The Kenyan man named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest pupil, who enrolled in classes to learn to read the Bible and converted to Catholicism in the final years of his life, died in Nairobi on Friday morning at the age of 81.
Stephen Kimani Maruge died at Cheshire Home for the aged after receiving the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick from Comboni missionary Fr. Paulino Mondo, the Catholic Information Service for Africa (CISA) reports. He had lived the last three years of his life at the home, where he ultimately succumbed to cancer of the esophagus.
Fr. Mondo said one of Maruge’s children was present at his death. He reported it was Maruge’s wish to die at the home and said the man would be given a Christian funeral.
In 2003, Maruge enrolled at a primary school in western Kenya after the government of President Mwai Kibaki fulfilled its election pledge to offer free and compulsory primary education.
Maruge, who said he enrolled in order to learn to read the Bible for himself, was in Class Seven at the time of his death.
While at the home for the aged, Maruge was led through the Catechism of the Catholic Church for one and a half years before being baptized at Kariobangi Parish.