Kipsigis people

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Kipsigiis, Kipsikiis
Traditional Kipsigis gourd hanged on a wall..jpg
A milk gourd, a Kipsigis cultural symbol
Regions with significant populations
United States20,000
Kipsigis, Swahili and English
Asisian Religion, Christianity, Islam, Atheism
Related ethnic groups
other Kalenjin people: Nandi people Tugen, Marakwet, Sengwer/Cherang'any, Sabaot, Terik, Sebei and Pokot.

Dedicated Museum: Kipsigis Heritage Museum (Kapkatet)

The Kipsigis (spelt phonetically proper as Kipsigiis[2]), also known as Lumbwa; are a SouthEastern Nilotic people who live in Kenya and Tanzania and are an ethnic tribe who alongside other Highland Nilote tribes of the African Great Lakes Region make up the Kalenjin ethnic group. They live in close relation and association with the Nandi. They are structurally heterogeneous with an amalgamation of 'ortinwek' (genealogical organizations analogous to clans) from Nandi, Okieik, Maasai, Kisii, Luo and aboriginal ethnicities of Kenya. The Kipsigis people speak the Kipsigis language; Nilotic language which falls under the Nandi-Markweta cluster of the Kalenjin languages.

In the mid 19th century AD, the Kipsigis were eponymized as Lumbwa (a name derived from Ameru peoples for a community that was associated with Sirikwa culture). By the 20th century, the term was used to identify the Kipsigis but with also a connotation to identify the Wakuavi Maasai of Tanzania. Other insignificant names include: Kipsikis, Ilparakuyo, Baraguyu, Kwavi, and Iloikop.

The Kipsigis together with other linguistically and culturally related tribes now identify as Kalenjin, an identity they have been collectively using since 1950s. The Kipsigis tribe in census and other statistics are the most populous compared to their akin tribes of Kalenjin; conservative estimates point at the Kipsigis being 31.76% against cumulative population of Kalenjin in Kenya, Uganda and South-Sudan while within Kenya, the Kipsigis account for about 63% of Kalenjin and occupy the largest geographic zones..

The Kipsigis are explicitly and unapologetically the most sophisticated and modernized ethnic tribe among the Kalenjin confederation. Notably, the Kipsigis are the pioneering and leading cultural ambassadors of Kalenjin especially through music i.e. Emily Chepjumba track is formulated as the Kalenjin anthem in pop culture. Perhaps even among the Nilotic peoples, the Kipsigis succeed or precede the Luo in terms of westernized cultural dynamics and modernity. One other distinguishing characteristic of the Kipsigis in contrast to other Kalenjin is their pioneering role and a dynamic communal state of being early adopters.

The Kipsigis people live predominantly in a region politically known as South Rift Region and includes Bomet County: (Sotik, Chepalungu, Bomet East, Bomet Central and Konoin constituencies) and Kericho County: (Kipkelion East, Kipkelion West, Ainamoi, Bureti, Belgut and Sigowet-Soin constituencies). In Nakuru County, the Kipsigis live in Kuresoi North, Kuresoi South, Njoro, Molo, Subukia and Rongai constituencies.In Laikipia County, a few populations of Kipsigis live in Laikipia West Constituency. In Narok County, the Kipsigis live in: Narok West Constituency, Emurua Dikirr constituecy and Narok South Constituency. In Tanzania, the Kipsigis live in Tarime and Mwanza.

The traditional occupations of the Kipsigis included: Semi-pastoral herding, military expeditions and farming cereal (millet). Living on the Western Highlands at an altitude of 1500 to 2000m, the Kipsigis now also grow maize, wheat, pyrethrum and tea.[3]


The eponymous name 'Kipsigis' can be translated as 'prolific' or 'the ones who bear many children' where 'Kip' is the masculine name prefix and 'sigiis' implying the process of giving birth. An initiated male is referred to as Kipsigisiindet, although it can also refer to a woman of Kipsigis ethnicity. A woman of Kipsigis ethnicity is referred to as Chepsigiisiindet. A group of people of Kisigiis ethnicity are referred to as Kipsigisiek.

In academia, the 'Kipsigis' word or eponym has inspired the nomenclature of an extinct genus of East African antelope from the middle Miocene (Kipsigicerus). Other academic terms associated with the Kipsigis include: Acraea sotikensis and Sotik lion (Panthera leo melanochaita).

According to the Swahili traders and alien visitors, the Kipsigis would have seemed as part of the Nandi as were all the other Kalenjin tribes and in this accord, Kalenjin was referred to as Nandi-Speaking communities.

Lumbwa connotation being used to identify the Kipsigis can be attributed to an encounter by Meru ancestors of a people who spoke a proto-kalenjin language. This community would most probably be the Tugen community of Kalenjin which used to occupy a region between South of Lake Turkana and Southeast toward mount Kenya. However, after the rise of Maasai and their expeditions that followed, the Lumbwa community was displaced from mount Kenya and as later researchers tried to look for the Lumbwa community, geography and similarities would lead them to believe the Kipsigis were the Lumbwa.

The Lumbwa term among the elderly Kipsigis as of today is revered and supposed not to be mentioned supposedly because it is associated with the Lumbwa treaty with the British and also perhaps because it doesn't have a literal or historical meaning to the Kipsigis.

Genetic genealogy[edit]

There are no publicized or extensive documentation on the genetic studies carried on ethnic Kipsigis individuals. Based on their Nilotic origins from South Sudan and Ethiopia, it is expected that future studies will paint a Kipsigis relationship with Nandi, Maasai, Datooga and Ogiek as well as several other Nilotic-speaking people of Sudan and South Sudan.

Autosomal DNA[edit]


Mitochondrial DNA[edit]

Lactose tolerance/intolerance[edit]

Kipsigis Position and Facet to Kalenjin[edit]

The Kipsigis people are part of a confederation of Southearstern Nilotic ethnic tribes inhibiting the highlands of East Afrca in African Great Lakes Region known as Kalenjin. The Kalenjin include: Kipsigis, Nandi,Elgeiyo-Keiyo, Tugen, Okiek, Marakwet, Sengwer, Sabaot, Terik, Pokot and Sebei. The confederation come about as Maliri people from Ethiopia and South Sudan migrated into Uganda and Kenya, thus interacting with the Maasai, Iraqw (who are examined to be reminiscent to Sengwer) and aboriginal inhabitants of the Great Lakes including Okiek and Oropom.

The Kalenjin speak archaic languages with each tribe having its own variations but can communicate and understand each other. The Kipsigis use nomencleture similar to all the other tribes except the Marakwet whose names of persons have been inverted gender-wise; this is said to be probably because of a genocide that may have targeted males or females of the Marakwet. Theism is similar across Kalenjin and it is examined to have radiated from the Kibasisek clan originally from Marakwet. The Kibasisek clan found across most or all the Kalenjin spread the worship of the sun (Asiisian Religion). However, further examinations find the Maliri Kalenjin (Pokot and Sebei) to have faceted in former Kalenjin religion (Tororutian Religion).

Heritage is almost uniform across Kalenjin but with circumcision absent in some tribes. Kalenjin can traditionally marry from within Kalenjin as if it were within each individuals tribe. Clans may be found across the various tribes and thus, for instance, the Kipsigis and the Nandi are particularly intricate thus making both seem as a single identity even to date. Culture is similar and cultural dynamics cut across all Kalenjin. Systems of administration were similar across Kalenjin but Nandi and Kipsigis later borrowed the Laibon kingly post from the Maasai and christened it as Orkoiyot in Nandi and Oorgoiiyoot in Kipsigis.

Origin and establishment[edit]


The Kipsigis was initially a single group and identity with the Nandi until 1800 when the Nandi community was separated by a wedge of Uas Nkishu Maasai in Kipchorian River (River Nyando); the resulting community south of Nandi hills (Kipkelion) became Kipsgis.

...the Kipsigis and the Nandi moved to Rongai area. The Kipsigs and the Nandi are said to have lived as a united group for about a century, but eventually were forced to separate due to antagonistic environmental. Some of these were droughts and invasion of the Maasai from Uasin Gishu.

— C. Chesaina, 1991[4]

The Nandi account is that the ancestors of Nandi migrated from Mount Elgon under the leadership of Kakipoch. It is observed from the Nandi oral traditions that Lumbwa clans

Mount Elgon, the seedbed of the Nandi, Kipsigis, Tugen, Marakwet and Sabaot.

joined them later thus implying that the Nandi adopted groups of people probably perhaps either the Sirikwa (from Sebei, it connotes Oropom people but among Kipsigis and Nandi, Sirikwa can mean the Iraqw), Datooga or Tugen; the later is the most probable as original Kipsigis clans such as Kipasisek are found among the Tugen people. (Tugen people are thought to be the community that was encountered by Ameru people (Lumbwa) and are thought to have lived in association with Afro-Asiatic peoples and thus introduced them to the Nandi and the Kipsigis).[5][6][7] The Nandi portray and illustrate though their 'ortinwek' formations, peculiarities and oral traditions that the Kipsigis and Nandi before and during migration to Uasin Ngishu was made up clans from a people they call Elgon who are interchangeable for Siger, Lumbwa (explicitly), Elgeyo and later on, Lo-'sekelae Maasai who are interchangeable for Siger peoples.[8]

Omo river in Omo Valley, Ethiopia, the home of Maliri people (the parent ethnicity to Sebei, Pokot and Dasaanach)

To draw a reference frame, the Maliri people originally from Omo Valley in Ethiopia immigrated into Kenya and Uganda, breaking into groups in the following order: Merile and Pokotozek. Merile reverted to Southern Ethiopia. Pokotozek moved to a region between Mount Cherangany and Mount Moroto and then to Lake Baringo thus disturbing a community called Oropom (an aboriginal and indigenous community to the region)who thus dispersed in various directions (Turkwel excursion, Uasin Ngishu excursion which was likely adopted to the Maasai and Oropom,- an excursion which shrunk to a region they had already been occupying around Chemorongit hills and South of Mount Moroto hills). Pokotozek went on to defeat Lloikop Maasai at Baringo and thus Pokotozek broke into two, a community called Chok or the Suk who occupied Baringo while another branch moved west and called itself Sebei. The Chok or Suk are then known to have transformed from being farmers into pastoralists and as the two factions developed, Chok consumed Suk and the new confederation became known as Pokot.[9] Neighbouring the Maliri descendant groups were the Lumbwa (although this community could have been confused for other groups such as Siger/Sengwer),[7] Sekker/Siger/Sengwer[10] and Karamojong.[11] It is imperative to note that the Sebei came to call Oropom, Sirikwa. Kipsigis and the Nandi can very possibly be Sebei faction that moved to Uasin Ngishu, Iinteracted with peoples including Sirikwa (who could be Oropom or Datooga) and Chemwal (who interchangeably with Sirikwa could most probably be Iraqw or Datooga) and from here, they grew to occupy the regions they occupy today.

Linguistically, the Kipsigis language is closely related to Nandi, Keiyo (Keyo, Elgeyo), South Tugen (Tuken), and Cherangany. This thus implies a common culture bed for these communities. Thus, while Pokot and Sebei are directly descendants of Maliri, the Kipsigis, Nandi, Elgeiyo and Southern factions of Tugen may have a common ancestry.

Kerio Valley, where Maliri Kalenjin and Kutiit Kalenjin emerged to defeat and eject Maasai. Here too, the Iraqw interacted intricately with the Kalenjin and Datooga.

More than any of the other sections, the Nandi and Kipsigis, in response to Maasai expansion, borrowed from the Maasai some of the traits that would distinguish them from other Kalenjin: large-scale economic dependence on herding, military organization and aggressive cattle raiding, as well as centralized religious-political leadership. The family that established the office of Orkoiyot (warlord/diviner) among both the Nandi and Kipsigis were migrants from northern Chemwal regions. By the mid-nineteenth century, both the Nandi and Kipsigis were expanding at the expense of the Maasai. For instance, Kwavi Maasai were fought and driven away from Narok to Sang'alo by three major sub groups of the Maasai (Siria, Moi Tanik and Mburu) assisted by Kipsigis in the late 1600s, thus some found refuge among the Luhya people under the subtribe of Khayo were they facet the sub-tribe as the clan of Bakhabi.

Sirikwa and Lumbwa Association[edit]

Sirikwa is a term originally coined by the Sebei people for Oropom who settled in Uganda and Western Kenya. The term is used by Kipsigis to refer to a people whose region they succeeded and were associated with Sirikwa culture. The Sirikwa to the Kipsigis would be what the Nandi called the Chemwal people. The Chemwal according to the Nandi are the ancestors of the Sengwer faction of Pokot. All these point at the Iraqw peoples of Tanzania.

Parakuyo and Kwavi Association[edit]

The Kipsigis are sometimes referred to as Parakuyo and/or Kwavi in curated articles and records. This points to the inadequate research on the extent and expanse of the Kipsigis community and their influence. The Kipsigis compared to other plain nilotes and highland Nilotes of Kenya are the most progressively advancing and westernizing community. In earlier times, the Kipsigis had attires similar to Maasai and even shared certain dialects but notably, the Kipsigis time to time had to shave their hair. The Kipsigis also did not braid their hair or dye them with ochre. The fact that some Maasai regions have Kipsigis/Kutiit/Kalenjin names thus implies that the Kipsigis community during the Maasai expansion era may have been ejected to Tanzania. It is plausible that the Parakuyo or Kwavi of Tanzania are facets of Kipsigis community or a lost Kalenjin tribe.

Establishment of EMet ab Kipsigis and Circumcision[edit]

The Kipsigis eponym is not understood in terms of origin but the literal meaning can sound derogative although the Kipsigis themselves use it prestigiously and posteriously. The first collective population of the Kipsigis was located in Belgut, Kericho. The first circumcision was observed in Londiani, implying an eastward projection that resulted with a cultural interaction most probably with the Afro-Asiatic Iraqw who were known to the Kipsigis as Sirikwa rather than by other Kalenjin because for instance, the Nandi do not allow in the Kipsigis into their customs unless their clan belong among the Nandi or if a Kipsigis woman is married to Nandi man, she undergoes compartmentalized and secretive custom. Later projections spread south largely to Bureti.

