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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 2,791 users   Metascore: 56/100
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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

Truly Wonderful!
2 August 2014 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

This is a wonderful and inspiring film. It's about a teacher and an eighty year old pupil who wants to learn to read who has never had a formal education. It's also about history, Africa, colonialism – it takes in a lot of diverse topics and it does it all rather well. It's not one of these syrupy films where all the villagers unite behind the teacher and her new elder pupil – in fact the opposite happens.

The film has a distinctive African authenticity – the classroom, the village, the different tribal groupings... One only wishes there could be more films like this instead of the vapid drivel that we are being constantly offered (such as fantasy action films...)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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