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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 September 2005, 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK
Kenya OAP school pupil flies high
Kimani Nganga Maruge and classmates
Two of Mr Maruge's grandchildren attend the same school
Kenya's oldest school pupil, 85-year-old Kimani Nganga Maruge, has boarded a plane for the first time in his life - to visit the United States.

He is going to address a United Nations Millennium Development Summit on the importance of free primary education.

The great-grandfather holds the Guinness World Record for being the oldest person to start primary school.

"I am so happy to be flying to New York, it's as though I've gone to heaven," he told the BBC.

Mr Maruge made history last year when he enrolled at Kapkenduywa Primary in Eldoret, after Kenya's government introduced free primary schooling in 2003.

Head boy

The BBC's John Nene in Nairobi says that although Mr Maruge is only in grade two, he is now head boy of the school.

I would also like to marry a rich American woman
Kimani Maruge

Two of his 30 grandchildren attend the same school but they are in more senior grades.

Mr Maruge left Nairobi airport on Thursday morning and is to address the summit next week.

On his trip, sponsored by the aid agency ActionAid, Mr Maruge says he also wants to ask world leaders, including former US President Bill Clinton, to help Kenya fight HIV/Aids.

"If I meet Mr Clinton I'd ask him to put up a hospital in Kenya so Aids patients can get free medicine," he said.

He said he had also pinned his hopes on a romantic attachment abroad.

"I would also like to marry a rich American woman to bring back money for my children. There's no point marrying a poor woman because I'm also poor."

He is being accompanied on his trip by his head teacher, Jane Obinchu, and a Kikuyu interpreter.

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