Emet ab Kipsigis was largely established by furious disciplined armies, diviners and leaders. The structures of society and system of governance were similar to those of other Kalenjin as they were copy-pasted from the Nandi.

Whilst academia and archaeology find the Sirikwa as a pastoral neolithic period of the Kalenjin, among the Kipsigis, they mention living with a group of people they refer as Sirikwa. The Sirkwa are said to have dug up circular parameters where they kept their cattle and made huts on top of the parameters. It is also said that the Sirikwa had a thing about red ants, their appearance made them migrate as it was a bad omen for them. It is also told that the Sirikwa migrated southward toward Tanzania. The Iraqw of Tanzania actually do confirm to be the Sirikwa who interacted with the Kalenjin before migrating to Tanzania. The Sirgoik clan of the Kipsigis are thought to be adopted group of Iraqw families.

Statutes on Adoption[edit]

The Kipsigis did not practice or allow for adoption within members of their own tribe. Instead, foreigners, especially prisoners of war, were the only type of individuals to be adopted. Raids were not designed to capture and adopt foreign people but it was a subject of the outcome of raids as to whether the besieged would concede defeat and ask for mercy, thus they would be brought to Kipsigis land and made to undergo immigration procedures and process of customs relating to adoption called Luleet or ko-luleet.[12]

Patterns derived from cultural history led Kipsigis to adopt Kisii and Maasai peoples. This could be because the Maasai were seen as a preferable genetic pool for the Kipsigis as they had many cattle like the Kipsigis and with a heritage similar to Kalenjin while the Kisii were seen as industrious and likely facet the Kipsigis community in terms of agriculture and farming.

Male initiations[edit]

As a unified identity, the Kipsigis and the Nandi had not begun circumcising their males; that's until they were separated and the Nandi were introduced to circumcision by Cheragany people and thus they called themselves Chemwal for a period before they obtained the Nandi eponym. The Kipsigis about the same timeline were introduced to circumcision in Londiani hill top in Londiani (Also called Tulwaap Kipsigis- Mount of the Kipsigis, Tulwaap Monyiis- Mount of the penis, Tulwaap Lagook- Children's mountain or Tulwaap Ng'etiik- Mount of the uninitiated boys). It is not clearly mentioned who introduced it to the Kipsigis but it is plausible that either Lumbwa people or Cherangany people are the ones who did so.

Female initiation[edit]

Female initiation seems analogous to male initiation with most features and customs reflecting, being exactly the same or complementing features and customs performed to the males. Females initiation included surgical modification of female genitalia, seclusion and apparent segments like the one for boys. The main aim of female initiation was to turn girls into virile women. Virginity was a treasured aspect and a girl who was still a virgin during circumcision was accorded a special status by being let to 'sit in the ceremonial chair'. The distinct after mart of the female initiation was marriage.

It is however unclear when the first female circumcision took place and who introduced it to the Kipsigis.

Theism and religion[edit]

The Kipsigis observ a monotheistic version of Asisian religion where once some Kalenjin can have various deities and a major deity as Asis and/or Tororot, the Kipsigis instead have Asis as the supreme God and the other gods as artributes of Asis. This religion however may have had minor interjections to a former Tororutian religion of the northern sections of Kalenjin. Theism was accompanied with no need for proof.

The Asisian religion is based on the sun - 'Asista', and thus 'Asis' is an animated and personified instance of the sun. Previous translations state that Asis means the 'dazzling one' but 'to dazzle' is coined by the term lili. Asis has nine attributes/names including: Asis – Sunny, Cheptalel – She who can be white; Thought of God with human nature. This attribute is coined by a legend which includes the sacrificing of girl which resulted in answer of rain after a severe drought. Cheptalel is the protagonist in the legend; Chepopkooiyo – She from halo; Kooiyo is derived from halo usually around the sun on a humid day. A halo around the sun was an important omen among the Kalenjin during war. By observing appearance of a halo before going to war, the Kalenjin would decided whether to go or not go to war. Chepopkooiyo thus implies the God of war; Chepomirchiio – she who leads war. It literally means the one who leads wars, or the god of hosts. He/she protects and leads armies. Chepkeelyen Sogool – she with nine legs; Nine is devine to the Kalenjin, it symbolizes infinity. It also has a meaning of nine rays of the sun as it rises which relates to a Maasai attribute of god called 'Isyet' with the same meaning. Chemalus – She who never looses/she who is wise. It can literally mean she who has a high intelligent quotient, never loses a riddle, always correct, never defeated. He/she is invoked in legal proceeds. Chebokimabai – She who dries millet.This attribute invokes a prayer for warm and sunny climate to dry harvest of millet. Weerit Neoo – The eldest son; Cheboo – She who is big/large. Chepkochor – She who rises (especially to do with the sun rising). Tororot – The lifted, the promoted.

Places of worship[edit]

  • Kaapkoros – Shrine

This was the common places of worship among the Kipsigis. The currently known and remembered shrines include: Kapkoros in Bomet, Kapkoros in Chepkechei, Tulwab Kipsgis (Londiani Intersection) and Tulwab Bureti.

  • Sach-Ooran- Crossroads

The Kipsigis consider

  • Mabwaita – family altar

This is a family altar positioned to the east of the house as one exited through the main door (the Nandi and Keiyo call it Korosyoot). It was continuously maintained and replenished by the initiated members of the household in a process called Kisoop mabwaiita- to heal/ give life to the altar. It is an erected structure composing of branches and vines of trees of sacred importance and purpose to the Kipsigis. The table below tabulates all the vines and branches used in construction of the alter.

Structural Part Local Name Significance English Name Type Scientific Name
Branch: for firmament grounding.

(Only one or a combination of the following

is to be used)

Choorweet Frienship Cabbage tree/Buddleja shrub Nuxia congesta
Mangweita tree
Tebesweet Life or the abundace of it tree
Lebekweet tree
Emityoot Durability and resilience Wild olive tree
Kosisiityet tree
Sapteet tree
Whole vine (for tying) Nyeelweet vine
Sinendeet vine
Chemachililiet vine
Whole grass (placed on the ground) Sereetyoot Fertility, prosperity and prolificacy Kikuyu Grass grass

Spiritual leaders and spiritual groups[edit]

The Kalenjin people are highly spiritual. Their value systems and morals are instilled throughout their lives though social norms and cultural practices that emphasize the need for respect their elders, honour to the ancestors and reverence to Assis. The Kipsigis nation holds that certain people in high spiritual regard as their prayers and soliciations to Assis would be more readily accepted. The Kipsigis sense of morality also dictates that the most virtuous amongst the community should intercede on behalf of the nation.


The spiritual leaders of the Kipsigis nation are the Orgoik who are members of the reverred clan of the Talai. These annointed priests oversee the nation of the Kipsigis and intercede to God on the behalf of all the people of the world.

Tisiindet/tisiik (priest)[edit]

The Kipsigis nation also recognises certain priestly Clans, who though not at the level of the Orgoik, are considered intercessors for the community especially at the sub-nation level ie during the auspicious occasions such as the graduation of initiates, bumper harvest of crops, celebration of marriages and such other significant family occasions. These priests did not go to war as the actions in war are considered an abomination which would sully the soul of any person partaking in it. The idea was therefore to keep these priests holy and pure so that they may continue to serve the nation and the community.


The Elders of the Kipsigis nation are highly respected and always acknowledged. Elders who have lived honourably, through they contributions to the community and the manner in which they have managed their affairs, particularly their families and Clans. These Elders are looked upon to always lead the community on all occasions including during spiritual intercessions to God, Assis.


Women are seen as acceptable beings to God as they bear no or less sins compared to men and thus their prayers would be readily answered compared to a prayer by a man. This is the reason why women are the ones who pray for their families in their homestead alter - Kaapkooros.

Perception of Evil and Agents of Evil[edit]

The Kipsigis by the turn of 20th century had not mythologized a centralized source of evil i.e. Satan; it was believed that evil was the premise of individuals who were influenced by jealousy or evil spirits. When the missionaries of AIM and Catholic Church reached Kipsigis, the Christian character, Satan was translated as Ooiindet which originally means ancestors to the Kalenjin; Setaniiaat however, a term used to refer to Satan colloquially is a borrowed word from The Bible and not related in any way to the word Seetaanik, material implements of the Oorgoiyoot smeared or effected on a knobkerry of military Captains (Kiptaayiiat).

Social and Cultural development[edit]

Society and culture among the Kipsigis was a direct product of its heritage. This thus means the culture of the Kipsigis was stifled and stringent, hardly changing. The Kipsigis have a circular view of life. They were a superstitious as well as a spiritual community. They considered all life as sacred. They believed that the natural world is all connected and that a good deed never goes unnoticed. Similarly bad deeds lead to consequences in various forms. This view ensures that all members of the community act in a morally upright manner.


A male was given four set of names. First two after birth: the first based on time, place or weather of the time of birth, usually proceeded by a 'Kip' prefix; and a second being an attribute of a reincarnated ancestor. A third name was a borrowed name from a local hero. A fourth name was given to males after initiation which is based on the first name of the father where if the father was Kiprotich, the son would be called Arap Rotich. Naming of the females followed a similar process.

Kipsigis language[edit]

The Kipsigis language falls under Kuutiit cluster (Nandi-Marakwet languages). It however differs from the other languages in the cluster by the following features:

  • Slower tempo
  • Usage of double vowels whereas the other Kuutiit languages use single vowels i.e. Orkoiyot in Nandi is termed Oorgoiiyoot in Kipsigis.
  • 'K' in Kuutiit languages is interchangeable for 'g' in Kipsigis language.
  • Conjunction 'aap' is used while the other Kuutiit use 'ab'.

Phonetically proper spelling as pronounced by the Kipigiis affect some of the assumed words by the other Kalenjin such as: aap for ab, araap for arap, Asiis for Asis, laagok for lagok, poiyoot for boiyot among others.

A Summary of Oral Traditions and Mythologies[edit]

A 1961 illustration of Chemosi being hunted

Perhaps even up to date, most if not all of the oral traditions, usually narrated by a grandmother at her hut to a group of children, usually her grandchildren; are of and about a creature known as Chemosi. It has been adopted in the Western World as the Nandi Bear. It is often but not always portrayed as a carnivorous beast with the ability to speak the Kipsigis or Kalenjin language. The structure of the traditions usually begin with unruly kids who disobey the instruction of their elder siblings, parents or community members, then are lost in a forest where then, the Nandi Bear finds them, takes them to their residence, asks them to perform some musical or performed arts then roast or cook them before they are eaten but usually, the relatives and friends of the abducted arrive just in time to save them before being roasted or cooked.

Among the Nandi, Nandi bear is called Chemosit, Kerit, Kododoelo, Ngoloko or Duba.

In Chepsongwor, there is said to have been a dragon or an enormous reptile named Lulu which shone light at night that could be seen miles away (or at least its eggs). About 1930s, it is reported that the big-game hunters did adventure into the dragon's cave and acquire the dragon or its eggs as bounty.

There is also local speculation about a creature called Dingonek. This is a fearsome looking water creature which has features including armadillo-like leopard patterned hippo size back, head looking like a leopard's but with two large protruding fangs among other features. It was reported by the Lumbwa/Kipsigis and the Wadoko/Agiek to be seen in River Maggori. The creature was recorded to have been seen by Edgar Beecher Bronson.

Perhaps also more prevalent is what is called Mur-ngetunyit; this literally meaning 'a darkened or blackened lion beast'. The description are sketchy and perhaps misleading where certain beasts, probably the cheetah, could be mistaken for the beast. The name however implies it could possibly be the black panther. It is usually also inclined by some elderly men as an accompanying tale that this beast, the Mur-ngetuniyit or perhaps the Cheetah or leopard have a form of magic; that it usually goes for the phallus by springing at high speeds and clutches at the head, usually of a man and if the victim survives, his recovery will include a symptom of weird if not wizardry insects usually beetles coming out of the inflicted wounds.

Arithmetics, geo-mapping and calendar constructs[edit]

Numbers and counting (kaitosyek)[edit]

1. (One): Agenge: It has no significance

2. (Two): Aeng: It is a good number. It symbolizes marriage and is a reciprocal/multiple of the masculine number (four).

3. (Three):Somok: It is a feminine number and a feminine symbol. It was also the maximum number of acquittal for offences, the fourth resulted in death by execution.

4. (Four): Ang'wan: Four is a masculine and military number.

5. (Five): Muut: It is associated with biology and physiology i.e., five fingers on hands and feet.

6. (Six): Lo: It is a neutral number

7. (Seven): Tisaap: It is associated with the seven age sets.

8. (Eight): Sisit: It has no significance

9. (Nine): Sogool: It is a divine number. It is also a complete number (it is the largest one's value)

10. (Ten): Taman: It is not significant as it is a round off figure i.e. 9+1

Kiptaman ak Sogol literally means ten and nine but it means a thousand and one times (___ * 1001); although Bogol means and equals a hundred, Bogolai means or implies Thanks a million.


The Milky Way is known as Poit'ap kechei (literally sea of stars), the morning star – Tapoiyot, the midnight star – Kokeliet, and Orion's Belt – Kakipsomok. The Milky Way was traditionally perceived as a great lake in which children are bathing and playing. However, there are indications that there was an awareness of the movement of the stars. For instance, the Evening star is called the Okiek's star – Kipokiot, because it was by its appearance, in times past, that the wives of the Okiek knew that their husbands were shortly to return home. Further, there are indications that this movement of stars was sometimes linked to earthly concerns. Here, it was by the appearance or non-appearance of the Pleiades – Koremerik, that the Nandi knew whether or not to expect a good or a bad harvest. Sometimes superstitions were held regarding certain events. A halo – ormarichet, was traditionally said to represent a cattle stockade. At least as of the early 20th century, a break occurring on the east side was considered to be unlucky while one on the west side was seen to be lucky. A comet – cheptapisiet or kipsaruriet was at the same time regarded as the precursor of a great misfortune.[13]

Navigation and direction[edit]

The Kipsigis would tell their location in respect to the rising place of the sun (east) and plotting the four cardinal points descriptively by their position in relation to the east. The Kipsigis are also said to have been able the navigate at night by plotting the appearance of various constellations of the stars.

