So for a Kenyan, seeing your 89th birthday is a feat in itself. Enter Kimani Maruge. At the age of 84, he has an entry in the Guinness World Records as the oldest person to attend primary school. He’s also the subject of Justin Chadwick’s uplifting tale of a journey to literacy in The First Grader.
Maruge hears that the government is implementing a new policy of education for all. For Maruge, “all” includes him, as he was denied an education while he fought for the liberation of his country from the British. At first he’s denied entrance, but with the help of schoolteacher Jane (Naomie Harris), he’s eventually accepted into the school.
Although clunky in its depiction of Maruge as a freedom fighter, the story tugs at your heartstrings from all directions. Seeing the old man sitting in a classroom with four-year-olds is both amusing and inspirational. He’s unfazed by the arrangement – he’s only concerned about learning.
The First Grader is one of the rare feel-good films you’ll encounter before the end of the year. You’ll leave the cinema a changed person and take to heart the core message of the movie: it’s never too late to (fill in the blank as you see fit).