Monday, 5 August 2019

The Challenge of a “Handouts Transactions Economy” in EMC

Friday 26 April 2019
 Paul Kipchumba
 It is certain that it will not come to anyone’s surprise that not a single smart person in our society has managed to live up to their expectations of a reformed society or optimum participation in society affairs since independence. The space between smartness and socio-economic transformation in our society has been taken over by a “handouts transactions economy” conducted by illiterate masses and ignorant politicians.
 Ideally, the professionals are a significant link between the masses and the politicians (who happen to represent a retrogressive trend of professionalism). As soon as these crop of professionals join the “handouts transactions economy” as key stakeholders, they begin to take instructions from illiterate masses and champion their interests, chief among which is to unempower the professionals to sustain a backward economy which is amenable to their outlook in life.
 This “handouts transactions economy” is about KES 50 mentality marketed by politicians and adopted by the masses. The politicians give the masses about KES 50 note every time they have an encounter. This exchange corrupts the minds of the masses and the politicians. Thus it ensures that a codified economy is created and sustained.
For our society to progress there is need for the professionals to take their rightful place to restore the balance. At the moment there is a socio-economic disequilibrium that makes it impossible to transform. If you take the productivity math of our dependency economy you will realize that one professional is equivalent to one thousand masses, or, to be precise, one thousand masses depend on a single professional. But the professionals are not part of the county transformation agenda. So, it means that all the dependency financial remittances send by the professionals to the county end up being consumed by the masses, and that way a vicious cycle of poverty is sustained, while everyone nurses a false hope of a socio-economic transformation in our lifetimes.
While this observation seems rude and arrogant, it is the blunt truth that we rarely confront about our society. For instance, we have got to banish the hand hoe in order to modernize our agriculture. For us to reach a factory system where we export industrial goods, we have to work with talent which is absent among the masses and politicians. Therefore, the responsibility of transforming the society in substantive ways rests with united professionals.
I know that there is some misconception that corruption and other underhand deals can create wealth. In my reading of history I have not come across an example of a corrupt person becoming a first-rate wealthy. They can only escape poverty, sometimes just for a short period. To create brands and products in the market needs a conducive environment that is based on thought and labour. Nearly all individuals who have managed to do anything meaningful in life have done so because they have worked exceedingly hard. The price of everything in life is determined by the amount of labour expended. Where there is no labour, there is no price.
Similarly, I know that such weird suggestions as asking smart people to immigrate to other societies where there is overcapacity is both cowardice and irresponsible. Without a strong local economy it is impossible for immigrants to compete and rank out there. The best hope, therefore, is for the professionals to fight to reform the local economy by taking their rightful position in the society, with dignity and decorum. The masses and the politicians have to be guided.
There was also the question of leadership positions in the society. There is another misconception that political positions are the only major positions of leadership in the society. There are very many of them outside politics. The only problem is that they have not been developed to be even bigger than political positions. I said a while back that we can aspire to have the next pope from EMC, a Bill Gates, an Isaac Newton, a Beethoven, etc. Already we have the finest athletes. But they need to be institutionalized in order to play a dominant role in the society. If we develop all other positions of leadership to reach their rightful influence in the society, political positions will be left to career politicians or to idlers.
But why haven’t the smart people managed to reform their society? The proponents of the “handouts transactions economy” harbour a higher sense of inferiority complex that works on blackmail, negative gossips and scare tactics; however, if the professionals take time to observe keenly and see through, they will realize that the proponents of the “handouts transactions economy” do not have the capacity for a sustained onslaught. Therefore, united professionals can effectively put a stop to the “handouts transactions economy” in EMC.

Banditry in the Kerio Valley is a Community Investment

Paul Kipchumba
Monday 27 May 2019
To be at the receiving end of the reprimands of the Pokot and the Marakwet communities in the Kerio Valley is to utter a couple of statements:
(i) all residents of the Kerio Valley are bandits, save for the degree of banditry;
(ii) all bandits are community properties because since 1900 there is no bandit that has been handed to the government for prosecution;
(iii) there is no way that an illiterate and cashless bandit (except a few) can procure a gun, a hand grenade, and a bullet;
(iv) all dead bandits are community martyrs or heroes and are accorded a funeral honour, and all wounded bandits are supported by the communities; and
(v) all bandits in the Kerio Valley are normal citizens who transact with the government in very many ways and are known by the government.
The government is reluctant to stamp out banditry in the Kerio Valley because it will be tantamount to fighting a whole community; therefore, banditry in the Kerio Valley can only be ended by the two communities involved at their own time and of their own volition. There is already a lot of financial allocation from the national exchequer channeled to the two communities. But their local leaders and policy-makers are reluctant to invest the money in priority areas that can promote economic development in the Kerio Valley such as joint community agricultural and industrial projects, model joint settlements, joint churches and schools, among other innovative approaches.
In my view, the only hope for ending banditry in the Kerio Valley is to promote harmonious coexistence between the Pokot and the Marakwet. However, the beneficiaries of banditry have used it to impoverish the local communities in a way that will sustain a “handouts transactions economy” to guarantee re-election.
I grew up in the Kerio Valley and have researched widely among the Pokot and the Marakwet communities as exemplified by my latest paper “Prof. Wanjala in Culture Work: A Reflection on the Socio-Cultural Profiles of the Pokot and the Marakwet Communities” (Education Tomorrow - Kenya, Issue 5 number 1, January-April 2019). I have established that 70% of the local communities want to see a transformed Kerio Valley, whereas the remaining 30% want to continue using the 70% to champion their selfish interests centring around participation in local politics.
Thus there are two measures for ending banditry in the Kerio Valley: (i) encourage the two communities to fight a lot more until they realize the full picture of sustaining banditry in the Kerio Valley, and (ii) to eliminate the 30% who sustain it. And these are the choices that have put the national government security policy-makers in a dilemma.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

The Dangers of Cattle Rustling Terrorism in the Kerio Valley

There is a developing brand of deadly terrorism in the Kerio Valley section of Baringo (Tiaty) and Elgeyo Marakwet (Marakwet East) counties out of violent cattle rustling activities. It is violent cattle rustling marred by serious disinformation by both local communities and government officials. This threat of cattle rustling terrorism has instilled fear among the local residents and has brought about standstill to development in the region.