  1. Kong'asiis ak Cherongo (East and West)
  2. Murot' Tai ak Murot' Katam (South and North)

Kalenjin/Kipsigis calendar[edit]

The Kipsigis call a month 'Arawet', which is also the term for our satellite, the moon. A year is called 'Kenyit' which can be derived from the phrase 'Ki-nyit' meaning 'to accomplish, to fill in'. A year was marked by the order of months and more importantly by ceremonial and religious celebration of the yearly harvest which was held at the various Kapkoros (Shrines). This event being analogous to a practice observed by most of the other Africans has inspired the Kwanza festivities celebrated by predominantly by people of African descent in the United States. Kenyit started in February. It had two seasons known as olto (pl. oltosiek) and was divided into twelve months, arawet (pl. arawek).[14] In place of a decade is the order of Ibinda which is usually between 10 and 17 years. In place of a century is the completion of the age set which takes between 100 and 120 years.

Seasons (oltosiek)[edit]

The first season of the year, olt-ap-iwot (iwotet), was the wet season and ran from March to August. The dry season, olt-ap-keme (kemeut), ran from September to February.[14]

The kipsunde and kipsunde oieng harvest ceremonies were held in September and October respectively to mark the change in Seasons.[15]

Months (arawek)[edit]
Name Meaning Corresponds
1st Month Kiptamo Hot in the fields February
2nd Month Iwat-kut Rain in showers March
3rd Month Wake April[14]
4th Month Ngei Heart pushed on one side by hunger May
5th Month Rob-tui Black rain or black clouds June
6th Month Puret Mist July
7th Month Epeso August
8th Month Kipsunde Offering to God in the cornfields September
9th Month Kipsunde oieng* Second offering to God October
10th Month Mulkul Strong wind November
11th Month Mulkulik oieng Second strong wind December
12th Month Ngotioto Month of pin-cushion plant January[16]

Whereas the Kipsigis call a month 'arawet' -'moon', the observation of a month is seen to follow a construct based on climate and crop harvests thus implying an earlier construct that was based on astronomy (basing on observations of the moon satellite).

Architecture, housing and planning[edit]

The traditional Kipsigis housing plan is a product of the Kipsigis/Kalenjin heritage and the cultural transitions of the Kalenjin.

To begin with, the immediate household consisted of grass-thatched huts with conical roofs which sometimes had a pointy pole at the top (to imply if the homestead had a father/husband still alive); and the walls were made of mesh of vertical wood poles and horizontal branches and then filled with a sludge of wet soil, which after it dries, white clay is used as decoration and sometimes, red ochre. For the floor, women make a sludge of cow-dung and clay soil and spread it on the floor evenly.

The homestead huts included the main hut, a hut for unwed initiated men and boys (bachelors among the Kipsigis are explicitly guys who have passed about 40 and are still single, unwed initiated youth instead are not regarded as bachelors), a makeshift hut for initiated women (occasionally). An enclosure for cattle to stay at during the night called Kaaptich which is/was adjusted to Kaaptuguut, a small house for men who guarded the flocks and herds.

The main hut consisted of two sections: Koima, the left side of the house where women and children stayed and the Injor, the right side of the hut where the initiated men stayed and also with the goats and sheep.

Food, Food Security and Meal Time[edit]

Kipsigis people traditionally had the staple food being Kipsiongik- a thick hand blended paste of millet flour (sometimes mixed with sorghum flour) cooked in a pot with water. Kipsiongik was complemented prominently with goat's meat or cow's meat. It was a taboo to eat meat and drink milk in the same meal time. Milk was usually drunk unboiled as it was a taboo to boil milk. Prominently, the Kipsigis alao processed sour milk in a gourd (colloqually: 'Sotet') by first, cleaning the gourd then secondly sooting with charred stick of the 'itet' shrub plant which has an aromatic flavour and reduces the sour taste of sour milk; third, milk is filled into the gourd and left three to ten days to brew. Milk or sour milk would preferably be mixed with bull's blood. A sheep's tail was notably eaten during tilling of land and it was primarily designated for kids. The tongue and the testicles of a cow or a goat was reserved to the most elderly men in the family. The usual and prominent herder was offered the colon of the slaughtered animal and the herder usually roasted and ate it on the slaughter place. The liver was designated to women.

In the morning, the Kipsigis made and took millet porridge, children would take it with left over Kipsiongik (mokoryet) while the older teens and adults would take it with the snack of 'Morik'. Packed meals were carried by men (notably raw millet and perhaps sometimes, a small gourd with milk).

Masagisyeet was a societal food inadequacy mitigation/feeding programme targeted at children. A hungry child would go to a cross-road with a 'kissyet'-a woven plate/bowl, undress the hide garment and place on it Sereetyoot (Kikuyu grass, Pennisetum clandestinum) and then would hide in a nearby bush (this saved the respective family of the child from embarrassment). Women passing by the cross-roads often with a basket of food would then naturally recognize the coded message and place some portions of food in the child's bowl. After the child noticed that food had been donated, he/she would pick the food and return to his/her duties.[17] Apparently, if a disadvantaged family had a child who was ready for circumcision and seclusion but could not provide food, the father would take a goat or a sheep and tie it to the homestead of a well-off family, this meant and lead to an unnegotiable plea for provision of food from the later party.[18]

Omen reading and interpretation (Tartook)[edit]

Kipsigis people being a superstitious group were always on the look out to identify patterns and abnormalities in various aspects of life and environment and the interpretation of the same subsequently led them to decide on what to do. These various practices were common in Kalenjin cultures as it was part of their heritage. They are similar in context and practice to the Ancient Roman's Augury and Haruspex.

  1. Guts/Entrails: Kipsigis considered the gut to be the centre of all feelings and intuitions. To predict the future, much more like the ancient Romans did, the Kipsigis would dissect the gut of an animal. It was not allowed to dissect a person so, instead, omen expertise would dissect a goat, a sheep, a cow or a bull as substitute. It was believed that somehow, the entrails and guts of a dissected animal would convey the same message of the person in question. The reading of entrails omens was done by an expert who had apprenticed on the medium and expertise of entrails omens. Entrails interpretation ranged from mundane as saying that good omens were observed from healthy animals which were well fed to more mystical expertise where an expert could tell the weather patterns, the outcome of war and the onset of disasters or prosperity.[19]
  2. Snakes: The Kipsigis systematically and communally feared snakes; snakes were a source of terror (although some Kipsigis clans adopted from Kisii people keep snakes for cultural reasons). The appearance of a snake was an omen for evil intervention. It was believed that evil spirits (Masambwaanik) dwelt in snakes. It was also believed that snakes were a commune system for spirits of the deceased relatives from the spirit realm to the homesteads of the living. A snake which had veered into a homestead was never to be killed but instead, it was offered milk and beer to drink as a way of appeasing the evil spirit and then led out through a punched hole on the wall as it had serious paranormal consequence to let the snake through the door. If a snake crossed path with a person, that person had to cancel his/her duties for the day and embark on them the next day. A snake could be killed in the open but in the process, the person doing so was supposed not to make a mess from the savored snake's body; should a mess occur, the said person had to slaughter a goat lest he/she would fall ill and die.[17]
  3. Birds:
    1. Woodpecker (Kiptildilyeet): If a woodpecker was heard near a homestead before a warring expedition, it was a good omen; if it were to be heard to the left side of an army during war, it was a bad omen while if it were to be heard on the right, it was a good omen.
    2. Vulture (Sangiit/Sanginook): Should there have a sighting of vultures as armies formed procession ranks to war or cattle raids, instantly, the armies would have broken ranks and returned home, it was a very horrid omen.
    3. Chepkogosyot (Brown Hawk with a white belly): The appearance of the belly of this hawk during approach was an omen of abundant luck while the appearance of the brown back during approach was an omen for bad luck.
    4. Owl (Zuguruut): Among the Kipsigis, the owl is associated with death. The origin of this omen though is among the Nandi.[20]
  4. Fire Anomalies: At Kaapkoros, the fat of a ram, aromatic leaves and Sodom apples would be burnt; if the smoke ascended directly above, it signified that god (Asiis) had heard and accepted their prayers, contrary to this, it spelt the anger of god.
  5. Residence associated omens: Areas of residence that reported consistent ailments were a sign of bad luck and bad omens. The affected family or individuals moved to another kokwet.
  6. Miscellaneous:
    • Halo: The Kipsigis regarded the halo around the sun as a divine message.

Magic and witchcraft[edit]

The Kipsigis observed and conceived that magic and witchcraft was not part of their culture. It was also believed that it had no origin among the Kipsigis or the rest of Kalenjin. Religion and magic or witchcraft according to the Kipsigis and perhaps the whole of Kalenjin were separate thematic subject matters seen as unrelated (Asiisian religion being seen as original to Kalenjin and magic or witchcraft being alien).

  1. Pooniindet: A witch, usually a woman, although in rare occasions, a man could be identified as a witch. A male witch was usually associated with ill effects on cattle while a female witch was usually associated with illness and death on adults and children. The motives of practice of witchcraft were based on jealousy. When a party was suspected of witchcraft, he/she was warned and rebuked. Should there have been correlated events of illness or death of people or cattle thought to be the cause of the same lady witch, then the community would summon her, have her divorced, tied by the limbs and suspended in levitation then beaten with stinging nettles. For a man, he would be disowned and ripped off citizenship.
  2. Chebusuryot/Chebusurenik: This was usually a cluster of evil women who practiced black magic. Their magic utilizes material objects such as metals, bones et cetera being placed in people thus causing erratic discomfort, ill health and death. This form of magic was never thought to be practiced by men.
  3. Witchdoctors (Male -Kipsoogeiyoot/Kipsoogeiinik, Female – Chepsoogeiyoot/Chepsoogeiinik) : They practiced magic meant to cure people from the effects and ravages of witchcraft and spells. Their practice involved rubbing an oily substance on the gut of the ill person while casting spells. They would not practice their skills for ill purposes, even if they wanted to. The witchdoctors with elevated expertise and status were thought to be at a level to cure infertility.
  4. Orgoinotet: With regard to magic, Orgoinotet is the ability to foresee and rule with paranormal powers. An Oorgoiyoot was usually a male individual who was from the Talaai genealogical organization. One of the paranormal roles was the provision of war-medicine called seetanik which was substance put in the knobkerrie (kirokto) of a Kiptaiyaat, an army general then sent to the general through the Oorgoiyoot's messenger, Maotyoot. Specifically with provision of seetanik by the Oorgoiyoot, they obtained an eponym: kipseetmet, because the seetanik served as insignia and the knobkerrie of the general effective or as a believe was a portal or presence of the Oorgoiyot thus ''their heads raid in war''.[21]

Clothing, ornaments and costumes[edit]

Kipsigis woman and girl in a fashion statement of their culture in 1910

The Kipsigis had a relaxed attitude to dress codes for children and thus tribal nudism among the uncircumcised youth was common. An initiated Kipsigis, especially a woman had very strict code of dressing that where right from neck down to the knee had to be clothed (usually with a hide garment). Men however were supposed to wear a garment that would conceal their groins and rears. Both men and women would adorn themselves with earrings, necklaces, bangles and bells. Shukas for men started becoming a common item of attire for men replacing the hides when the missionaries arrived in Kipsigis' land.

Gender and gender roles[edit]

Uninitiated boys[edit]

Boy children among the Kipsigis were thought of as 'children of Kipsigis' and not part of Kipsigis until they had been initiated. Their roles may have included part of looking after cattle, hunting and gathering but were mainly known to engage in play, adult mock practices and apprenticeship.

Uninitiated girls[edit]

Girl children among the Kipsigis were thought of as 'children of Kipsigis' and not part of Kipsigis until they had been initiated. Their roles major included assistance with homestead duties. They would also engage in play and apprenticeship.

Initiated men[edit]

Initiated men had the main role of protecting the community as derived from the word 'Muren' for man meaning 'defender'. They can be divided into two:

Militant men[edit]

They were the younger generation of initiated men whose ibinda had just had the latest Saget ab eito custom. Their major task was acquiring catlle from rustling expeditions for bride price and wealth. They also made up a majority of the procession ranks of the Kipsigis military but did not make military decisions.


They were the older generations whose ibinwek had passed duties in Saget ab eito custom to the younger men. Their major role was defence and their secondary roles included leadership, guidance/counseling and decision making.

Initiated women[edit]

They were expected to be married of and become mothers. Some would continue with the careers they had apprenticed for as diviners, healers, seers or witch doctors.

Transgender individuals and binary identities[edit]

The Kipsigis had individuals with binary identity by way of naming where a boy could obtain a name and identity of a female ancestor or a girl, an identity and a name of a male ancestor but at the same time, have respective masculine or feminine names according to their gender and thus their identities, although mixed were normal in both respects. There was also a context of individuals who took up the opposite gender identity especially in the context of initiation (Kamuratanet). A transgender man is known as chemenjo. A transgender woman is called chepkwony or chepotipiik. It is to be noted that transgender individuals did not receive surgical modification associated with gender transition but rather came to take up their identity and roles especially during initiation.

Initiation Rites (Tuumwek)[edit]

Initiation among the Kipsigis was done from childhood through adolescence and sometimes into early adulthood. It was an analogue for today's preliminary education. Its ultimate goal was to prepare the community's youth to become hardworking, resilient and responsible adults. It also secondarily served as a means of initiating per se, children into a community of secrecy, respect and behavior of ranks and commitment to non-disclosure agreement and military-like adherence to ideals of the Kipsigis ethnicity. Another major aspect of initiation was the communal tolerance to pain and hardships.

