Sunday 17 May 2020
Clan as it applies to the Kalenjiin here means the larger unit of family that is defined by a totem as an emblem. So we take reference from the totem, be it animal, bird, insect, reptile, or such heavenly phenomena as sun and lightning. The people loved their totem "animal", tyoondo, and identified so closely with it. No-one was allowed to kill an animal that was held as a totem by a section of the community without cause and permission from the particular clan. Like in cases of execution of capital offenders, the family members were given the last opportunity to expel the erring animal from the clan before it could be set upon. A member of the clan was required to throw a leaf instead of a spear, club, or arrow, at the animal - symbolically throwing the first stone - before the rest could hurl real weapons at it. This rule may have had an animal preservation motive in mind. The ancient Egyptians went to an even greater limit in expressing love for their animal totem. Both the Kalenjiin and the ancient Egyptians observed clan rules under the ethical rules of Maat - precisely under the same name, maat, you may need to know. The ancient Egyptians went ahead and domesticated where they could, their totem animal in very large numbers, treated them as family members, and embalmed them upon their death as if they were human. Such have been found in plenty in tombs. Christianised Roman emperors, notably Justinian, banned the maat system in Egypt around the fifth/sixth century AD, calling it zoolatry - worship of animals (This intro courtesy of: Kagiptai).
The Nandi society's organisational structure was premised on two principles. The first kind of organisation (in no particular order of significance) was political structuring. Perhaps no other Kalenjin community had as elaborate an arrangement as the bororiet of the Nandi. There are eight (again note the multiples of four, probably a significance that these are men-only affairs!) bororiosiek. These are made up of five large and three minority but fiercely conservative bororiosiek. It is instructive that people of one oreet could live in different bororiosiek but with no change in the clan. The Kipkenda clan is represented in the populous Kap Chepkendi, Kap Melilo (the only bororieet with a totem symbol, cheplangeet) and Kaptalam but are all Kipkenda. It is the authors contention that the bororieet was a precursor and a Nandi civilisation form of multipartyism. However, much on this topic is to come later.
The second is the family, filial or blood relationship which was markedly classified by a reference to a family oreet (plural oratinwek NOT ortinwek which means routes) defined by "tiondo" or totem (animal) which is actually a misnomer since even the sun is part of the animals. Since numbers are significant for the Nandi and by extent the Kalenjin, there are roughly 16 oratinwek against about 26 tiong'ik because some oreet carry more than one tiondo. Noteworthy is that the Nandi regard the crested crane (Kong'oony) as the first animal to be alloted (keroob) while the hyena (kimageetiet) is reputed as the last to be alloted. In between are other animals. It is important to note that some of the animals that are sacred to the Nandi are not found in other Kalenjin tribes. The converse is also true. