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The First Grader
Naomie Harris, Oliver Musila Litondo
In a small, remote, primary school in the Kenyan bush, hundreds of children are jostling for a chance at free education newly promised by the Kenyan government. One applicant creates a stir when he knocks on the door of the school – Maruge (Litondo), an old Mau Mau veteran in his eighties. Having fought for the liberation of his country, Maruge is desperate to learn how to read at this late stage of his life—even if it means sitting in a classroom alongside six-year-olds.
Full of vitality and humor, the film follows the friendships formed by Maruge and his young classmates who, at first, regard him with curiosity. Throughout his studies, Maruge reflects on his past and the cost of freedom; his playful days of working alongside the children are punctuated by memories of living under British colonial rule and the harsh conditions of the British detention camps.
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