The rites were faceted at birth, kamuratenet (circumcision and seclusion) and finally, marriage.

Age group and age set[edit]

Age group[edit]

Age groups were patriarchal groupings of men according to the groups and time of initiation. A group of male individuals initiated together in the same seclusion home (a makeshift home for young male adults called Menjo) would call themselves Baghuleh and became closer and bonded than blood brothers. The group's males initiated the same year or a year before or after the other called themselves Botuum. Women inherited the age group of their husbands. Girls and boys did not have an age set.

Age set[edit]

Kipsigis have cyclical age setting, each usually offsetting not less than 15 years. It can be viewed as a mechanism of tracking the age expectancy of the community. In order, a new age set can never be called in while an old person of the same age set is still alive; not even one. The sets are:

  1. Nyongi
  2. Maina
  3. Sawe
  4. Chumo
  5. Kerongoro
  6. Kaplelach
  7. Kipnyi'gee
Age Set Period Setting At Nicknames Notes
Nyongi 1783–1801 19 years
1905–1920 16 years Also called: Kosigo, Kipsirgot, Kimelsiagit and Bulu.
2019 (present)
Maina 1802–1819 18 years
1921–1936 16 years Also called: Mesyewa, Siling, Silobay and Chemorta.
Chumo 1820–1836 17 years
1937–1951 15 years Also called: Kimoino and Kiptindinyo
Sawe 1837–1853 17 years
1952–1966 15 years
Kerongoro 1854–1870 17 years Also called: Kipkoimet, Kiptor mesendet, Kibelgot and Kimariri
1967 - 1981 15 years
Kaplelach 1871–1887 17 years Also called: Kibol oeng, Kimut Aiyweet, Masiba, Kebebucha and Cheptech oret. A majority of this group were Killed in the holocaust of Maggori
1982–1999 18 years Durring this period, HIV was reported to have reached Kipsigisland.
Kipnyigee 1888–1904 17 years Also called: Kipsil Choget, Tabarit, Kiptil Osiek and Kiptil Garit.
2000–2018 19 years

Courtship, betrothal, marriage and divorce[edit]


As with some other ceremonies, so with marriages, some details and customs varied from clan to clan but the basic customs were uniform and same across the Kipsigis community and among all the clans.[17] At least eight separate ceremonies entailed marriage including[17]:

  1. Kaayaeet/ Yaatet-aap Kooito: This is the first visit of the groom's father to the home of the bride. He was to dress in a robe of blue monkey fur. He was to be received by the alter outside the hut/homestead of the bride's family. Being noticed by family members inside the homestead, he would put forward a distinct none-verbal message by place a ceremonial walking stick known as Noogirweet at the family alter (Mabwaita). The message was that the visitor wished or atleast procedurally had put forward marriage proposal proceedings. He would also add a branch of the wild olive tree (emityoot) or from the cabbage tree (Choorweet). There was then a deliberation between the two fathers and an initial agreement and a next visit date set.[22]
  2. Kibendii Kooito: This would be the first major visit by delegation from the groom's side. it included a number of clansmen of the groom, a number of brothers of the groom's father, some of the groom's father's iniate mates (baghuleiweek) and with also the groom's grandfather in some instances. Usually, an ox or both an ox and six goats or six goats were presented. The groom's age and clan was made known to examine suitability. Further examination of clanship, kinship and other cultural or historical (especially a history of witchcraft or conflicts) impediments of a matrimony between the two families or clans was done. Following successful deliberations, there then would follow a second visit by the suitor's father. He would offer the bride's father what is termed "teet-aap ko" which literally translates as "the cow of inside the house"; this was not really a cow but fourteen sheep and goats. He would then describe his son's character. By this time, the bride's father would have done some investigation and made his own judgements about the groom. If the bride's father was not impressed, he would ask the groom's father "to look elsewhere"- "Seet olda age". After a sucessful second visit, the groom and a friend of his age grade visited the father of the bride. The groom proceded his friend and both approached the family of the bride. The father, mother and brothers of the bride would annoint the visitors with butter in a custom or practise called "kaiilet-aap saanik" ("anointing of the in-laws") which was significant of blessing. The visitors then would return home (having not been shown the bride).
  3. Chuutet-aap Njoor: It literally means "the entry to the living/sitting room". It was the most important ceremonial visit of the groom to the home of his soon to be father-in-law. Imperatively, Njoor was the living space and was reserved for men. The groom had to be dressed in a calf-skin cloak. He was accompanied by his best man who is known as Matiryoot. They would sit with the father-in-law to be near the family alter on an ox hide. The visitors would then pledge a sheep or a goat. They would then enter the house through the back door (apparent known as "Kurgaap Saan" – "the door of the in-laws" and only used in this occasion). The three would then enter the sitting space/living room (Njoor) where they sat on skins laid out in the goat's compartment of the hut. Food was prepared and served to them by the friend or a sister of the bride. Before they ate, they 'washed' their hands with water sprinkled from a gourd. After the meal, the father-in-law anointed the visitors with butter on their foreheads and rubbed it down the sides of their bodies and legs. the visitors then returned home.
  4. Kekanda/ Dowry & Sueet-aap Tuuga:
    • The Dowry: A number of people had to be on the discussion about the dowry and they had to reach agreement as to what this included. The bride's parents would ask how many cattle the groom had in three categories: tuugaap lugeet – cattle obtained from raid, tuugaap mabwai- cattle obtained as inheritance or donation from the groom's father to the groom and tuugaap mwaai – cattle obtained as dowry from the groom's wedded sisters. A number of cattle was reached and if the groom's family was willing to surpass, it was believed that the groom really valued the bride. Reaching a final agreement on the number of cattle meant that wedding was now set to take place without any impediment.
    • Sueet-aap Tuuga: Literally meaning "a look at bride price cattle" is the event where the bride price cattle were brought to the salt lick troughs to be viewed by the bride's family. The prospective groom to point out the cows which he planned to give for the dowry. For pointing out, he would use the ceremonial Noogirweet stick, the one his father had placed at the family alter of the bride's family. There was then followed, a big expensive feast; food was provided, and milk and cow's blood was drunk. All of the relatives of the bride were to be invited. It could be held at the home of the groom's father or at the home of a brother of his father. Significantly, the bride was sent for the following day. After she arrived, the Motiryoot anointed the groom's forehead with butter using a branch of palm tree; the groom then anointed the bride on her forehead.
  5. Rateet, Keeseet/Keipis,: Following the previous event, on a set date but soon after, the groom along with a herds-boy and a Cheplaakweet- a nurse girl for a young child left in the early morning for the home of the bride. Omens were very important on that day. On arrival, the three of them would stand at the family alter of the bride's family. The bride was called to meet the groom; she would refuse to come until her father promised her a sheep or a goat. When she came out, she would stand by the groom, where after, her father and brothers would bring horns filled with butter; these were placed in the hands of the bride's mother. Four pieces of fresh green sereetyoot (Gikuyu Grass) had been placed in the butter, the blades running backward. The bride's father would use soosyoot branch to anoint the groom, the herdsboy, the bride and the Cheplaakweet with the butter; after this, the bride's father anointed his wife, his eldest son and that son's children.
  6. keeteitei Koroseek,
  7. Katunisyeet/Tororyeet and
  8. Tyegeet-aap Seguut.
  • Marriage by betrothal: This was the marriage by means of betrothal by the groom's family and upon acceptance of the bride's family, marriage would precede.
  • Marriage by elopement (Choret – stealing): Elopement occurred if the groom or bride suspected that either parental sides would not allow for their marriage or if the groom did not have enough funds and status in the society.
  • Lesbian marriage (Kitunji Toloch): This was a marriage between a middle-aged barren woman and a young woman (just completed initiation). The young woman would be respected and identified as any other wive and would get children from random men.[23][24]
  • Promisal marriage (Kabwatereret): This was a marriage organized by parents so that when the young boy and they young girl were initiated, then followed the custom of marriage (ratet)
  • Marriage by proxy (Museet): This is where a mother of the groom (who may have traveled or was in war) would actually marry a bride (as proxy).
  • Inheritance Marriage (Kaandiet): This was the practice of man of close kinship to a deceased man would look after the widow, her children and her welfare.

In the event that a wife may have engaged in extra-marital sex and subsequently become pregnant out of wedlock, she would have been sent to her parents and bitter words exchanged, sometimes violence ensued. As an outcome, the husband could forgive her. To allow the couple to settle back with their lives, the wife's family would have to pay the husband a heifer under a custom called Keeturum Saandet.[25]

There was an honorary ceremony called Katunisyeet-aap Tororyeet (which translates to marriage for might) held for a couple and their children when they had lived together peacefully and harmoniously for a long time. It involved in-law members of both sides and it was held in the home of the wife if the wife's parents were still alive or at one of the husband's age group men.


Divorce was practiced primarily if any party was suspected or caught practicing black magic (banisyeet). A wife could also be divorced if they were known to have committed adultery (a man would not be accused of adultery, extramarital sex for men was common and were not seen as an offense unless they had had sex with a married woman which was a big No!-No! for the Kipsigis).


Among the Kipsigis, there is a mixed explanation of what death and funeral entailed. An important event before or after death was 'Kerar-geet' event which involved the delivery of an oral will by the dying individual and the proceeding interpretation of it by the kin of the dead person after his/her death.

All Kipsigis agree that funerals were not a rite of passage (tuum), but rather just that- death (me-et or meet). Proceeding the death of a person however, there are two explanations:

  • Laying- where the dead were cleaned, adorned and taken with their belongings by a single next of kin to a bush or forest and laid to rest in a very specific manner; after which the body would be left to decay and fed on by hyenas.
  • Burying- this explanation details a very specific and intricate manner of burial where a dead person would be buried at the dung heap, west of their household and laid in their graves head on to the western side so that they would rise to see the rising sun.

It is argued by some Kipsigis that Laying was done to individuals who died before marrying or having children or who had a low status in the society while burials were done for rich or well defined and prestigious people.*Poore: This was a ritual among the Kipsigis where if there had been lack of births over a period of time, the elderly in the affected commune would pray for death as it was believed this would invoke birth of new members of the society.


Geo-Political organization[edit]


Em or emet, was the highest recognized geographic division among the Kipsigis. It spans a geopolitical region demarcated as being a jurisdiction of the Kipsigis entitled to ultimate sovereignty (but shared and entitled to the Nandi as well). This unit was identifiable as a political institution but the main work of civil control and administration was done by the kokwotinwek (plural of kokwet).[26] Linguistic evidence indicates that this form of societal organization dates back to their Southern Nilotic heritage. It is believed that the Southern Nilotes of two thousand years ago cooperated in loose supra-clan groupings, called *e:m.[27] It was a prestigious factor and symbol of unity, peace and prosperity.

The Office of the King (Oorgoiiyoot)[edit]

Operational in Nandi, the Orkoiyot institution was communed to Kipsigis in 1890, after the ousting and assassination of Kimnyole Arap Turgat. Kimnyole sent his three sons (Kipchomber arap Koilege, Arap Boisyo and Arap Buigut)[28] to Kipsigis who immediately began to establish a Kipsigis confederation, each of them establishing kingly homesteads with servants, messengers and reception parlors.

The office of the Oorgoiiyoot was dissolved after the Lumbwa Treaty.


Kokwet was the most significant political and judicial unit among the Kipsigis. The governing body of each kokwet was its kok (village council). Kokwet denotes a geographic cluster of settlement similar in concept to a village. It was established once there was a settlement pattern group of families. Such settlements were initiated by a few pioneer groups who usually were derived from men of the same genealogical organization (oret) or age group from the same seclusion home or initiation year (botuumisyek).

Kok elders were the local authority for allocating land for cultivation; they were the body to whom the ordinary member of the tribe would look for a decision in a dispute or problem which defied solution by direct agreement between the parties.[29]

The office of Kook (Village Sittings)[edit]

The office of the village elders was native to the Kipsigis and the elders. It consisted of retired army officers who were usually old, rich and with a reputation of wisdom in passing judgement. Their sittings were usually leisurely in the afternoon over a large pot of Nubian gin. With regard to administration and justice, a plaintiff or messengers would convey their aggrievances or messages to the elders and thus, a congregation was called on a date. Such a congregation depending on the nature could be all inclusive of the immediate community or it could only be attended by men.

Abstract constitution[edit]

The Kipsigis observed an unwritten constitution enveloped in the Kipsigis/Kalenjin heritage under moral codes. They were narrated and explained from childhood all through life. Significantly though, they were also sang to initiates in the seclusion homes. The implicit constitution made provisions for theism, identity, expectations of various groups, management of resources, environmental provisions and moral standards

Laws, Offenses and Penal codes[edit]

Neighboring Communities[edit]

1. Nandiek (Nandi)[edit]

The nandi are a closely related community to the Kipsigis as they both once had a single identity. They always work together and communal decisions made in either community affects the other.

Before annexation of the Kenyan land by British (before 1890's), the Nandi bordered the Kipsigis along River Nyando ('Oino-ap Kipchorian' – River Kipchorian) to the north while the Kipsigis lived south of the River and prominently in Belgut only to expand within a century to what is known today as South Rift and even more extensions that had earlier on be marked and mapped by Captain ...... (Kipleltiondo).

2. Kosobo / Kosobek / Kamama (Abagusii)[edit]

Kosobo means the land of or 'of appertaining to' the Kosobek, (Abagusii). Kosobek means an instance of a distinctive populus group of people kmown for being medicine men. Kamama means literally 'maternal uncle' or effectively, collective family of maternal uncle's family and household including the uncle.

These terms are used to implicate the Abagusii people of Western Kenya known to the Kipsigis for the love-hate relationship between the two communities. The Kamama artibute is thought to be a connotation developed by Abagusii adoptees while Kosobo or Kosobek being a friendly but distant eponym could be the original term of Kipsigis for Abagusii.

