Octogenarian learns how to read so he can better understand Bible

May 27, 2011

Nairobi, Kenya, 27May (ENInews) -- A film about Kimani Ng'ang'a Maruge, an
84-year-old man who enrolled in primary school in 2003 so he could learn
to read the Bible, has inspired the creation of an educational charity for
unprivileged children around the world.

Directed by Justin Chadwick and written by Ann Peacock, "The First Grader"
is set in a remote primary school in Kenya's Rift Valley Province. It
depicts the stir Maruge created when, amid hundreds of children jostling for
admission, he arrived at the school, desperate to learn to read despite his
age. Once he could read the Bible, Maruge embraced Christianity, and was
baptized before his death in 2009. The film was released in New York and Los
Angeles on 13 May.

According to a statement on the National Geographic Entertainment website,
Capella University will make a $0.50 donation--up to a total of
$50,000--to three charitable organizations each time the movie's trailer is viewed on
YouTube. The charities, which promote literacy and education around the
world, include Reading is Fundamental, the Minnesota based organization which
provides free books to needy children; Kenya's Kakenya Center, which
support underprivileged girls in the Maasai community; and the South Sudan
Institute, which trains teachers for early child-learning.

Maruge, a veteran of the 1950's Mau Mau independence struggle, said
reading would clear up doubts about his preacher's Sunday sermons. Maruge also
wanted to write a history of the struggle, and count compensation money he
hoped to receive from the British government for abuses he suffered during
the turmoil. In 2004, the Guinness Book of Records listed him as the world's
oldest pupil.

"I cannot understand why somebody should read the Bible for me and preach
things I don't understand. I want to know how to read and write so that I
can read the Holy Book myself," he told the Daily Nation on 17 January, 2004.//

Fr. Paulino Mondo, the Roman Catholic priest who baptized Maruge, said he
had an exceptional spirit. "At that age not many people would attend school…
We need to make sure what he inspired is propagated," Mondo told ENInews
on 26 May.