Marakwet East and Tiaty sub-counties practise some form of violent cattle rustling using illegal small arms and light weapons, picking from an age-old cattle raiding tradition between the two communities. While there are witnessed vanishing herds in many regions of Kenya, demonstrating some steady transition into modern economy, there is a diametrically opposite development out of the Kerio Valley – cattle rustling terrorism. At the moment it is not clear how far it will go, hence the need to nip it in the bud.

Marakwet East is an economic embarrassment to Elgeyo Marakwet County, whereas Tiaty is an economic embarrassment to Baringo County. However, the leaders of the two sub-counties, especially their members of parliament, are proud individuals. One would have imagined them being demeaned by leading backward regions and so should be at the forefront of fighting cattle rustling terrorism through creative mobilization of their people through joint economic activities and people to people exchanges in such forums as church functions, economic and educational fairs.

It is on this account that I propose national and international sanctions against the members of parliament for Marakwet East and Tiaty Hon. David Kangogo Bowen and Hon. William Kassait Kamket for holding back their people from the much needed economic empowerment, thus compromising with the viability of and trickle-down benefits out of the county system of governance. They should shoulder the ultimate political responsibility for the developing cattle rustling terrorism in the Kerio Valley under their watch.

What is this developing cattle rustling terrorism? The residents of Tiaty depend on the Kerio River for watering their livestock and also for drawing drinking water out of improvised sand dams. The residents of Marawket East depend on the main Biretwo-Tot-Marich Pass Road for active mobility and commerce. The Marakwet cattle rustling terrorists keep ambushing innocent Pokot at the river point, killing them. The Pokot cattle rustling terrorists keep ambushing innocent Marakwet travellers at the main road, killing them, as exemplified by the recent killing of a clinical officer riding on a motorbike. However, the Pokot of Tiaty have paid the additional price of extreme marginalization, and lack of media coverage.

I have had an opportunity to interview both the Pokot and the Marakwet, having lived at the Kerio River between 2012 and 2016 at the Kipchumba Foundation educational settlement at Chepchoren at the border of Marakwet East and Tiaty. Since December 2018 I have managed to engage members of the two communities through social media where I made relevant observations until I published a book: Lessons for Economies in Transition: The Case of Elgeyo Marakwet County (EMC), Kenya (2019). I have scaled up those discussions these past a few days by enabling operationalization of Pokot-Marakwet social media groupings and by adding key Pokot leaders into a premier Elgeyo Marakwet County ideas forum on Whatsapp called EMC Agenda: SWOT Analysis.

While every one of the members of the discussion groups believed that the local police officers knew all the cattle rustling terrorists, it was difficult to ascertain the existence of such data in the hands of the local police. However, the participants strongly recommended empowerment of the National Police Reservists (NPR) by being paid some remuneration from local sources of finances such as Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and allocations to the affected wards. With political and community good will, the NPR should be able to cross the borders to pursue and arrest culprits like in the case of the Pokot and the Turkana counties. There is also some need to recruit more educated NPR and procure advanced security facilities such as night vision goggles and (armed) infrared surveillance drones, within the law.

The peacebuilding efforts between the Pokot and the Turkana, as spearheaded by the governors of West Pokot and Turkana counties, centred on political good will, empowerment of National Police Reservists (NPR), recruitment of peace ambassadors, and massive joint educational investments at the border areas. The Pokot-Marakwet peacebuilding suggestions included identifying and stopping the flow of illegal small arms and light weapons to the Kerio Valley, and borrowing from the northern Uganda case between the Pokot and the Karamojong, where communities were asked to surrender their illegal firearms in exchange for development through the Ministry for Karamoja Affairs.

There were also some suggestions such as adoption of modern livestock breeds, land demarcation, paddocking of grazing areas to create multi-layered barriers, allowing Pokot herders to graze on the vast abandoned Marakwet meadows at a fee, and prevention of the violent cattle rustling activities from degenerating into cattle rustling warlordism, perpetrated by organized armed militia, as there are enough illegal small arms and light weapons in the region to make it easy to form a highly capable fighting force.

Finally, there is need to mobilize the counties of Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot to invest in joint development projects along the Kerio Valley in a bid to redirect their people into meaningful economic activities. The prevailing aloofness of duty bearers amid emerging cattle rustling terrorism should be punished for being a major encumbrance to the attainment of the goals of the county and national governments, and the aspirations of the people of Kenya. One way to do this is move the residents of the Kerio Valley to the nearest commercial centres by building low-cost houses for them, using locally available materials; ensuring that all local government officials who lie about the developing home-grown (cattle rustling) terrorism in the Kerio Valley should be dismissed forthwith.

An Ode against Convenience Leaderships in Elgeyo Marakwet County (EMC)

In a discussion last evening in a Whatsapp group I promised to write this brief protest note.

The problems bedevilling EMC include
1.      capital outflow – as a result of convenience leaderships, and
2.      lack of capital inflow – as a result of unproductive staff.
The county leaderships view occupying a leadership position as a lifestyle convenience, not sacrifice and commitment like in the case of Christian missionaries who built most of the structures, especially schools and health centres, which we take pride in.

At the moment EMC does not have full-time senior staff but part-time consultants operating from Uasin Gishu County (Eldoret Town). By this measure alone EMC is a big corruption pipe that is used to siphon money from the national exchequer to develop neighbouring counties.  And it is the most serious happening in 21st century – leaders who do not have confidence in the regions they lead.  Until we address this glaring pilferage of public resources, EMC has no moral authority to tax her residents whom they don’t buy from.

In addition, there is no concerted effort towards attracting investments or carrying out viable and productive investments in EMC. There is only a talk of increase in allocation of finances from Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA), even though it is clear that going forward such formulas used in the allocation of monies to counties will only favour producing counties, not consuming and wasteful ones like EMC.