The Kipsigis held a mythology that Asis granted them absolute ownership over cattle of all the other communities and thus, conducted cattle rustling expeditions against its neighbours (except the Nandi). Abagusii were the main target of these expeditions alongside Luo and Maasai.

In the past, the most recalled event is the failed battle of Mogori where warriors of the ageset of Kaplelach were 'wiped out' at River Migori by an alliance of Abagusii, Maa and Abakusu warriors.

During various droughts that resulted in absolute food insecurity, young Kipsigis children were barter traded for cereal and other foodstuff to the Abagusii.

There was also a practice of intermarriages between the two communities.

3. Lim/Liumek (Luo)[edit]
4. Masaaek (Maasai)[edit]

Genealogical organization[edit]

Kipsigis clans are exclusively a Nandi system of patriachiarchal kinship that the Kipsigis naturally took up.

The ancestors, notably the patriarch Kakipoch, immigrated the Nandi-Kipsigis population to Uasin Ngishu county. Formulation of clan system is thought to have resulted due to interaction with Lumbwa people or perhaps Tugen people. The purpose of creating clans as it seems was to prevent marriages between individuals who share a patriarchal relationship to the third generation (marriages being mainly heterosexual but with a lesbian marriage in context). Clans also projected various professionalism and probably adopted identities where for instance, certain clans were exclusively priests, others were exclusively smiths, others exclusively hunters and gathers while others had other particular peculiarities. With the breakage of Nandi-Kipsigis unity, the Kipsigis took up the Kipsigis identity, while the Nandi took up the Chemwal identity only later to acquire Nandi eponym from the Swahili traders and the Kipsigis assuming Lumbwa eponym from scholars and British imperialists.

Since, the Kipsigis went on to adopt many clans mostly from Abagusii to the effect that residents of Bomet town and its environs are exclusively Abugusii adoptees.

The totems are personified and animated identities based on mammals and birds including: lion (Ng'etundo), buffalo (Zoet), snake (Ndaret/Komut-get), hyena (Kimagetiet), baboon (MÖseet), Crested Cranes (Kong'onyot), hare (Kiplekweet), Dik-Dik (Cheptirgikyet) and the dog/coyote/kayote (Ng'okto).

Millitary organization[edit]

Millitary formation and Organization (Oondo)[edit]

This was the responsibility and role of initiated men. There were various posts delegated to this men by custom including: those who should protect women and children at home, spies (Yotiik, Seegeik and Sogooldaiik), the generals (Kiptayat/Kiptaiinik)and the procession ranks (Ng'anymetyeet, Pirtiich, Oldimdo/Lumweet and Kipeelbany). Each soldier in their various posts had a division among four including Ngetunyo, Kebeni/Kebeny and some other two. There were yearly mock up practice for warring called Kaambageet.

The Kipsigis armies were not exclusive but all inclusive. Their response time was instantaneous but each individual assumed regular roles in the community which earned a reputation of being insurmountable.

Weaponry and attire of war[edit]

The arms of the fighting men usually consisted of a spear, shield, sword and club. By the late 19th century, up to four kinds of spears, representing various eras and areas were in use. In Nandi, the eren-gatiat, of the Sirkwa era was still in use though only by old men. It had a short and small leaf-shaped blade with a long socketed shank and a long butt. Two types of the Maasai era spear, known as ngotit, were also in use. Those of the eastern, northern and southern counties had long narrow blades with long iron butt, short socket and short shaft. Those of the central county (emgwen) had short broad blades with short iron butts. In the western counties, a spear that had a particularly small head, a long shaft and no butt was in use, it was known as ndirit.[30] The pastoral Pokot carried two Maasai era spears, known as ngotwa while the agricultural sections armed themselves with a sword, known as chok.[31]

Archery was also very much a prominent skill practiced among the Kipsigis for purposes ranging from agriculture to defense and security. There were an array of arrows for various specialties such as for shooting a bull for blood, hunting arrows and defensive arrows meant either as a deterrent by causing mortal wounds or others meant to get stuck in the victim while others were poisoned and thus each of the arrow types were used depending on the occasion.[citation needed]

Soongoolyet, an ostrich feather was a prominent headgear for the Kipsigis.[32]

Discipline of armies, customs associated with war and age-related military order[edit]

Sageet-aap Eito[edit]

This was a ceremony performed for the passing out of the old generation of soldiers and the entering in of the incoming generation of soldiers. It was associated with seclusion among the parties taking part in bushes for 24 hours, initiates would sleep in the attic (tabuut) or outside in the forest or bushes. The ceremony was completed by sacrificing a white ox and the involved parties would wear rings made from the ox' hide called Tamokiet (if the omens read from the ox's intestines were good ). This event is likened to the pass out ceremonies of police and the army.

Isset-aap Murenik[edit]

A night before a military expedition, a prayer was made under a ceremony called Isset-app Murenik where god was explicitly NOT to be referred to as Asis but exclusively, Chebomirchio. This ceremony would sometimes be skipped especially when the armies were retaliating on an attack.

Economic activities and professional organization[edit]

Hunting and gathering[edit]

Hunting and gathering (Logeet) seem to also be a prominent part of culture among the Kipsigis although there is an indication that it was the culture of Ogiek Kipsigis. It included hunting various animals and birds and collection of mushrooms (Bobeek), wild honey (Kulumbenik) and honey (Kuumiik). These were the activities of men (especially the hunting part), women and children (especially the gathering part).[33]



The system of habitation was semi-permanent and the region of settlement was abundant of grazing grass, water and salts. This made the Kipsigis lead a miniaturized version of pastoralism, only moving when there were droughts, or when there were migration for reasons such as adventure or antagonistic reasons as disputes or omens.[citation needed]

Cultivation and farming[edit]

Kipsigis people practiced farming. They used to farm and grow finger millet and sorghum. Black nite shade and spider plant made up the diet of the Kipsigis implying that it was also farmed. Farming was an all gender and age activity; everyone participated in clearing, tilling and land preparation, men were the experts of planting, weeding was more of female work and harvest was all-inclusive, festive and religious event.[citation needed]

Skill-based professions and activities[edit]

Medicine and treatment[edit]

By the early 20th century, there were a number of smiths (kitongik) in Nandi who spoke both Nandi and Maasai. The smiths gave the following account of their arrival. "After they had lost all their cattle from various causes, the Uasin Gishu Maasai quitted their homes and split up in different directions. Some of those who wandered into Nandi were hospitably received by Arap Sutek who was the only smith in Nandi at the time.[34]

Cereal processing/milling and breweries[edit]

Kipsigis people in earlier times used people and stone tools to process grain for various uses. The known tools were 'koitap-bai', meaning 'stone of millet' which was simple two stones used to grind grain by hand. Later times, the Kipsigis came to adopt a milling technology that used water peddle to motor a contraption of larger milling stones.

Nubian gin as a legacy liquor was very popular and reserved for elders only. It was also very important and used in various customs. Production of Nubian gin followed the production of cereal processing.

Salts: Munyek/Munyuk, Ng'enda and Muyeywek (roof soot)[edit]

The Kipsigis used to rear their livestock occasionally with salts usually obtained from rocks or by having their livestock water at a stream with hard salty water usually discovered by observing red-brown slimy scum on rocks around the water body.

Pregnant women would occasionally chew Ng'eenda but the Kipsigis did not join the missing link to obtain salts for their meals. In place of salts, the Kipsigis would apply roof soot, especially on preserved meat for a salty aromatic effect.


The Kipsigis did not mint their money but there is context of usage of cowrie shells among other forms of currency. Notably between the Kipsigis and Abagusii was barter trade that mainly included the exchange of agricultural produce for children or cattle.


Plants were prominent in the culture and heritage of the Kipsigis. Most importantly, plants were sacred to the Kipsigis and used some specific plants to construct an alter; explicitly, an alter was exclusively made from plants. Plants were also utilized as medical resources and the knowledge of the various plants was treasured and kept from one generation to the next.


History (disasters and emergencies, expansion, prosperity and orgoik)[edit]

The earlier Kipsigis population occupied what would be today's Kipkelion East and Kipkelion West constituencies. In oral traditions, the Kipsigis consider Belgut their first populous settlement. Much of Kericho and southward was occupied by Maasai people, Bureti and portions of Belgut were occupied by Abagusii and Western portions of Belgut were occupied by the Luo people. The Kipsigis began as just a small group of Nandi people who settled in an area North of River Chemosit (Itare River) and an area South of Kipchorian River (River Nyando); and expanded within 80 years to a century to an expanse larger than today's Kipsigis' regions.

The prosperity and expansion of the Kipsigis population and jurisdiction was remarkable. They had thwarted Kisii people out of Kericho and driven them South to Southern portions of Bureti. They had also attritioned the Maasai claim to Kericho and drove them towards Chemosit River and then made a treaty to expand their territories South respectively. There was then sudden catastrophes including famine, starvation, rinderpest disease and the disastrous annihilation of the men of Kaplelach age set in a failed battle, the battle of Maagoori. For sometimes thus, the Kipsigis community was in the brink of collapse but it is observed that the community swiftly adopted raft measures including the relaxation rules on sociosexuality and aggressive adoption of Maasai, Luo and Abagusii.

Disastor Spell Period[edit]

Kaplelach age-set and the Holocaust of Maaggoori[edit]

The Kaplelach ageset of between 1870 and to their anhilation in about 1890 are majorly portrayed as a generation who had issues of systematic indiscipline in war who had grown invincible and believed they would thrash any opponents. They are infamously narrated to have instigated horrid and painful ordeals on the neighboring communities. One such example is found in oral traditions of how the legion of Kaplelach armies raided a community of Maasai people and killed everyone in the affected locality, then went on to cut the ears of Maasai women so that they would get hold of the beautiful ornaments; they also cut their feet and hands to remove bells and other ornaments and left them to be eaten by crocodiles in River Amalo.

Their next target was the Abagusii community. They banded their armies together and began preparing to raid. The new difference from other generations was that the Kaplelach wanted to eject Abagusii and kill anyone in site while the other generations usually would just instead run stealth stock theft that ensured the besieged remained with some cattle to milk. They then defied warning of deviners and the rebuke of the elders and ventured to Abagusii land. In a covert plan and in retaliation, the Maasai had intelligence of the plans of the Kipsigis armies, they martialed an overnight vigilante of Maasai, Kuria and Abagusii guerilla warriors in River Maagoori (River Migori) and here, the stealth vigilantes cornered the Kipsigis legion and slaughtered them one by one; the major element being surprise and confusion. Out of the legion, only a bunch survived the holocaust by survival tricks or the occasional one or two left alive to narrate the ordeal to the Kipsigis people.

  • Techjog of Bureti after whom many dormitories of high schools within Emet ab Kipsigis are named.

Menya Arap Kisiara[edit]

Menya was a member of the Kapkaon clan. He is the great-grandfather to Johanna Ngeno. He is a legend among the Kipsigis people. He mitigated a treaty with the Maasai that resulted in peaceful migration of Maasai from Kaplong in Sotik all through to Trans-Mara and Narok.


The Kipsigis had wizards who would heal and treat or read omens or foresee or bless. Such individuals included chepsogeiyot- a seer and healer; and Motirenik- Masters of culture and ceremonies and Tisiik- Priests. Orgoik seems to be alien to Kipsigis and with an origin in Nandi. In Kipsigis an Orgoiyot is any member of the Talai clan while in Nandi, it has a meaning of collective or paramount leader with paranormal powers.

Talai clansmen were adopted to the Nandi from Segelai Maasai who actually were also adopted by the Maasai from the Marakwet faction known as Sengwer who also happen to be adopted from Sirikwa (Iraqw).

The orgoik have an origin among the Maasai and are known to them as Laibon. They came to the Nandi and established themselves in Nandi but a predominant family of the Talai in Nandi, the Turgat family had three sons sent to Kipsigis: Arap Koilege, Arap Boisyo and Arap Buiygut. These three are the brothers to Koitalel arap Samoei. Initially, their benefactor was Arap Kiroisi- the father to Mugenik.

The three brothers would later on about 1903 be deported to Kikuyuland while their siblings and immediate families consisting of about 700 individuals were banished to Gwassi in Homa Bay County and stayed there excommunicated between 1934 and 1962. They were later on resettled in Kablilo, Sigowet-Soin, Kiptere, Ainamoi, Belgut and some few in Emgwen.[35]

Kipchomber or Arap Koileke, the Chief Medicine Man of the Kipsigis, with his son, Sonaiet or Arap Kipchomber, his principal advisers, and the headmen of Bureti and Sotik. Kipchomber is the second from the spectator's left in the second row; his son is sitting below him. This photo was taken at Mombasa, hence the garb of the Coast people

Among the Kipsigis, there is speculative talk that implicates Daniel Arap Moi and Jomo Kenyatta as having relations with the Orgoik.

Kipchomber arap Koilege[edit]

He lived in Cheriri in Kiptere before he was imprisoned by the British and sent to Rusinga island of Kisumu. He was instrumental in dispersing Luo people from Kiptere to Sondu.

Cultural attire worn by Jomo in art statue

Among the Kipsigis, and perhaps among all the other Kalenjin, Arap Koilege is believed to have blessed Kenyatta Jomo and handed to him his attire which included a hide, a belt colloquially called 'Kenyatet', a head gear among others after which, Koilege asked Kenyatta to visit a leader of the Maasai who was a Laibon. The attire was worn by Jomo very many ceremonial times when he was the president of Kenya.

Chebochok Kiptonui arap Boisio[edit]

Chebochock was the son to Kimyole Arap Turgat. After Kimyole was ousted and assassinated by the Nandi, Chebochok and his two brothers found refuge among the Kipsigis people while Koitalel Arap Samoei found refuge among the Tugen people. Chebochock Kiptonui arap Boisio settled in Londiani. He established himself a kingly estate. He empowered and commandeered Kipsigis armies to acquire land towards Laikipia.

