There was a superb movie released last year simply called 300. It highlighted the brilliance of the ancient Spartans in war and the military training that was their way of life from a very tender age.
There are interesting similarities between the Spartans and the Nandi. For example in the culture of the Nandi so severe were the circumcision rites initiation programs that they often claimed casualties and only about half of those who went for it returned alive. Then also when the Nandi were not at war they would hold violent competitions amongst themselves where combatants frequently fought to the death.
Therefore it is hardly surprising that by the end of the 19th century the Nandi were the dominant community in the Rift Valley having replaced the dreaded Uasin Gishu Masai
But let us stay focused on our area of interest for now which was the battle with the British. Kimnyole is the name of the Nandi leader (Orkoiyot) who is best remembered for the amazing prophecies that he made one of which he died for. He clearly predicted the coming of the “devils” who would subdue the Nandi community and rule them. The Nandis recognized the British as the “devils” that Kimnyole predicted would rule them and fought them vigorously in a vain effort to ensure that the prophecy would not come to pass.
Kimnyole was stoned to death on suspicions that he had caused famine in the land. However the real reason was that his prophecy on the Nandi being subdued upset powerful tribal elders. But before he was executed he summoned his sons and made them promise him that they would never accept any positions of leadership amongst the community. One of his sons, Koitalel Samoei, did not keep that promise and is today considered the greatest leader and Orkoiyot that the Nandi ever had. Interestingly it is widely believed that current agriculture minister William Samoei Ruto is a direct descendant of the great Nandi military strategist and leader, hence the great respect the community has for young Ruto. It will be remembered that when things threatened to get out of hand at the funeral of the late assistant minister in home affairs, Lorna Laboso, a few weeks ago it was Ruto who managed to cool down the aggravated crowd.
The Brits were known to easily subdue any tribes that resisted them by invading their villages and burning down crops and everything else thus starving the survivors into submission. So how were the Nandi able to survive this? This is an interesting question because it brings out the extremely crafty nature of the Nandi. Even before the Railway came, the sparsely populated community had defeated other fierce and much larger tribes like the Masai, the Luhya and the Kisii. They thwarted the colonialists by hiding their cows amongst those of the Kispsigis, so even when their crops were burnt down, they were still able to survive because of their herds.
This is an appropriate place to tell yet another tale involving the Luo and their great hero Luanda Magere, that clearly illustrates the craftiness of the Nandi. It is said that long before the colonialists arrived, the Luo were easily able to subdue the Nandi using their great warrior whom it is said possessed such great magical powers that a spear could not penetrate his skin.
The Nandi hurriedly called for a truce and held a beauty contest in the land to choose the most beautiful young girl who was given to the great Luo warrior and leader as a gift to cement the peace between the two communities.
Peace reigned between the two communities for sometime until one day the great warrior got sick and he gave instructions to his youngest wife as to what needed to be done. It involved cutting his shadow with a razor to draw blood, which she did and
There are many Kenyans who do not attach much importance to such tales. Some of them made the grave mistake of greatly underestimating the intelligence and craftiness of former president Daniel arap Moi. It is common amongst western powers to assume that Africans who can speak English well are intelligent and those who can’t are idiots. This kind of thinking has rapidly spread amongst Kenyans and is one of the reasons why Moi was able to rule the country unchallenged for 24 long years. The truth is that many of his enemies always greatly underestimated him.
In the same way Kenyans have for many years taken the Kalenjin for granted assuming that because they cannot speak flawless English too well and always have a heavy accent, they are not really that intelligent.
So it is hardly surprising that as the intelligence community was sound asleep and as other Kenyans focused their attention on stone throwers in the Kibera slums and elsewhere a disaster of unprecedented proportions was unfolding in Rift Valley.
N.B. In my previous post I erroneously indicated that the Nandi had the highest population amongst Kalenjins. As one of our readers quite rightly pointed out this is NOT true. The Kipsigis were in fact the most populous tribe. Indeed this tends to highlight the amazing military success of the Nandi since they were so few and yet so successful and influential in the entire Kalenjin community.
P.S.: What is in this week’s raw notes (aiii, wacha tu)!! In fact I cannot dare mention it in this public forum. That’s how HOT it is. No kidding!! However you can get a FREE sneak preview of this red hot saga from my weekly Kumekucha Confidential. Email Me right away for it. It’s FREE kabisa.