I suggest that
1.      EMC should curb capital outflow by employing only those who are committed to live, work, and operate within the county, and
2.     all future discussions about EMC, especially with the professionals and other stakeholders, should include mechanisms for curbing capital outflows and inducing capital inflows.

#Say No to Convenience Leaderships in EMC!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Elgeyo Marakwet Councillors, 13 September 1925 - 1 May 1963


[Up to 1932 are mainly Marakwet Councillors]
There have been twelve major new appointments to the Marakwet Local Native Council and Elgeyo-Marakwet African District Council between 1925 and 1963. The appointments were made in 1925, 1928, 1931, 1935 (after amalgamation), 1941, 1945, 1948, 1950, 1954, 1957, and 1960. The appointments of 1925 were made through the powers of the Local Authority Ordinance of 1924. On 2 December 1944 the DC Tambach realized that the council had overrun its three-year term.
The elections were conducted in baraza by acclamation. Chiefs were only nominated and not elected. A woman was appointed to the council for the first time in 1957.
There are some spelling inconsistencies with some names like Ayabei/ Aiyabei, Kitei/ Kite, Mirriam/ Miriam. In addition, Gazette notice no. 1086 of 20 February 1962 appointed Chief Willie Kipto arap Chirchir to replace DC Elgeyo-Marakwet as the chairman to the council.
The existing locations were adjusted in 1957. The change was effected via DC’S notice of 22 February 1957 as follows:
Mokoro and Endo were merged to form Endo
Sambirir remained unchanged
Talai and Kibuswa were merged into Moiben
Sengwer and Cherangany became Cherangany
Kapchemutwa, Irong and Mutei were merged into Irong
Valley areas of Rokocho, Marichor, Tumeyo and Metkei became Soy
Upper areas of Rokocho, Marichor, Tumeyo and Metkei formed Mosop.
Elgeyo-Marakwet African District Council joined Sirikwa County Council together with Nandi, Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia, and West Pokot on 1 May 1963 according to the 11 April 1963 letter circulated by the secretary to the council following the proceedings of the amalgamation meeting of Friday 24 November 1961.

The Councillors and their Developments

  1. Government legal notice no. 393 of 23 September 1925
Twelve appointments were made to the council [the names were not visible from the reports]

  1. Government legal notice no. 467 of 13 September 1928.

Kipseswa arap Kitur
Kipsobuch arap Kaino
Kaburuet arap Kapchebos
Cherop arap Chesum
Chelanga arap Kipsanga
Yego arap Chepkorat

Yano arap Kipkech
Muruong’ot arap Sitienei
Chesseweo arap Kipteres
Kipkech arap Chelagat
Kisang arap Talai
Lokityang arap Lasero

Kipsobuch arap Kaino resigned and was replaced by Kirop arap Kipkeyo through government notice no. 142 of 27 February 1929. Kisang arap Talai replaced Cheboi arap Yego through government notice no. 510 of 25 July 1929. Yano arap Kipkech and Kaburuet arap Kapchebos resigned and were replaced by Kimengich arap Chelal and Kipchepkis arap Tegeroi by the government notice no. 736 of 9 December 1930.

  1. Government legal notice no. September 1931
[The actual names could not be found]

  1. Government legal notice no. 212 of 19 March 1935

Sixteen appointments:
Chepkok arap Kisang
Chesire arap Kipkuto
Chebi arap Bomonei
Chelanga arap Kiborus
Kipkoisin arap Kanda
Kipkese arap Ruto
Sero arap Cheso
Kiyai Kimagarech
Chepkurugat arap Chemusai
Kipkulei arap Bartai
Chepto arap Kipkech
Chepkonga arap Kitoto
Cheserem arap Kimoning
Kiplech arap Kipkech
Kiblesanfg arap Termus
Cheserem arap Lesil

Cherumben arap Kipterin replaced Cheserem arap Lesil who had resigned through government legal notice no. 329 of 29 April 1935. Through the same notice Chebaswonyi arap Kibaliat replaced Kiblesang arap Termus. Kiptoris arap Chepkochoi replaced Kipkoisir arap Kanda in 1936.

  1. Government legal notice no. 197 of 7 March 1938

Busiendich arap Mursabit
Chepto arap Kech
Cheptiram arap Cheso
Kipkulei arap Bartai
Cheserem arap Kimoning
Chepkurgat ara Chemasai
Chemwerem arap Masingoi
Sero arap Cheso

Cheserek arap Chesang
Kipkore arap Kitany
Chemelil arap Komen
Chelanga arap Kiborus
Chepkonga arap Kitoto
Chebi arap Bomonei
Chesire arap Kipkuto
Yego arap Mamandogi

On 30 June 1939 Chief Chemweno Kibor of Kibuswa was nominated into the council through an appeal by the DC Elgeyo-Marakwet to E. N. Hewitt, PC Nakuru, claiming that the chief was progressive and should not have to serve in land board with not as many deliberations as the council. Chemweno was fully incorporated in July 1939.

  1. Government legal notice no. 516 of 31 May 1941

Sowe Kibiap, Marichor
Kite Tiren, Irong
Kigen Cheptum, Mutei
Chief Kipto Kisang, Sambirir
Kimuge Chemchor, Kapchemutwa

Chief Busiendich Mursabit, Endo
Cheserek Kisang, Mokoro
Samalit Kipkech, Sambirir
Chemweno Chesir, Talai
Chelang’a Kiborus, Kibuswa
Kibos Kipsurgat, Cherangany
Kipkwen Cheresim, Sengwer
Chief Cheptiram Cheso, Kapchemutwa
Kipkulei Bartai, Irong
Chebi Bomonei, Mutei
Chelagat Baramao, Rokocho
Chesire Chepkuto, Maraichor
Chief Chemwerem Masingoi, Tumeyo
Yego Mamandogi, Metkei

Chief Kipsaina arap Kipkulei of Irong is nominated to the council through the government legal notice no. 705 of 8 August 1941. Kipkuto arap Chebi is nominated to the council as a representative of Mokoro on 25 November 1942. Kipsaina arap Kipkulei dies and is replaced by Chief Suter arap Kimeto on 19 January 1944.