He is reported or speculated to have fathered a boy to a widow who used to herd cattle, she was known as Wambui. The boy is reported to have been named Johnstone Peter Kamau. She then moved to a farm in Nyeri where she married Muigai but who later divorced her because of issues associated with cuckoldry.[36]

In 1913, Chebochok Kiptonui Arap Boiso and his two brothers were banished to Fort Hall and Nyeri. Coincidentally, Wambui was assigned the role to look after the three brothers by the Europeans.[36]


Mugenik arab Sitonik[edit]

He was the cousin to Koitalel arap Samoei and lived in village called Sotik to where Sotik town is currently situated.

He gave prophecies that the Kipsigis still hold in great anticipation and record. These prophecies were even recorded by Rafael Kipchambai arap Tabaitui and is usually played by Kass fm on occasion. The prophecies include:

  • Sotik police officers and station – where he referred that they were Kipsigis children who held what appeared to be cooking sticks but their appearance stroke fear among commons.
  • Sotik KCC and two bridges under color bar – He prophesied of two bridges where one (located at the Kisii-Sotik road, at the west periphery of Sotik town) would be exclusive to the white people while the other at Kimase, would be exclusive to the natives.
  • Migration of Kosobek- He mentioned that the Abagusii would come to Kipsigis land and live among them like vines of squash but would leave dramatically but peacefully and the Kipsigis would scramble markers on 'very beautiful huts.'
  • Profound migrations – Kipsigis people would acquire large portions of land and emigrate in two formations and direction; one toward Laikipia, and another, towards Tanzania.
  • Decimation of the Kipsigis people – That the vast Kipsigis populations of the Kipsigis will be decimated and then only limited to a very few remnants only in Bureti. He said that this would be a cause of "an uncircumcised boy".

Other Prophecies Accounts include:

  • Gender Equality and Rights of Women: It was foretold that a woman would own property just like a man and would work with their male counterparts, something which at the time was not only unheard of but unimaginable to the effect that the prophet was ridiculed for saying so.
  • The return of Caucasian/ British people: Some prophecies account for the return of Caucasian to the regions of Kipsigis (or Kenya extensively).
  • Kipsigis leadership: It is a prophecy and a curse that the Kipsigis will never be united or have a leader until the day when the corpse or remains of Kipjomber arap Koileken would be return from Nyeri to his kin in Kipsigis land.

Westernization and Colonial period[edit]

Westernization to Christianity[edit]

Catholic Church[edit]

The Catholic Church had its sentinel at Kericho to where Kenya's second-largest diocese is located in Kericho. The Catholic Church is perhaps one of the most aggressively accepted denominations among the Kipsigis because of their relaxed attitude of culture and the romanticized preservation of Kalenjin mythologies plus Christianization of Kalenjin traditional religion where aspects of religion and the Kipsigis manner of worship was taken up and accepted. For instance, a Catholic church parish is colloquially called 'Kapkoros'.

One notable priest nicknamed Chemasus by the Kipsigis is most famous for converting Kipsigis into Christianity by indoctrination that it is allowed to drink alcohol (Nubian gin in this case) but in moderacy and that Asis is the same as Yahweh thus in the Catholic parishes in Kipsigis, it is not wrong to call the Israel/Christian God Cheptalel or Asis or any other attributes of Asis.

Africa Inland Mission[edit]

Africa Inland Mission established their first centers in Cheptenye in Belgut (a church and a rescue/education center for girls/young woman rescued from female genital mutilation and initiation) and in Tenwek in Bomet. The group later broke into Africa Gospel Church'and Africa Inland Church, with the latter establishing themselves mostly among the Nandi and in Litein. Africa Gospel Church became the de facto Christian denomination especially in Belgut and in Bomet. Africa Inland Mission took a more reformatory approach where converts had to completely disassociate with traditional religion and traditional life; male adult converts were baptized with only one wives of their choice while the others would not. Unlike the Catholic church, Asiisian religion was expressly not be faceted to Christianity.

Impact and Implications of Westernization/Christianization[edit]


As a result of neglect of heritage, the culture of the Kipsigis became quickly westernized. The Kipsigis have since become the most westernized as compared to other Kalenjin and other nilotes.

Health and education[edit]

Imperial rule[edit]

The Kipsigis especially of Cheptenye in Sosiot and Tenwek in Bomet had been coerced by the British through the Africa Inland Mission to give up Orgoik in exchange for scholarships and a peace treaty with British. This was easily arrived at with the leadership of Tenkwek AIM clergy, who led the propaganda against the Orgoik. The christian missionaries employed extensive deceipt to paint the Kipsigis spiritual leaders (Orgoik) as evil so that they could also get a better foothold on the beliefs of the Kipsigis. The christian missionaries misrepresented that the few converts that they had converted to christianity represented the Kipsigis nation. Part of this propaganda was to associate the Orgoik with the failures and disasters that had faced the Kipsigis including the failed battle of Mogori.

The British then prepared the Lumbwa Treaty and subsequently arrested all the Orgoik and their families and put them in Kericho cells. The British facilitated the few Kipsigis, who had been blackmailed and deceived to convert their religion, met at Kipkelion town, then called Lumbwa, and deliberated a treaty in the form and make of Kipsigis traditions under a custom called Muuma or Mummiat. It is detailed that the British promised together with this few Kipsigis to collaborate and not harm each other then they went on to savour a dog in two parts and each party buried their half.

The British then exiled the spiritual leaders of the Kipsigis to Russinga Island in Kisumu. This atrocity against the Kipsigis nation has never been redeemed to date.

In their anger, it is said that the Orgoik cursed the Kipsigis and the Nandi (Mee Kipsigis ne-ki mee tereet, ko me Nandi ne-ki mee Sotet: May the Kipsigiss die the manner of broken pot and may the Nandi die the manner of a broken calabash)

Big game in Sotik plains in 1910

Big game[edit]

For some time after the Nandi resistance, the Uganda protectorate was marketed in the western nations as a wild get-away destination for Big-Game enthusiasts. The Kipsigis' land strategically had the forested Sotik plains which wild life roamed freely. The Kipsigis people at the time being called 'Lumbwa' had its warriors become porters to assist big-game hunters to kill various animals.

26th president of the US

Theodore Roosevelt recorded using the 405 Whinchester ammunition as the effective 'cure' against the ferocious Sotik lion.

Kipsigis County and Kipsigis County Council[edit]

Cheborge arap Tengecha, Senior Chief of the Kipsigis Tribe[edit]

He was a paramount Kipsigis chief appointed by the British. This way, the Kipsigis were ruled indirectly by the British. He was appointed to the Queens's 1961 Birthday Honours.

William Kimutai Martin, Secretary/Treasurer of the Kipsigis African District Council[edit]

He was appointed to the Queen's 1960 Birthday Honours.

Nandi Protest of 1923[edit]

A number of factors taking place in the early 1920s led to what has come to be termed the Nandi Protest or Uprisings of 1923. It was the first expression of organized resistance by the Nandi since the wars of 1905–06.

Primary contributing factors were the land alienation of 1920 and a steep increase in taxation, taxation tripled between 1909 and 1920 and because of a change in collection date, two taxes were collected in 1921. The Kipsigis and Nandi refused to pay and this amount was deferred to 1922. Further, due to fears of a spread of rinderpest following an outbreak, a stock quarantine was imposed on the Nandi Reserve between 1921 and 1923. The Nandi, prevented from selling stock outside the Reserve, had no cash, and taxes had to go unpaid. Normally, grain shortages in Nandi were met by selling stock and buying grain. The quarantine made this impossible. The labor conscription that took place under the Northey Circulars only added to the bitterness against the colonial government.

All these things contributed to a buildup of antagonism and unrest toward the government between 1920 and 1923. In 1923, the saget ab eito (sacrifice of the ox), a historically significant ceremony where leadership of the community was transferred between generations, was to take place. This ceremony had always been followed by an increased rate of cattle raiding as the now formally recognized warrior age-set sought to prove its prowess. The approach to a saget ab eito thus witnessed expressions of military fervour and for the ceremony all Nandi males would gather in one place.

Alarmed at the prospect and as there was also organized protest among the Kikuyu and Luo at that time, the colonial government came to believe that the Orkoiyot was planning to use the occasion of the Saget ab eito of 1923 as a cover under which to gather forces for a massive military uprising. On 16 October 1923, several days before the scheduled date for the saget ab eito, the Orkoiyot Barsirian Arap Manyei and four other elders were arrested and deported to Meru. Permission to hold the ceremony was withdrawn and it did not take place, nor has it ever taken place since. The Orkoiyot Barsirian Arap Manyei would spend the next forty years in political detention, becoming Kenya's, and possibly Africa's, longest-serving political prisoner.

Independence, settlement schemes and Nyanza boundary[edit]

The Kipsigis were oblivious to think about independence; they thought there was no might that would de-legitimize imperial rule for they (British) had killed Koitalel arap Samoei. Independence, therefore, was a magical and surprising outcome for the Kipsigis.

In 1963 however, the Kipsigis obtained loans which facilitated them to buy the white settlement schemes. 1000 Kenya shillings was equivalent to 40 acres of land.

Ethnic Datooga welcoming visitors with a dance. The Kipsigis came to consider the Datooga a lost Kalenjin tribe and thus there is an interest among many Kipsigis to visit The Datooga
A Datooga woman skinning a cow's hide; this is a practice similarly done by the Kalenjin in the same manner

In 1964, Kipsigis were living to the reaches of Borabu (in Abagusii land where the settlement schemes were located) adjacent to present Kericho county but Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel Arap Moi, Taita Towett (his protagonistic role in this agreement has been argued by some Kipsigis that it was because his origin is among tha Abagusii people- his clan is Zoigoek meaning they were adopted from Abagusii), Prof. Lawrence Sagini and the then Rift Valley province Provincial Commissioner, Simeon Nyachae agreed to move the Nyanza border to the currently known former Nyanza-Rift-valley border. The then Chepalungu (currently Sotik and Chepalungu constituencies) MP, Barmalel campaigned against this move (probably because he was a member of Talaai clan and the shift of boundary would alter his clans legacy)

By this timeline, Kericho, Lumbwa/Kipkelion, Sosiot and Sotik were the centre points of the whole of Kipsigis.

In the 1960s, there was significant emigration of the Kipsigis in their known territory to Mwanza and Tarime in Tanzania because at the time, Tanzania's Ujamaa communist system was a popular alternative to the Kenyan capitalist system. The reports of a Kalenjin group in Tanzania called Datooga may have also enticed the Kipsigis to commune and contact the lost tribe. The findings thus far is that the Datooga share certain customs with the Kalenjin but their interaction with the Abakusu has transformed some of their ways. It is noted that in Tanzania, the immigrants were frequently affected by Malaria and as a result, subsequent deaths and information on the same in 'Emet ab Kipsigis' led to an eventual pause to the emigration.



Milk gourd, a cultural symbol of the Kipsigis

After the Lumbwa treaty, the Kipsigis exercised a shift into Christianity and almost abandoned their culture. This took place in association with the Catholic Church which had its grounds in Kericho Town and Kaplong; Africa Inland Church which had its ground in Litein and Africa Gospel Church which had its grounds in Cheptenye, Sosiot – currently Cheptenye Boys' High School and Cheptenye AGC church and also in Tenwek, Bomet.

The Kipsigis have ceased naming their children by ancestral reincarnation because missionaries led them to believe it was an evil practice. Birth time naming still continue and as such, boys and girls are still named by the "Kip-" and "Chep-" names which usually makes up their second name. Girls and young women have ceased to be initiated or circumcised which subsequently, has led to the loss of "Tab-" naming. Boys and young men still circumcise and initiate and thus the "Arap-" naming system has been retained albeit the fact that the Kenyan Registra bodies all only for 25 characters of which the Arap title would lead to an excess, hence they only use cerfix to Arap naming system. The later version of Arap naming makes up the surname for initiated men and boys. The first names for the Kipsigis are the secular and gospel names traded from western cultures though the missionaries and pop-culture.

Currently among its youth, the Kipsigis are exercising a shift to pop culture. This is evident in the shift to initiation ceremonies held in conjunction with the various churches called banda en tililindo against the traditional Kipgaa. It is also evident in the robust gospel and secular music scene unlike any in Kalenjin.

Of the many customs that Kipsigis kept and performed, the current most prominent are the circumcision and initiation of boys and marriage by elopement and thus the current Kipsigis are nothing like their ancestors. To make it worse, the Kipsigis have a high-level of security and departmentalization of information and knowledge on their customs thus leading to constant misinterpretation and attrition of their culture.

The Kipsigis view "happiness" as a lack of negative experiences, indicating a quiet and calm state. This convention under the culture and positive psychology studies when contrasted to other indigenous communities of the gives researchers an obstacle in obtaining a qualitative or quantitative measure of happiness.[37]

Music, Film and written Arts[edit]

Contemporary Kalenjin music has long been influenced by the Kipsigis leading to Kericho's perception as a cultural innovation center in Kenya and effectively in the Great-Lakes Region of Africa.[38] The secular music scene is the pioneering and perhaps the most decorative and celebrated in Kipsigis and effectively in Kalenjin.

A song "Chemirocha III" collected by ethnomusicologist Hugh Tracey in 1950 from the Kipsigis tribe was written in honor of Jimmie Rodgers. The song's title is an approximation of the musician's name.[39] According to legend, tribe members were exposed to Rodgers' music through British soldiers during World War II. Impressed by his yodeling, they envisioned Rodgers as "a faun, half-man and half-antelope."[40]

The following musicians are credited for contributing tremendously to the culture preservation, cultural dynamism and communal identity:

  1. Rafael Kipchambai arap Tabaitui
  2. Tumbalal arap Sang
  3. Pastor Joel Kimetto (father of Kalenjin Gospel)
  4. Diana Chemutai Musila (Chelele)
  5. Aron Mike (Sweetstar)

Other Popular Kipsigis musicians include: Lillian Rotich, Mike Rotich, Maggy Cheruiyot, Josphat Koech Karanja, Cyrus Koech and Paul Kiprono Langat.[41] Some of the secular music artistes include: Morris, Charles Chepkwony, , Chebaibai, Ben Bii, , Naswa, 2nd Junior Kotestes, Cyrus, Brownny Star and Rhino Superstar.[42] Notable stars who have passed on include: Junior Kotestes and Weldon Cheruiyot (Kenene).[41]

Kimursi, an actor in the 1950 Technicolor adventure film: King Solomon's Mines, is credited as being of Kipsigis ethnicity. In the cast, he takes on the role of Khiva

Emerging socio-cultural trends and dynamics[edit]


In the 1980s, some of the first reports of HIV were reported in Kenya in Mombasa and in the decades that followed, the virus has infected many people and killed many too. 1% of the Kenyan population is believed to be infected as of 2020. The Kipsigis people have emphasized male circumcision as a cautionary measure of preventing HIV transmissions. The Kipsigis also like many other Kenyan communities have become educated on the matter; stigma has reduced by a big margin and only limited to isolated events. The infected individuals are being actively monitored by health institutions and adhere to ARV medication.

