DJ Masha (as Daniel Ndambuki 'Churchill')
Hannah Wacera ...
Maruge's Daughter
John Kimani ...
Maruge's Baby Son
Macharia Kamau ...
Abubakar Mwenda ...


Set in a mountain village in Kenya the film tells the remarkable true and uplifting story of a proud old Mau Mau veteran who is determined to seize his last chance to learn to read and write - and so ends up joining a class alongside six year-olds. Together he and his young teacher face fierce resistance, but ultimately they win through - and also find a new way of overcoming the burdens of the colonial past. Written by Unknown

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


It's never too late to dream.


Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some disturbing violent content and brief nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| |


Release Date:

24 June 2011 (Ireland)  »

Also Known As:

Az iskolakezdő  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$20,437 (USA) (13 May 2011)


$330,533 (USA) (29 July 2011)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Tony Kgoroge is a frequent collaborator with director Justin Chadwick, having also appeared in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013), another film Chadwick directed. See more »


Jane Obinchu: Mmzee, why does someone as old as yourself want to go to school?
Kimani Ng'ang'a Maruge: I want to learn to read.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the initial credits, there is 1. a photo of the real Maruge with some students. 2. a scene with the DJ mentioning Maruge's trip to the UN, and predicting that a Kenyan will ascend to the White House. 3. more scenes of the children at the school See more »


Featured in Breakfast: Episode dated 20 June 2011 (2011) See more »


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.
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User Reviews

An inspiring and sensitive retelling of events
2 May 2012 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

This is a very moving account of actual events that took place 2003-2005, with a little poetic license in the retelling. The principle actors are brilliant, but some of the other characters are a little overdrawn. However, I think this kind of caricature may be derived from Kenyan culture.

I thoroughly enjoyed the character development as well as the pacing of the story. It is also set in dramatic Kenyan landscapes which are enthralling. Having visited Kenya briefly in 2006, this brought back a lot of good memories of the country and the people. The smiles of the children you see amid the poverty is exactly how I remember it.

As others have said, it isn't a movie for children, but should be on the "to watch" list for adolescents and adults.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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