  1. Government legal notice no. ? of 7 March 1945

Kipto arap Kisang
Chemweno arap Chebor
Chepterit arap Chebi
Mikail Kiprop
Joshua Kibobei
Jacob Suter
Michael Bundotich
Joshua Cheptum
Kite arap Tiren
Chemwerem arap Masingoi

Yego arap Mamandogi
Barmao arap Chebii
Chesire arap Ruto
Chelagat arap Barmao
Chebii arap Bomonei
Cherutich arap Tarei
Kimuge arap Chemchor
Samuel Koilege
Ruto arap Chebere
Chebi arap Chelanga
Kipto arap Chebet
Kipkiror arap Cheserek
Kiptalam arap Simbolei
Kipkwen arap Cheresim

Through government legal notice no. 980 of 9 October 1947 Elijah Chemweno replaced Joshua arap Cheptum who had resigned.

  1. Government legal notice no. 192 of 20 February 1948

Chief Chemweno arap Chebor
Chief Michael Kiprop arap Cheptorus
Chief Kipto Kisang
Chief Yego arap Mamandogi
Michael Chelimo arap Bundotich
Joshua Isioi arap Chebobei
Chepterit arap Keture
Elijah arap Chemweno
Henry Ongoi arap Kibet
Kite arap Tiren

Kilimo arap Cheserek
Kibowen arap Siter
Chebii arap Chelang’a
Ruto arap Cheberi
Cherutich arap Yano
Cheboi arap Chemitei
Kapcheptai arap Sirma
Edward Chelagat arap Chebor
Cherutich arap Tarei
Chepkurui arap Chepto
Bartilol ara Rotich
Kipto arap Chirchir
Chemworem arap Masingoi
Kipkaos arap Cherop

Six of the councillors were pronounced illiterate by an accompanying report. But it is hard to establish who is who among them.
On 25 May 1948 Chebiego arap Chebuluny replaces Cherutich arap Tarei who had retired. Through government notice no. 245 of 3 March 1950 Chepkiyeng arap Kibaror replaces Cherutich arap Yano who had retired and Cheserek arap Mariwot replaces Kibowen arap Suter who had also retired through government legal notice no. 575 of 20 May 1950.

  1. Government legal notice no. 643 of 28 May 1948

Henry Ongoi arap Kibet, Cherangany
Lazaro arap Chepto, Kessup i.e. AIC
Lazaro arap Chumo, Nerkwo i.e. Roman Catholic
Sormwei arap Cheptum, Metkei
Chepterit arap Keture, Talai
Kite arap Terin, Irong
William arap Kimurgor
Chemweno arap Chebor
Kisang Kibor, Mokoro
Salim arap Chepkeitany, Mutei
Ayabei arap Koech, Tumeiyo

Kipkiror arap Lasero, Endo
Kipkiror arap Kibor, Mokoro
Cherop arap Chebi, Sambirir
Daudi arap Kobuswa, Talai
Luka arap Kiptabus, Kibuswa
Cheboi arap Chemitei, Cherangany
Henry Ongoi arap Kibet, Cherangany
Kipchumba arap Lawich, Sengwer
Edward Chelagat arap Chepto, Kapchemutwa
Bartilol arap Rotich, Rokocho
Chebore arap Ruto, Tumeiyo
Kipto arap Komen, Metkei
Kipto arap Chirchir, Marichor
Chepkurui arap Chepto, Mutei
Chumo arap kandie, Lelan

There was an additional nomination in 1951 of Blasio Chebiego arap Kimona. Through government legal notice no. 866 of 18 May 1953 Cherutich arap Koigoch replaced Kipchumba arap Lawich who was convicted of a felony and was removed through government legal notice no. 237 of 1953.

  1. Government legal notice no. 1095 of 27 July 1954

Chief Chemweno arap Chebor, Kibuswa
Chief Salim Chelelgo arap Chepkaitany, Mutei
Chief Kipto arap Kisang, Sambirir
Chepterit arap Keture, Talai
Henry Ongoi arap Kibet, Cherangany
Kite arap Tiren, Irong
John Kotut arap Koitie, G. A. School
Chesang arap Kirorio, Mutei
Sormwei arap Cheptum, Metkei

James arap Keitaba, Cherangany
Chumo arap kandie, Lelan
Kiboen arap Kimwasai, Sengwer
Kibiwot arap Cheboi, Sambirir
Edward arap Cheplagat, Kapchemutwa
Daudi arap Kapkabuswa, Talai
Luka arap Kiptabus, Kibuswa
Lazaro arap Chumo, Irong
Bartilol arap Rotich, Rokocho
Paulo arap Kipkoisir, Mutei
Kipto arap Chirchir, Marichor
Kipkiror arap Chemeitoi, Endo
William arap Cheraisi, Tumeyo
B. Kitum Kaino, Mokoro
Kipto arap Kimulwa, Metkei

Henry Ongoi resigned by not getting along with the chief. Edward Chelanga was convicted of cedar misappropriation in Shaw’s Concession and was asked to defend himself against removal from the council. He wrote a letter dated 19 June 1956 to the PC through DC. It is not clear what happened thereafter. Chief Kisang Kirop replaced Henry Ongoi arap Kibet on 24 January 1957.