Cancer and carcinogenic food/drinks[edit]

The rural Kipsigis communities stereotypically take tea several times a day and preferably at very hot temperatures (about 72-degree Celsius). They also celebrate sour milk known colloquially as Mursiik and usually take it with vegetables and a thick paste of cooked maize/millet flour known colloquially as Kimyeet and Ugali in Swahili. Mursiik, in particular, has been highlighted by Tenwek Hospital to cause throat cancer especially in Bomet. Another thesis put forward by a district hospital in Busia, Western Kenya, points out that not only that caffeine is carcinogenic but at the intervals and volume of consumption plus the preferable temperatures of beverages such as tea and coffee are dangerous combination of risk factors causing the increasingly communal cases of various cancers and throat cancer in particular.

Although the reports and research put forward highlights caffeine beverages and sour milk, it is also imperative to consider that a significant demographic of the Kipsigis population are popular with indigenous Nubian gin brew and also with recognized alcoholic brands and thus this combination plus the popularity of hot beverages, caffeine beverages and Mursiik could also be a risk factor to consider.

Population Chart and Demographics[edit]

In the 2009 Kenya census, the Kipsigis population was 1,916,000 individuals; this made them the most populous tribe of Kalenjin confederation throughout the Great Lakes Region. In the 2019 Kenya census, the Kipsigis were 1, 932,000. This figure implies a plateauing phase of population growth. It is believed that this is because polygamy had been abolished until 2018; also that the Kenyan economy is slowing and life is becoming expensive due to Uhuru Kenyatta's government look east policy and extravagant borrowing.

Bomet County is believed to have the highest life expectancy in Kenya. Mzee Barnabas Kiptanui Arap Rob who is believed to have been born in 1879 was mystified as to have achieved longevity. He died in 2017 aged 133.[43]


Kipsigis community today has a diaspora presence predominantly in United States of America, United Kingdom, Australia, France, UAE, Tanzania and South Sudan. A majority of the diapora of Kipsigis origin are educated and well-qualified, usually with well-paying jobs. It is observed that like most other Kenyan diaspora, the Kipsigis diaspora have a positive attitude toward Kenya and more so on the Emet ab Kipsigis.

Together with other Kalenjin elite diaspora, there is an organization called 'Kwaneet' which usually operates a televised or teleconferenced programs on Kass media group.

Wilson Kiprugut of Kericho


Mercy Cherono of Sotik

Notable Kipsigis athletes (deceased, alive, retired and active) include:

The Kipsigis are not usually known to excel or even participate in soccer but Nicholas Kipkirui (Harambee Stars player contracted to Gor Mahia), Dominic Kiprono (contracted to Zoo Kericho F.C) and Isaac Kipyegon (contracted to Zoo Kericho F.C) are changing this stereotype.

Paul Kipsiele Koech of Sotik

Agriculture and agri-politics[edit]


Community Politics[edit]

The Kipsigis community is a rich political arena. Bomet County has been selected by a University based in Nairobi as a jurisdiction in which its Political Science department actively monitors. The Kipsigis present themselves in a united political front but Bomet County has been observed to promote quality politics. Radio stations such as Kass fm, Chamgei fm and Kitwek fm play a very important political role by way of hosting leaders and holding thematic political discussions.

The Kipsigis aspire to present Kenya a president. In part, some Kipsigis estimate anonymously that they have done so since Jomo Kenyatta (whom the Kipsigis sometimes refer to as Kipkemo) is alleged to be the biological son to Chebochok Kiptonui arap Boisio. During Daniel Moi's regime, the Kipsigis had Dr. Taaitta Towett who was being groomed by Daniel Toroitich arap Moi to become his successor but he later defected onto a leftist front and thus Daniel Moi engaged Towett in politics of attrition. Daniel Moi thus began grooming Professor Jonathan Kimetet arap Ngeno. Professor Jonathan was faced with opposition by culturalists who sidelined him as a man who had been initiated through Kimuutaat, a derogative term for the initiations held in conjunction with churches. William Kipchirchir Samoei arap Ruto whose origin and ethnicity is Kipsigis from the Komosi clan in Sigowet-Soin, is currently set to contend for the presidency in 2022.

The Kipsigis believe that they have supernatural impediment to their aspiration. This including the curses made by Oorgooiik as they were banished by British government, Christian AIM and Catholic churches and Kipsigis community followed by Lumbwa Treaty. Another superstitious impediment is believed to be the lost Kaplelach age-set who were decimated in River Maggori (River Migori) and thus there is an interest to demarcate a memorial cemetery for the killed soldiers. Apparently, there is a belief, too, that the remains of Oorgooiik in Nyeri and Meru should be returned to Kipsigis.

Prominent leadership[edit]

Dr. William Kipchirchir Samoei araap Ruto (Komosii clan): William Ruto is from the Kipsigis ethnicity but largely misunderstood and/or mistaken to be of Nandi ethnicity. The ability of a Nandi tribesperson to be elected a leader in Kipsigis and vice versa highlights the unity and coperation between Kipsigis and Nandi who still see each other as the diaspora of the other and as close kin even compared to other Kalenjin. Other geopolitically (Kipsigis-Nandi) inverted leaders include Tamason Barmalel from Nandi elected MP in Chepalungu and Isaack Ruto elected MP for Chepalungu and Governor for Bomet county.

William Ruto was the Member of Parliament for Eldoret North Constituency, Cabinet Minister for Education and Cabinet Minister for Agriculture. He is the incumbent Deputy President of Kenya. He has been serving in this docate since his first term between 2013 and 2017 and currently in his second term which began in 2018 and will wend in 2022. He has been deputizing the 4th president of Kenya, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta. William Ruto has since 2017 openly hinted and since declared to contend Kenya's 2022 presidential post.

  1. Francis Sigey (Kibororek): Ambassador of Kenya to Nigeria
  2. Joshua Terer (KipKesbaek): Ambassador of Kenya to India
Speaker of Parliament[edit]
  1. Moses Kiprono arap Keino (Kipkelezek clan): Third Speaker of the Parliament of Kenya from 1988 until 1991
  2. Professor Jonathan Kimetet arap Ng'eno (Becherek clan): Fourth Speaker of the Parliament of Kenya from 1991 until 1993
Cabinet Ministers and Cabinet Secretaries[edit]
Ministers of Kipsigis Ethnicity Infographic
Minister/Secretary Photo Clan Period Ministry Government Other Major Political Achievement
Dr. Taaitta Toweett Zoigoek clan 1961 Labour and housing Imperial East Africa
1962 Lands, Survey & Town Planning Imperial East Africa
1974 Education Government of Kenya
1974 Housing and Social Services Government of Kenya
Professor Jonathan Kimetet arap Ng'eno Becherek clan Education Government of Kenya
John Koech East African Community Government of Kenya
Franklin Bett Mochoek Clan 2008– Roads and Transportation Government of Kenya
Davis Chirchir 2013–2017 Engineering and Petroleum Government of Kenya
Eng. John Mosonik 2013–2017 Transport Government of Kenya
Charles Keter 2017– Now (Active) Energy Government of Kenya
Assistant Ministers and Principal Secretaries[edit]
Assistant Minister/ Principal Secretary Photo Clan Period Ministry Government Other Major Political Achievement
Members of Parliament[edit]
Member of Parliament Clan Parliament Constituency/ County Term (s) Other Major Achievement(s)
Tamason Barmalel Talaaii clan National Assembly Chepalungu Constituency 1969–1974
Alfred arap Soi Kimunai Kibororek clan
John Koech Chepalungu Constituency
Isaack Ruto Kipkendek clan Chepalungu Constituency
Issac Kipkorir Salat
Kipkalya Kones Becherek clan
Lorna Laboso Kibaek clan Sotik Constituency
Dr.Joyce Cherono Laboso Born to Kibaek clan (Married to Luo) Sotik Constituency 2009–2013 and 2013–2017
Johanna Araap Ngeno Kapkaoon clan
Charles Keter National Assemby Belgut Constituency
Magerer Kiprono Langat Kapchepkitwaek Kipkelion Constituency ODM chairperson
Aron Cheruiyot Senate Kericho County

Governors and Deputy Governors from the Kipsigis Ethnicity[edit]
Redress for violations by British colonial government[edit]

In 2017, a consortium from the Kipsigis community organized by Professor Paul Kiprono Chepkwony and lead by Karim Ahmad Khan sought redress for human rights violations committed by the British government during the colonial period. The plaintiffs were more than 100,000 ethnic Kipsigis victims and the members of Talai Clan

Provisions for Oorgoiik and Their Plight[edit]

The Talai clansmen returned or continued to peacefully live with Kipsigis people after independence. After the sinister campaign of AIM and Catholic church the Talai clansmen were sidelined and hated but today, they exist peacefully with the Kipsigis and take upon the identity of the Kipsigis equally like any other clansmen. Notably, the residents of Chepalungu constituency (today's Sotik and Chepalungu constituencies) voted in Tamason Barmalel, the grandson of Koitalel Arap Samoei, as their MP between 1969 and 1974.

Apparently, allocations of land made by the Kenyan Government under Taaita Towet and Daniel arap Moi to the Talai clansmen has been reported to be grabbed and commercialized by corrupt agents and thus, those living in Kericho live in wanting situations and poverty.

A section of the Kericho Tea farms and tea estates, part of the land annexed from the Kipsigis by the British and leased by Kenyan government to British companies (Finlay, Williamson Tea among others). Plans are underway to reclaim the land from the British government.
Mau Settlement and Poltical Evictions[edit]

Conflicts and Violence[edit]

An SOC correlation neural network by The Sentinel Project for factors that could trigger genocide in Kenya

The Kipsigis are known to be welcoming and hospitable but with a reputation to raise alarm and mobilize militant ranks in a short response time possible if attacked. Traditionally, they used to raid Abagusii, Maasai and Luo for cattle and for adoption of entire families or villages. In recent history, the Kipsigis have ceased to instigate cattle rustling (or people rustling!) as it has become an outdated and illegal practice. It is however observed that cattle rustling still occurs especially in Sotik where organized goons between Abagusii and Kipsigis delinquents operate systematic cattle theft. This thus creates a negative attitude among the Abagusii toward the Kipsigis and thus build up tensions that explode in conflicts most probably during post-elections. The government is also known to favour the Abagusii by giving them policing agents such as Anti-stock theft and General Service Units who arbitrarily and punitively beat up the residents of Sotik (while the real answer could most possibly be found by intensifying intelligence operations to nab the organized goons).

After independence and with the Kalenjin consciousness, the Kipsigis along with other highland nilotes have political unity that which is the target of political dynasties.

Most notably is the Mau forest government residence program that was perpetuated by Mwai Kibaki's government under the ministry of lands which saw many Kipsigis acquire land in Mau forest only for them to be forcefully evicted by the same government in 2008 and by Uhuru Kenyatta's government in 2018/2019. The evictions were violent, inconsiderate and uncompensated.

After a comprehensive risk assessment of social, economic and political factors that increase the likelihood of genocide in Kenya, the Sentinel Project's May 2011 report identified several risk factors including; a low degree of democracy, isolation from the international community, high levels of military expenditure, severe government discrimination or active repression of native groups, socioeconomic deprivation combined with group-based inequality and a legacy of intergroup hatred among other risk factors.

1992 Skirmishes[edit]

In 1991, multi-party democracy was a contentious issue as Kikuyu people had been angered by Moi's regime and associated aggressively authoritarian rule. The Kikuyu associated Kipsigis to Daniel Moi and then demonized them as retrogressive and enemies of democracy. The Kikuyu primarily supported Kenneth Matiba and in retaliation, the Kipsigis supported Daniel Moi.

The buildup of tension and hate resulted in pre-election ethnicity-based violence of 1992 where in Kipkelion constituencies, the Kipsigis torched houses of non-Kipsigis (excluding Nandi and other Kalenjin). This affected majorly the Kikuyu and Kisii people plus also Luo people. 5,000 people were killed and another 75,000 displaced in the Rift Valley Province, with the town of Molo being an epicenter of the violence. The conflict was primarily between the Kalenjin and Kikuyu communities with Land ownership cited as one of key reasons for the conflict.[44] The Kisii in Kipkelion fled to Nyanza, where they found refuge among their kin. As a result, the Kisii people bordering Bureti, Sotik and Narok West constituencies retaliated against the Kipsigis. This resulted in skirmishes in the region; primarily associated with groups of fighters from both ethnicities holding sentinel.

In effect, Kipkelion for some few years was void of Kikuyu and Kisii people. After the elections, Moi won and in turn, the Kipsigis were at ease and the violence stopped.

2007/2008 Post-Election Violence[edit]

While violence recorded in Sotik-Borabu and the rest of Kenya was during the post-election period, an area called Kagasiik in Sotik constituency along the Rift Valley-Nyanza boundary had already been experiencing skirmishes as early as August 2007.

