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 2005 World 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 Standard 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 in the Rift Valley in Kenya.


On Sunday May 24, 2009, Maruge was baptized at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Kariobangi and took a Christian name, Stephen.[7]

Maruge was then using a wheelchair.[7]

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 Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi.[8] He was buried at his farm in Subukia.[9]

Google Doodle[edit]

On 12 January 2015, on the 11th anniversary of his first day of school, Google's homepage Google Doodle was about Kimani Maruge.[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[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ The Standard, June 7, 2008: Maruge relocates to Nairobi
  6. ^ BBC, June 6, 2008: Kenyan OAP pupil taken into care
  7. ^ a b Daily Nation, May 24, 2009: Oldest pupil now seeks to be listed in Book of Life
  8. ^ The Standard, August 15, 2009: World's oldest pupil, Stephen Maruge, dies
  9. ^ The Standard, August 26, 2009: Heroic sendoff for world's oldest pupil Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Google Doodle: 11th Anniversary of Kimani Maruge's First Day of School