  1. Government legal notice no. 2740 of 31 July 1957

Senior Chief Chemweno arap Chebor
Chief Willima Cherop arap Murgor
Chief Kiptoo arap Chirchir
Chief Kisang arap Kirop
Chief Cheboi arap Chemitei
Chepterit arap Keture
Kite arap Tiren
Chesang arap Kirorio
Kiprono arap Kibogy
Mirriam Chepto

Salim Chelelgo arap Chepkaitany, Irong
Lazaro Ayabei arap Chumo
Edward Chelagat arap Chebet
Suter arap Chepkiyeng, Moiben
Joel Kibet arap Chebor
Josia Chemchor arap Katam, Soy
Cheboi arap Chepkenji, Soy
Chepkonga arap Maina, Mosop
James Cheptuigeny arap Ruto
Bernard Kaino arap Kitum, Endo
Kipkiror arap Chemeito, Endo
Kibiwot arap Cheboi, Sambirir
Kiptonui arap Rotich, Sengwer
Chepkurui arap Misto, Cherangany
Kimaget arap Surungai, Lelan

Ishmael Koimur (AIC School supervisor) from Marakwet was recommended to be incorporated into the council by DC on 10 October 1957 to balance Elgeyo numeric strength in the council.  Cheserek arap Talai replaced Bernard Kaino arap Kitum who had resigned through government legal notice no. 2890 of 9 August 1958.

  1. Government legal notice no. 1562 of 24 March 1960

Senior Chief Chemweno arap Chebor
Chief William Christpher Cherop arap Murgor
Chief Willie Kipto arap Chirchir
Chief Kisan arap Kirop
Chief Henry Ongoi arap Kibet
Chief Kibor arap Talai
Kite arap Tiren
Chepterit arap Keture
Edward Chelagat arap Kibogy
Miriam Chepto

James Kiptuigeny arap Ruto
Chepkonga arap Maina
Cheboi arap Chepkenji
Rotich arap Muzee
Festo Lelit arap Kiplabul
Lazaro Aiyabei arap Chumo
Sila Kwambai arap Chepkultany
Joel Kibet arap Chebor
Isaiah Chebobei arap Alogin
Kiptonui arap Rotich
Kimeto arap Anwan
Kimaget arap Surungai
Bernard Kipkwony arap Bett
Cheserek arap Talai
Alexander Kirotich arap Chemeitoi

Four of the councillors Festo Lelit arap Kiplabul, Lazaro Aiyabei arap Chumo, Kimeto arap Anwan, and Bernard Kipkwony arap Bett were to be retired in 1962 according to the 13 March 1962 circular by the secretary to the council.
Cheserek arap Talai was disqualified on 7 August 1961 after being granted a nine-month sentence by the court at Tambach. He was replaced by Gabriel Kirop arap Chebet who was sworn in on 17 July 1961 at ADC Hall Tambach by DC J. A. Gardner. Arap Chebet was returned by majority votes on 12 May 1962. In addition, Miriam Chepto resigned and was replaced by Naomi Kipyab through government legal notice no. 4201 of 23 August 1961 together with Arap Chebet.
Resignations of Cheboi Chepkenji and Sila Kwambai arap Chepkultany were recognized through government legal notice no. 4699 of 12 October 1962 with the replacements of Zakayo Kipset arap Chebet and Martin Limo arap Kibaliat.
Several replacements were effected through Gazette notice 2691 of 12 June 1962: Lazaro Ayabei arap Chumo replaced Willie C. Cherop arap Murgor and Elijah Kiplelemet arap Chemweno replaced Wilie Kipto arap Chirchir in the first schedule; in the second schedule Mathew Kigen arap Komen replaced Festo Lelit arap Kiplabul, Henry Chepyator arap Chelimo replaced Lazaro Ayabei arap Chumo, and Chepkurui arap Kimisto replaced Kimeto arap Anwan, and Paulo Kilowin arap Chellewa replaced Bernard Kipkony arap Bett.

Centralism* of Marakwet Superstitions

Marakwet superstitions are among the most pertinent concepts in the attempt at arriving at a cumulative understanding of Marakwet culture. A network of other concepts like religion, magic, rite, ritual, spiritualism, deism, taboo, myth, legend, folklore, etc. cloud them that it is necessary to be set apart. But the challenge will still remain with the possibility of delineating them within the Marakwet socio-cultural sphere.

Superstition is derived from the Latin word superstes composed of super (over, beyond) and –sto (to stand). Therefore, traditionally superstition meant a religion-like belief that stands outside clerical religion.  But this meaning has been corrupted both by the modern English culture and the Western Christian religion prompting it to take derogatory meanings towards the perception of other cultures. It is also noted to take within the folkloristic definitions if/then form more or less like the taboos. Depending on the particular culture, superstition refers to culturally variable beliefs in a supernatural reality of things that are not fully understood, especially in the realms of death, luck, spirits, animals, weather, etc. According to Oxford Dictionary superstition is an excessively credulous believe in and reverence for the supernatural i.e. a widely held but irrational belief in supernatural influences, especially as bringing good or bad luck. Wikipedia Encyclopedia defines superstition as the belief that events are influenced by specific behaviours, without having a causal relationship. Both definitions have one thing in common: they hold it firmly that superstition is a belief. But they fail to justify the presence of supernatural influence and the lack of causal relationship in the events taking place. Religion is a belief too.

Religion is the believe in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods i.e. a particular system of faith or worship; a pursuit or interest followed with devotion.  Therefore, religion is one form of superstition. It entails superstitious practices like afterlife, apparitions, prayer, incantations, etc. According to Veyne (1987: 211), the fear of gods by the Greek or Roman pagans constitute what they meant by superstition. But the Roman Catholic Church considers superstition sinful as it contravenes the first Commandment. Marakwet religion is a superstition. It is part of daily experience. There are about six pillars that make it. They are asis (the Sun), oi (the Living Spirits), iilat (Thunder/ Lightning/ Giant), tyony (Wild Game), chaak (Domestic Animals), and piich cho ting’ei met (Human Specialists). They operate in a typical communication model like the following where
i.                    G will send message of complaint directly to A. A will contact D to send warning signals or suggestions for correction to G through F in the form of dreams. D may reveal the warnings on the offal of E to F who will convey to G. If there is no corrective measure enacted, A will observe directly or will get the feedback through D. A will then instruct B or C to enforce the corrective measure depending on the environment and time of the year.
ii.                  A is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. B, C and D are agents of A. They enjoy direct communication and take instructions from A.
iii.                The measures that have been enforced by B and C include the division of disputed land or killing of arrogant people. Some of the wild creatures represented by B include the python, the buffalo or the elephant that is known to bury people alive.