The primary root for violence (post election) was the belief that the 2007 presidential elections had been rigged in favour of Mwai Kibaki and against Raila Omolo Odinga who the Kipsigis were rooting for. Strategically in 2007, Raila was receiving support from Kalenjin, Luo, Maasai and the Coastal-North Eastern peoples; it was the cutting edge support with a multitude of support and thus the results coming in favour of Kibaki was simply not possible. The results of the said elections are questionable to date.

The Kisii people were rooting for Mwai Kibaki. This led to tensions in the Nyaza-Rift boundary regions and in Nakuru county where the Kipsigis border or live with Kikuyu people. Immediately on 27 December 2007, skirmishes ensued in the said regions. Towns recorded ethnic cleansing war, barricading of roads with alight tyres and logs. The police were reluctant to stop the violence and in some instances, they are reported to have taken part in the violence.

In the Rift Valley – Nyanza boundary, groups armed with crude weapons had taken sentinel on both sides and were involved in confrontation and running battles. The sentinel groups on the Kisii side were reported to have martialled Chingororo vigilante who had mastered archery skills.

2018 Maa-Kipsigis Skirmmishes[edit]

The Maasai and the Kipsigis have historically and traditionally antagonized each other right from and a period earlier than the Maasai era. This usually manufested as cattle raids, eventual battles and the subsequent southward thwarting and ejection of the Maasai. After Kenya's independence, there have been periodic tensions between the Maasai and the Kipsigis which have backgrounds in history and traditions and fuelled by political incitement especially during the elections period. Politicians have been said to fuel the clashes with their remarks, both in public forums and on social media. In 2018 for instance, Narok County Senator Ledama Olekina, part of the Maasai community, has been criticized for remarks about the evictions.[45]

In 2018 particularly, the Uhuru government under the Minister of Lands evicted a section of the Mau Complex settlers who are mainly of Kipsigis ethnicity. The evictions were particularly forceful, inconsiderate, inhuman and without compensation. A major section of the Maasai leaders supported the evictions and are said or known to have committed hate speech. In the wake of the polarization, the Maasai are reported to have attacked Kipsigis evictees and in retaliation, Kipsigis men in Narok and Bomet counties retaliated. The battles implored the use of crude or/and traditional weaponry including nuts (a nut used to fit to a screw fitted onto a wooden handle about a foot and a half long), spears, bows and arrows, swords and torches (or at least, petrol/gasoline and lighters).

Following the 2018 evictions and Maasai-Kipsigis clashes, several human-rights defenders came together to file a paper in protest of the human-rights violations committed by the Kenyan government in evicting people from the forests; it said in part, "The actions of the Government of Kenya in forcibly evicting tens of thousands of people from forests violates a range of human rights, which are contained in international instruments to which Kenya is a State Party." Kenyan lawyer Leonard Sigey Bett filed a petition with the International Criminal Court at The Hague in the Netherlands challenging the evictions. It is however imperative to note that Environmental conservation groups generally support the eviction of people from the forest, but only if the exercise is done amicably and humanely.[45]

Science and academia[edit]

It is observed that among the Kipsigis, knowledge is measured binomially where to be thought of as knowledgeable, ng’om, one has to display the application of the corresponding knowledge.[46]

Dr. Taaitta Araap Toweett was a Kipsigis elite and political leader. He was awarded scholarship by the Kipsigis County Council in 1955 to the South Devon Technical College, Torquay, to study for a diploma in public and social administration. He obtained a B.A. (1956) and B.A. (Hons) 1959 from the University of South Africa. On his return from Britain in 1957, he was appointed Community Development Officer for Nandi District, the first African CDO to be recruited locally in Kenya. During this period was the editor of the Kipsigis vernacular magazine Ngalek Ap Kipsigisiek, published quarterly. He was one of the eight original Africans elected to the Legislative Council in 1958 as Member for the Southern Area, a constituency comprising mainly Kipsigis and Maasai Districts. He formed Kalenjin Political Alliance Party that later on got into an alliance with KADU. He served on the Dairy Board and played a crucial role in the foundation of the co-operative movement nationally. In 1960, 1962, 1963 he attended the Lancaster House Conferences held in London to draft Kenya's Constitution, paving the way for complete self-rule. Before Kenya's independence, He was appointed Assistant Minister for Agriculture (1960), Minister of Labour and Housing in 1961 and Minister of Lands, Surveys and Town Planning in 1962. After Kenya's Independence, he was appointed Minister for Education in 1969, Minister for Housing and Social Services in 1974, Minister for Education in 1976. He was also elected President of the 19th General Assembly of UNESCO (1976–78). In 1977, he finished his PhD thesis on "A Study Of Kalenjin Linguistics". In 1980, he was appointed as the chairperson of Kenya Literature Bereau. In 1983–1985, he served as the Charperson, Kenya Airways after which he was appointed the chairperson, Kenya Seed Company. He also served as a Director of the Kenya Times newspaper and went on to edit and publish his own newspaper, Voice of Rift Valley between 1997 and 2000.

Professor Jonathan Kimetet Araap Ngeno was a Kipsigis elite who was sponsored by African Inland Church from Litein to study in the United States. He was invited back to Kenya and reintegrated by Daniel arap Moi to achieve political attrition over Dr. Taaitta Toweett. He was appointed to Ministerial positions and was elected the Fourth Speaker of the Parliament of Kenya succeeding coincidentally his baghuleita (a male agemate who was initiated in the same seclusion home), Moses Kiprono arap Keino.

In the 1990s, Professor Davy Kiprotich Koech by then the Director of Kenya Medical Research Institute and Dr. Arthur O. Obel, the Chief Research Officer published in two medical journals the initial results of the newfound drug "Kemron" that was perceived from the preliminary study of 10 patients to cure AIDS. The drug was introduced in a public ceremony presided by Kenya's former President, Daniel Toroitch Arap Moi and the work of the new wonder drug discovered was hailed as a major step against HIV/AIDS.[47]Kemron was the trade name for a low-dose of alpha interferon, manufactured form of a natural body chemical in a tablet form that dissolves in the mouth.[47] Clinical trials of Kemron funded by WHO in five African Countries did not find any health benefits reported by Kemri Scientists. Thereafter, WHO in a press release in its Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland termed Kemron as an experimental drug of unproven benefit for HIV/AIDS treatment. The American National Institute of Health concluded that no one had been able to duplicate the effects claimed by scientists behind Kemron drug.[48] In 1998 Prof. Davy Koech led the Commission of Inquiry into the Education System of Kenya. Hosted by Kenya Broadcasting Cooperation (KBC) in 2019, Prof. Koech cited bad peer review on his experimental drug and that he was currently overseeing reexamination of the Kemron drug and further research in China.

Professor Richard Kiprono Mibey has discovered more than 120 species of fungi, made major input to the discovery of environmentally friendly fungi for bio-control of the obnoxious water hyacinth weed in Lake Victoria has contributed to the preservation of rare and highly specialised micro-fungi of Kenyan plants.

Professor Paul Kiprono Chepkwony, the incumbent governor of Kericho County has declared in a Kenyan comedy show, Churchill Show (hosted in Tea Hotel Kericho in 2018) a lengthy list pending and granted patents on various fields of Biochemistry.

Professor Moses King'eno Rugut is a Kenyan Research Scientist and the current C.E.O the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation.[49] He sits in the board of National Quality Control Laboratory,[50] Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization, ccommittee member on Drug Registration at Pharmacy & Poisons Board since 1999 and National Museums of Kenya.He also served as the Director General of the defunct KARI that was de-gazetted and was preceded by a newly established state agency KALRO[51] and as Deputy Secretary at the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology[52] before being appointed the chief executive officer, National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation. He was awarded Head of State's Commendations in the year 2008 for his distinguished service to the nation[53] and subsequently awarded with the Order of the Grand Warrior, OGW in the year 2016[54] Prof. Moses Rugut has authered, co-authered or authered publications alongside other authors. Some of these publications include: Seroepidemiological survey of Taenia saginata cysticercosis in Kenya; Diagnosis of Taenia saginata cysticercosis in Kenyan cattle by antibody and antigen ELISA; Anthelmintic resistance amongst sheep and goats in Kenya and Epidemiology and control of ruminant helminths in the Kericho Highlands of Kenya.

Gladys Chepkirui Ngetich at the Rare Rising Stars Awards of 2018

Gladys Chepkirui Ngetich is a Kenyan engineer from Kipsigis tribe, and a Rhodes scholar[55] pursuing a doctorate degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Oxford, in the United Kingdom.[56][57] She is the recipient of the Tanenbaum Fellowship and the Babaroa Excellence Award.[58][59] In 2018, Ngetich was credited with a patent in collaboration with Rolls-Royce Plc.[56] Her research work has been in BBC Science and the Oxford Science Blog and Medium.[56] She received the ASME IGTI Young Engineer Turbo Expo Participation Award, for her paper at the 2018 Annual American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) conference.[56] In September 2018, Business Daily Africa named Ngitech among its "Top 40 Under 40 Women in Kenya in 2018".[60] In 2019 she started investigating sustainable space science using a Schmidt Science Fellowship.[61] Ngetich is the co-founder of the ILUU, a Nairobi-based non-profit that aims to inspire girls and women.[56][62]

Academic institutions[edit]

Emet ab Kipsigis hosts the main campuses of University of Kabianga, Kenya Highlands Evangelical University and Bomet University. It also hosts Kericho Teachers' College.

Primary schools within emet ab Kipsigis with a long history often bear names of cultural value. Boarding secondary/ high schools in the southern Rift region have co-ed dormitories named after heroes, heroines and/or legends. Such eponyms for co-ed dormitories include: Menya or Kisiara or Menya Kisiara, Techog or Tejog and Moi. In universities and colleges, similar to secondary schools, co-ed dormitories can bear the same names but significantly and more recently, social co-ed organizations of the Kipsigis are seen to emerge in all universities in Kenya with a context of Kalenjin unity.

Media and information dissemination[edit]

Kipsigis people of Kenya use Safaricom, Airtel, Telkom and Faiba connection to access GSM, WCDMA, LTE and fibre-optic service provision from Jamii Telkom's Faiba. About 8 in 10 adults among the Kipsigis own a phone of some sort. Radio is still quite popular with radio stations dedicated to the Kipsigis including Chamgei FM, Kitwek FM. About 1 in 20 Kipsigis households have a satellite TV from startimes, Zuku, DStv, Bamba TV and GoTV. They also have access to postal services by posta kenya.

Kipsigis Media Identity[edit]

In Kenya, the Kipsigis are stereotypically known for mother tongue interference when speaking Swahili and thus, comedians in Kenya get punchlines by just speaking Swahili like the Kipsigis. The Kipsigis are primarily thought to prefer teaching, military and policing careers. Among the Kipsigis, the Bomet Kipsigis are thought to be taking up allotments in varsity placement thus in many Kenyan varsities, there is a considerable co-ed organisations of Bomet students who are characterized by browned teeth and flocking to Christian Union societies.

Places of interest[edit]

  • Kipsigis Hill: Overlooking Londiani junction, the hill is sacred to the Kipsigis and of both cultural and historical importance to the Kipsigis ethnicity. It was here were the first circumcisions were practiced.
  • Kericho town: This the most populous town of the Kipsigis nation and as such also regarded as the socio cultural centre of the Kalenjin. This town is the capital of Kericho County. This is a high altitude town with fertile soils that has seen the establishment of many tea farms in the area. The tea leaves from this town are of the highest international quality for its brightness, attractive color, brisk flavor and textures of fragrant leaves. Some of the largest tea companies including Unilever Kenya, James Finlay and Williamson tea are based here. Kericho hosts Africa's largest Sikh Gurudwara[63] and the second largest Catholic cathedral in Kenya.[64] Gurdwara Sahib is built on the site of the home and workshop of Kericho Wagon Works founder Sant Baba Puran Singh Ji of Kericho. Chandarana Records, a pioneer of Benga music and the Kenyan music recording industry is based in Kericho town.
  • Sotik town: The home of the Kipsigis prophet, Mugenik.
  • Sosiot town: Located in Belgut, Sosiot is a town of ancient antiquity to the Kipsigis. The name sossiot refers to an instrument that is used to clean gourds. It may imply that this area where the town is located originally had a proliferation of the sossiot tree whose branches are used to make this cleaning instrument which is also named after the tree.
  • Bomet town: Formerly known as Soot, it is the Capital of Bomet County and the Sister city to Milwaukee. It hosts Tenwek community (Tenwek Hospital, Tenwek Boys' High School, Chebonei Girls' High School, Tenwek Africa Gospel Church and Tenwek Hydroelectric dam) that was established by Africa Inland Mission and currently associated and branded by Africa Gospel Church.
  • Fort Ternan: A prehistoric site where Kenyapithecus fossils were first discovered by Louis Leakey in 1962. There is a museum about 15 km from Fort Ternan Town.
  • Kapkatet town: The current centre of Kipsigis community. It hosts a dedicated Kipsigis museum and Tengecha schools dedicated to the Kipsigis chief Cheborge arap Tengecha. It also hosts University of Kabianga, Kapkatet campus.


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  • A. C. Hollis. The Nandi: Their Language and Folklore. Clarendon Press: Oxford 1909.
  • Ember and Ember. Cultural Anthropology. Pearson Prentice Hall Press: New Jersey 2007.
  • Kosibon, Elijah Kipngetich (2018). An Oral Narrative about Kapchebereek Clan Among the Kipsigis People of Kenya to His Son Dr. Festus Kipkorir Ngetich. Unpublished.
  • Burnette C. Fish and Gerald W. Fish: The Kalenjin Heritage; Traditional Religious and Social Practices: World Gospel Mission and William Carey Library. 1995, 1996.
  • Manners, Robert A. The Kipsigis of Kenya: Culture Change in a 'model' East African Tribe. In Three African Tribes in Transition. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1950.
  • Mwanzi, Henry A. A History of the Kipsigis. Nairobi: East African Literature Bureau, 1977
  • Ochardson, Ian Q. "Supernatural Beliefs of the Lumbwa." Political Record DC/KER/3/1. District Commissioner's Office, Kericho: 1918.

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