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How Kimnyolei’s historical curse was finally propitiated

Kimnyolei Barbarani araap Turugat, the famous Nandi chief Oorgoiyot is known for many things.


He was the first Nandi to assume the highest and the noblest office in the land. During his tenure, the Nandi speaking communities rose to become the superpower in western Kenya. Animal and crop production became bountiful.

The general welfare of the Nandi community and their military prowess witnessed during defensive and offensive engagements was significant. The community’s glory, honor and dominion over other neighboring states led the Nandi murenik to be stubborn and disobeyed their Oorgoiyot Kimnyolei.

Their disobedience let to the loss of lives of the regiments of kaptumoiis and Kapsiondoi when they raided Kimugoon contrary to Kimnyolei’s advice.

    The events that followed the massacre of the warriors in the fateful and un-authorized raiding expedition were very grave. In the book titled “Unyielding Hope: The life and Times of Koitaleel Somoei”, the authors captures the dismal and the awkward situation the Oorgoiyot found himself in the hands of his subjects.

When Kimnyolei saw his imminent murder, he pronounced the famous curse upon the Nandi and other Kalenjin sub-communities like the Kipsigis. He indicated that the Nandi and the Kipsigiis will be devoid of any credible leadership symbolized by the “tongue” he cut twain after piercing it with thorns. He said “meei ng’elyep Nandi ne kiime tere, kome Kipsigiis ne kiime soto,” loosely translated that the tongue of Nandi leadership will break like a pot, while that of their Kipsigiis cousins will break like a guard or calabash.

After setting his house in order he dispersed his children to different places such as Kipsigis, Elgeiyo and Tugen or Kamasia. He remained behind to die in the hands of those he helped to prosper.

    After his unwarranted stoning around 1890 at Samitui Village in Nandi, the harbingers of the Nandi suffering were seen with the arrival of the British colonialists and the construction of the rail line across the Nandi country.

Political betrayals, suspicions and witch hunting among the prospective leaders have since been witnessed among the Nandi people. This has continued almost over a century until 1997, when the Nandi community came together with the Talai clan to propitiate and cleanse the murder of Kimnyolei thus beginning the reconciliation journey.

    Kaburwo council of elders being the legitimate custodians of the Nandi community heritage was mandated to spear head the reconciliation process that culminated on 31st December 2012. The event hosted at Kapsabet Agricultural Show ground brought together the representatives of the twelve Nandi Pororiosiek and Talai members from Nandi, Kericho, Bomet, Laikipia, Uasin Gishu and Trans Nzoia.

    The day was so nostalgic for it was the very first public demonstration by the Talai clan that they have fully forgiven the Nandi community for the murder of their grandparent Kimnyolei. Having paid in full the recompense for the murder in form of cattle of baseet, the Nandi community was at last relieved of the burden of the historical curse.

No political sentiment was expressed for the officiating elders never allowed politicians and aspirants who were in attendance to talk. Tears of joy, ululation and chants of blessings were witnessed during the ceremony keenly monitored by the Nandi council of elders. The day ended with those who attended affirming that: yes, the Kimnyolei curses have been propitiated at last!

    Kipchoge araap Chomu is a writer,and the Executive Director,Koitaleel Somoei Nandi Foundation.


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