Fig. Marakwet Religious Communication Model



A: asis (protector; omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient)
B: tyony (enforcing agent)
C: iilat (enforcing agent)
D: oi (intermediary; warning signal; verbal communication)
E: chaak (communication channel i.e. written form)
F: piich cho ting’ei met (link between living spirits and common mortals)
G: piich (common mortals), and
H: Marakwet fears and psychologies i.e. superstitions
         Direction of instruction, action, message or feedback  

Previously, it was held that there are only three pillars of Marakwet religion that comprise the sun, the living spirits and the thunder (Kipkorir, 1973). It now comes out clearly that the conclusion is still facing many challenges of an emerging knowledge. This model puts thunder and wild game at the same level of enforcing corrective measures. A python can equally divide a disputed land in lowlands as the thunder can in upland areas. A buffalo or an elephant can kill in lowland areas as much as the thunder can kill in upland areas. Places like Kachebukus along Embo Mon have experienced the unchallenged corrective measures of the thunder in areas of Endiwa where stolen donkeys were killed and a disputed piece of land was divided along the disputed border in 1994. The other introductions are the human specialists and the domestic animals, especially the goats. It is entirely commonsense in Marakwet that the living spirits cannot communicate directly with the victim or suspect. They pass through the human specialists in the area at night. The same message can also be passed to the same specialists incidentally through the animal offal. A spear can be projected slanting on the liver of an animal, a burning house can be seen or even the flooded River Kerio is shown on the intestines. There is no negotiation between the thunder, wild animals and the common man, although there are undisputed cases along the rivers where a giant can ask anyone at night not to disturb his family. This then poses another serious challenge, is a giant the same as thunder? Giants are found in stories, and sometimes giants can manifest as thunder, especially when a jealous human suitor kills a giant suitor in the row over a beautiful girl. The incidents transpire along the river, and thunder and lightning is the common sight, whereby it is followed by heavy rain. According to Kipkoech Aarap Sambu (2007) iilat exhibits both evil and good sides. According to a section of Marakwet oral narratives (called giant tales by Paul Kipchumba, unpublished manuscript), there are three settings of the giants and in essence there are three kinds of giants. There are those giants that live under water, those that reside on land or on dry rivers (and are called kimakeetoi/ chebokeri/ chemosit/ kakipampich) and those that reside in space. Both of them are dangerous by their standards. But the ones that live in space are the most feared, as they appear within a very short time and can do destructions that can only be matched by earthquake/ tremor (kiprong’rong’). These destructions by iilat are quite often referred to as natural calamities.

From the foregoing understanding of iilat, we can ask ourselves, which kind of sins whose punishments are executed by the giants of underwater, land or space, and which ones are administered by the common mortals? In addition, there are the Toiyoi kinds of iilat, or the totemic ascription of such a clan. The toiyoi is perceived to be a provider of water. That is why when we check on Marakwet sayings we can get one like Toiyoi Per, expressing an aspect of generosity with water according to the Marakwet. The same saying relates to expressions like perepo reel (water belonging to the jackal). But to understand more we are forced to reflect on the Kapchesum ritual whereby a ring called tekeryon is protected by the toyoi version of iilat. If one drowns, it is possible to recover the hand carrying the ring but not the entire body.
There is a two-way communication only between the mortals and living spirits/ the ancestors. This does not constitute ancestor worship as such. This is manifested by the koros in which reference is often made to the angry and hungry ancestors, although there is no asking the ancestors to convey the message to asis. It is then tricky if we can conclude that there are situations that prompt the common mortal to refer to the asis and those that he/ she can seek redress from the oi. Whether solution that comes to the common mortal every now and then is the initiative of the oi or the solution given by the ais is a bit interesting. If we go further and consider the kinds of crimes, sins, wrongdoing or antisocial behaviours that are typical of Marakwet kind of life, we find that they are varied. At what level a certain wrongdoing is redressed is also a question that needs further study. 

There are some key terminologies relating to the concept of crime, sin, wrongdoing and antisocial behaviours according to both the ancient and the contemporary Marakwet civilization. They include
Ng’oki—it is the most serious of all the sins and has long lasting influence over the socio-political life of an individual.
Tengek—this is a common blunder or mistake, especially that is not permissible but can be relegated to the domain of inconsequentiality.
Takal—it is a day-to-day sin that is practised by certain cliques of people, especially the drunk or some sections of the youth. Women are known to detest any mention of takal. Takal can also be abusive language mostly relating to sex or forbidden acts of reproduction. This is defined by Kipkorir (1973: 38) as a purely social offence.
Pirep/ pirop solwonti—play or less serious jokes that quite often amount to irresponsibility. They are practised by children and are sometimes found offensive by the older folk.
Kiret—they are taboos.
Chalwok—they are situational taboos. In the song chalwokin kipsoiwo…, the situation in which this happens is limited to either waking up, planting or harvest time.
In this respect we encounter more or less related terminologies that try to explain sin. Muma, for example, is not a kind of sin but an example of a serious sin. The other examples of wrongdoing  are mulsyo (abusing someone), ponit (witchcraft), ng’atkong (jealousy), mukulor (hot temperament), saratanti (laziness), chorsyo (theft/ stealing/ robbery), incest, unfair raid, kiptuima (unsolicited sex/ rape), adultery, wife battering, assault, failing to perform communal duty, land disputes, murder, or failure to obey verdict among others.

