Kimani Maruge

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Kimani Ng'ang'a Maruge (c. 1920 - August 14, 2009) holds the Guinness World Record for being the oldest person to start primary school—he enrolled in the first grade on January 12, 2004, aged 84.[1] Although he had no papers to prove his age, Maruge believed he was born in 1920.

School time[edit]

Maruge attended Kapkenduiywo Primary School in Eldoret, Kenya; he said that the government's announcement of universal and free elementary education in 2003 prompted him to enroll.

In 2005 Maruge, who was a model student, was elected head boy of his school.

In September 2005, Maruge boarded a plane for the first time in his life, and headed to New York City to address the United Nations Millennium Development Summit on the importance of free primary education.[2]


Maruge's property was stolen during the 2007-2008 post-election violence, and he contemplated quitting school.[3] During early 2008 he lived in a refugee camp, where he was reportedly a minor celebrity, four kilometers from his school, but still attended classes every day.[4] In June 2008, he relocated to the capital Nairobi.[5]

In June 2008, Maruge was forced to withdraw from school and relocate to a retirement home for senior citizens.[6] However, soon after, on June 10, 2008, Maruge enrolled once again into grade 6 at the Marura primary school, located in the Kariobangi area of Nairobi.


A feature film about Kimani Maruge, starring Oliver Litondo and Naomie Harris titled The First Grader, was released on May 13, 2011. The British-produced film was shot on location in the Rift Valley in Kenya, despite earlier reports that it would be filmed in South Africa.

Director Justin Chadwick said: "We could have shot it in South Africa, but Kenya has this unbelievable, inexplicable energy - inherent in the children, and the people we were making the film about".[7]


On Sunday May 24, 2009, Maruge was baptised at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Kariobangi and took a Christian name, Stephen.[8]

Maruge was then using a wheelchair.[8]

Maruge was a widower, and a great-grandfather (two of his 30 grandchildren attend the same school). He was a combatant in the Mau Mau Uprising against the British colonizers in the 1950s.


Maruge died on August 14, 2009 of stomach cancer, at the Cheshire Home for the Aged in Nairobi.[9] He was buried at his farm in Subukia.[10]


  1. ^ BBC News, May 25, 2004: Kenya's record-breaking OAP pupil
  2. ^ BBC News, September 8, 2005: Kenya OAP school pupil flies high
  3. ^ The Standard, January 14, 2008: Displaced Maruge may miss school
  4. ^ Globe and Mail, March 20, 2008: Kenya's 88-year-old schoolboy
  5. ^ The Standard, June 7, 2008: Maruge relocates to Nairobi
  6. ^ BBC, June 6, 2008: Kenyan OAP pupil taken into care
  7. ^ Interview with director Justin Chadwick, reproduced in Soda Pictures' Theatrical Press Kit
  8. ^ a b Daily Nation, May 24, 2009: Oldest pupil now seeks to be listed in Book of Life
  9. ^ The Standard, August 15, 2009: World's oldest pupil, Stephen Maruge, dies
  10. ^ The Standard, August 26, 2009: Heroic sendoff for world's oldest pupil