The will to read

In August of 2009 Kenya newspapers carried articles about the passing of the world’s oldest pupil.  Joseph Stephen Kimani Nganga (un-GAH-un-GAH) Maruge (ma-ROO-gay) had entered primary school at the age of 84! He was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s oldest primary pupil.  When he passed away, they posted a tribute to him http://twurl.nl/tkla17.

Mr. Maruge was two years shy of finishing his primary school education when he passed away.  But he did succeed in his goal.  He told everyone that he was going to school to learn to read his Bible.  And learn to read it he did!  The Associated Press quoted  Anne Maruge, 18, as saying “”In the morning he used to wake up early to read the Bible before going to school.  Even when he fell ill and you found him basking in the sun, often he would be reading the Bible.”

Mr. Maruge’s story reminds me of Pastor Paul Hema.  He was the only pastor in the town of Niangoloko, Burkina Faso when Dayle and I lived there from 1978 through 1981.  He would sit in front of his humble house and read the Bible in the morning.  Even more remarkable was the story of his wife Mariama.

She would also sit outside reading her Bible.   But we knew that she had never been to school.  So we asked her how she learned to read.  She said that one day she told Paul that she wanted to read the Bible like he did and so he should teach her.  He responded that he did not know how to teach someone to read.  Her response was that she was determined to read and that he had better figure out the how to do it.  So he sat down with her beside him every morning while he read the Bible.  He read out loud to her while following along under the words with his finger.  And so, with this ad hoc and unscientific method, Mariama Hema learned to read and began reading the Bible for herself.

Mr Maruge and Mariama Hema put me to shame.  My Bible reading is handed to me on a platter by comparison.

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2 thoughts on “The will to read

  1. Pingback: Why so many languages? | Heart Language Observations

  2. Pingback: Singing the Bible | Heart Language

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