The traditional Marakwets believe that sin can be intended, unintended or social breach. In the traditional understanding any wrongdoing that has happened but exonerates the victim on preliminary assessment is considered an intended. For example, if you shoot a herder when you were shooting an antelope because you did not see the herder and because you missed the antelope and that the antelope constitute the day-to-day survival of the hunter, this is considered an unintended wrongdoing. If you decide to kill someone deliberately because he/she has become a nuisance to you without reporting to the kok (immediate assembly of elders), this is a serious wrongdoing, and it was intended. If an older person goes for kiptuima, he goes beyond the social boundaries permitting kiptuima, and this is considered social breach and can either be taken seriously or solved by public ridicule.

Forms of wrongdoing like unsolicited sex (kiptuima/ pirech) or water diversion have a boundary that makes them either wrongdoing or normal ways of life. In black fire the society permits young boys who have had no confidence to ask a woman for sexual intercourse to engage in sexual acts by way of technical rape that is highly regulated by the existing norms. It is only less strict for those who are young and are perceived not to possess the capability to impregnate, and, in the same respect, they should be uncircumcised. Penalty of probably eight goats in some areas of Marakwet is imposed on those who engage in this activity when they are regarded as adults through circumcision. That is why the young are always asked before circumcision to decide whether to be circumcised and lose the privileges or not and enjoy any associated advantages. For water diversion, some elder of a certain clan can decide to divert water that is utilized by another elder to irrigate his shamba and put a leaf or a headdress (kutwo) on the point of diversion to indicate that his crops have probably withered of which failure to irrigate will lead to total loss.

Robbery, adultery or incest (marrying within the boundaries described as consanguine) are some of the serious kinds of wrongdoing in Marakwet. They also include sins or mistakes of historical origin whereby children can find themselves having to repay the debts of their parents or they are living in a land that is highly disputed. For lack of a better word these sins can be seen as intentional or accidental. Robbery in this category is intentional while a shot that was aimed at a wild game but by accident kills a hunter or a herder is accidental. Unfortunately according to the Marakwet legal system there is only a big sin and small sin but within the entire understanding of mistakes. That is why in Marakwet there is punishment of the crime act and not for the criminal. For instance, the ostracization of a person convicted of murder does not aim at punishing the victim but the crime. This can also be seen along the larger system of collective responsibility on clan basis in case of murder.

On the contrary, the early Christian missionaries failed to understand many of these things and renamed Western equivalents that have since glossed the truth. There is the reference of oi or chesawil as devils as opposed to the correct Marakwet interpretation that puts chesawil leniently as a bad influence. Kipkoeech Aarap Sambu (2007) notes that although the missionaries brought a negative influence on the true understanding of Kalenjin religion, there are other areas like the totems that the missionaries did not penetrate and the truth about them as in the original setting still holds. Therefore, the understanding of sin according to the Marakwet is not the understanding of evil as the Western Christians claim, but an appreciation of the magnificence of what has hitherto remained unknown in the realm of socio-religious structure of the Marakwet.

But a story like of the sun, the moon, man and the elephant (Kipkorir, 1973: 13) depicting man as the most dangerous creature seems conflicting in the general trend towards regarding the Sun (chebet) as the superior being; however, it may count in illustrating the concept of the sun as falling within the boundary of human fears and psychologies.

There are other supposed elements of Marakwet religion that are worth considering. There is the awaya (white donkey) visible on moonlit nights. Whether this is a fictional character in stories, it is not yet ascertained. But people fear it. There are also questions to be raised with regard to conducting koros (appeasement/ offering). Who are being referred to? The answer is angry and hungry spirits. Therefore, the oi have both good and bad sides. (But up to now there is no word for religion in Marakwet apart from siyei that is not even confirmed.)

When compared with magic superstition is more passive. Magic contains formulae, petitions, recipes, prayers or love songs for affecting the future outcomes by means of symbolic and, perhaps, non-causal activities. However, people who practice magic observe superstitions (Wikimedia). The Oxford Dictionary defines magic as the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.

On the other hand, myths and legends fall within folklore. Folklore is the traditional beliefs and customs of a community, passed on by word of mouth. Myth is a traditional story concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events; a widely held but false belief. But Finnegan (1976: 361/2) while quoting Bascom gives a definition that is nearly realistic to African understanding of myth while at the same time appreciating and refuting Bascom’s definition that she terms Western. Bascom defines myths as
“Prose narratives which, in the society in which they are told, are considered to be truthful accounts of what happened in the remote past. They are accepted on faith; they are taught to be believed; and they can be cited as authority to ignorance, doubt or disbelief. Myths are the embodiment of dogma; they are usually sacred; and they are often associated with theology and ritual. Their main characters are…animals, deities, or culture heroes, whose actions are set in an earlier world, when the earth was different from what it is today, or in another world such as the sky or underworld…”
According to Finnegan this definition fails to recognize that in African myths the gods, deities or the supernatural play a rather secondary role and that the myths are not as authoritative as attested by Bascom. The Kipteber story of Marakwet whereby a stone fell down when people were in a wedding ceremony has no overt reference of deities as major characters, although it is a classic Marakwet myth. The crow, the people in the wedding and the falling rock are some of the major characters. The story is also devoid of religious connection as Finnegan (1976: 367) confirms lack of religious narratives in African oral literature:
“But at the moment the general impression remains a lack of formulated religious narratives among most African peoples.”
Anyway, African myths have aetiological element like the Kipteber narrative explaining the origin of the rock.

Legends on the other hand are historical narratives of recent past in the development of a people’s culture:
“…, although ‘legends’ seems to have become the common term when describing oral historical narratives or, sometimes, those in whose truth the commentator himself has little faith. This general class of narratives covers those which are regarded locally as true, particularly by the narrator himself and his immediate audience, but differ from myths in being set in a much less remote period when the world was much as it is today. They depict the deeds of human rather than supernatural heroes and deal with, or allude to, events such as migrations, wars, or establishment of ruling dynasties” (Finnegan, 1976: 368).

