Kimani Nganga Maruge: It’s Never Too Late to Accomplish Education

Mr Maruge’s message to world leaders: "Thank you for free education."

By Irfan Nugroho
August 14th, 2009, the oldest primary school student in the world, a Kenyan citizen named Kimani Nganga Maruge, deceased at 90 years old.

Mr Maruge was a holder of a Guinness World Record for being the oldest person to start primary school while he was aged at 84 in 2004. One thing that we should learn from the figure Kimani Maruge is that “It’s never too late to accomplish education.”

Mr Maruge was a retired member of Mau Mau independence movement that fought against the British colonials in the 1950s. He was an active soldier thus he never had access to education at his youth.

Aged at 84 in 2004, Mr Mzee – that he used to be called – enrolled at Kepkenduywa Primary School, in Eldoret, Kenya, on January 12, 2004, or a year after the Kenyan Government introduced free primary education in 2003.

He didn’t want to miss the opportunity to gain education. He was eager to be able to count the pension salary he received from the government, and to read the Bible by himself.
He attended the school just like the other kids, who are perhaps at the same ages of his great-grandchildren, did.

Wearing blue blazer, shorts and long socks, Mr Maruge walked to the school – located four kilometers from home – with walking stick on his hand.

“It is hard. There is no one to help me walk. I go alone. But the urge to learn keep me going,” Mr Maruge once told

Since then, Mr Maruge grabbed outstanding achievement at school. He was brilliant in Math, English, and Swahili.

Also, he once told that he was able to provide informal history lesson that he would retrieved from his personal experience.

Mr Maruge had once delivered a speech at United Nations Millennium Development Summit wherein he voiced the urgency of free primary school in New York 2005. And, he asked the world leaders to help Kenya fight against HIV/AIDS.

Mr Maruge has become a minor artist in his own country. He is an icon for free education campaign worldwide. He himself is also a message for us that “It’s never too late to accomplish education.”

References and photos:
Ferrett, Grant. 2004, “Kenya’s Oldest Schoolboy,” available online at retrieved on August 15th, 2009

Cawthorne, Andrew. 2009, “Kenya’s 88-Year-Old Schoolboy,” available online at, retrieved on August, 15th, 2009

______. 2009, “School Pupil, 90, Dies in Kenya,” available online at, retrieved on August 15th, 2009

______. 2009, “Kenya OAP School Pupil Flies High,” available online at, retrieved on August 15th, 2009

Snow, Kate. 2006, “The World Oldest Student?” available online at, retrieved on August 15th, 2009

______. 2005, “Oldest Primary School Pupil In The World Sends Messages To G8,” available online at, retrieved on August 15th, 2009

Yada, Yoda. 2008, “88-year-Old Primary School Student,” available online at, retrieved on August 15th, 2009.