Other related terminologies include mysticism, spiritualism and deism. Mysticism are the beliefs or state of mind characteristic of mystics (those who seek contemplation and self-surrender to attain unity with the deity or the absolute, and so reach truths beyond human understanding); vague or ill-defined religious or spiritual beliefs, especially as associated with a belief in the occult. Spiritualism is a system of belief or religious practice based on supposed communication with the spirits of the dead, especially through mediums, and deism is the belief in the existence of a supreme being, specifically of a creator who does not intervene in the universe. All concepts bear some intimate semblance with superstition, but there is the big limitation of basing proper understanding of concepts on dictionary definitions.

It is apparent that superstitions take care of all other related concepts as outlined above and much more that is yet to be related. Some of the Marakwet superstitions are
i.                    When on a journey and a tree falls in front of you, a stone rolls ahead or a snake or duiker (siran) crosses your eyes, you postpone the mission.
ii.                  When someone dreams of something bad likely to happen to you, you prepare enough pots of liquor for the old men to cleanse you.
iii.                Do not go on a war when your wife is expectant.
iv.                Do not look at a corpse when you are expectant.
v.                  Do not be the first to talk in an assembly of old men when your wife is expectant.
vi.                When a woodpecker chirps on you when on a journey, you postpone it.
vii.              When an owl howls at your home at night, you curse it away by throwing burning embers at it.
viii.            When kimakau or kipchiwew (kinds of birds) scratch your forehead, you curse them.
ix.                When called by someone on your way downward the homestead, you curse it away or postpone the mission.
x.                  Do not shoot or stone a hawk or a crow because you will be blind.
xi.                Pour milk on a frog found inside the hut.
xii.              If you find scratch marks of the claws of the paws of a cat/ dog/ fox put a leaf on top.
xiii.            When on a journey and your left foot/ toe knocks at a stone, you postpone the journey because it is a sign of bad luck.
xiv.            “Do not kill an enemy who has taken refuge up a tree or in a plantation” (Kipkorir, 1973: 38).
xv.              When the Arabian Desert dust (chepkalas) reaches the land, you beat dry hides (mur) or kaser (hide saucepan).
xvi.            “When on a journey and you find two snakes intertwined, you postpone the journey” (Kipkorir, 1973: 41).
xvii.          When you spot a witch at night, make sure you hit her till she sheds some blood.
xviii.        “Kill a sheep which jumps onto its owner’s bed or a goat which returns home early from grazing” (Kipkorir, 1973: 42).
xix.            A woman who is not past the menopause should not divert water from the confluence/ water furrow.
xx.              A woman should not thatch a house.
What is evident from these examples is the thin line between superstitions and the so-called taboos. A taboo is a social or religious custom placing prohibition or restriction on a particular thing or person; anything prohibited or restricted by social custom. A taboo like “It is a taboo to eat meat and drink milk at the same time, unless the meat is wild” is more or less like postponing a mission when a tree falls on your way. They can result to bad luck either to the person or the thing under scrutiny. But the distinction between the two is the overt reference to bad luck when it comes to superstition and the covert reference with taboos. But example xv of chepkalas is both a superstition and ritual. There is a prescribed way of cursing chepkalas i.e. beating a dry hide. The inverse is true if we rewrite the superstitions above. They will become acceptable taboos; for instance example xvii, “It is a taboo not to kill a sheep that has jumped onto its owner’s bed”.

It becomes even clearer if we relate rite with ritual. A rite is a religious or other solemn ceremony or act, whereas a ritual is a religious or solemn ceremony involving a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order, or a prescribed order of performing such a ceremony; a series of actions habitually and invariably followed by someone. Rituals can be performed on regular times or on specific occasions and have highly symbolic functions at both personal and communal levels. They accompany rites. And there are about four rites of passage in Marakwet. They include birth, circumcision, marriage and death. There are many rituals in any one of them. At birth there is the nursing of the unborn baby that prompts the expectant mother to be visiting diviners and witchdoctors, then come the rituals of delivery and naming. Naming as a ritual has several sub-rituals that are highly superstitious like “If the kolomper (ritual implement) does not balance, the name called is not valid”. This is likewise to circumcision where there is the first ritual of requesting to be circumcised, cutting firewood, or the act of circumcising, etc. It is the same for marriage and death. Everything is highly superstitious, as it entails bad or good luck depending on how it is conducted. If it is done the right way, there is good luck; if it is done the wrong way, there is bad luck. Tumpo serun/ sorun has been an interesting ritual that is highly religious and superstitious. People would drop themselves down a cliff as a way of exercising judgement. But only people who are considered arrogant (kipaasa) were dropped, as their relatives accompanied them to witness the death i.e. paternal kin and maternal uncles (kapoor and kamaama). If anyone survived, he/ she was considered pure; if anyone died but was pure, it was by sheer bad luck. This ritual was done at Kacheptiol, Mokoro Location, Tot Division, Marakwet District. The place of the ritual is rocky and believable to the locals there. This together with chepkalas, and kotoon (begging mission/ succor) form some of the ritualistic superstitions that are worth considering.

Even in the coordination of Marakwet traditional communication system, if anyone fails to reach the message the required destination, it is obviously perceptible that bad luck will dog his/ her way. The kokeel (stars) and creatures like the frog that croak signifying the approach of raining season or good harvest do not have any superstitious elements but serve to complete the Marakwet calendar.

In conclusion, we have considered superstition among variety of other related concepts, and we have found out that Marakwet superstitions are central to the understanding of all others. Therefore, Marakwet superstitions are the subtotal of Marakwet fears and psychologies. All the superstitions form the Marakwet way of reasoning or relating with other people.


The dialect of Marakwet used here is the Markweta, for those people who live in the present day Tot Division and some parts of Tunyo Division. Endo linguistic range is still taken care by this writing system.

 Some References

 Concise Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (2002)

Finnegan Ruth (1976) Oral Literature in Africa London: Oxford University Press

Kipkorir, B.E. (1973) The Marakwet of Kenya Nairobi: East African Literature Bureau

Sambu, Kipkoech Araap (2007) The Kalenjin Peoples Egypt Origin Legend Revisited: Was Isis Asiis? A Study in Comparative Religion Nairobi: Longhorn Publishers

Wikimedia Encyclopedia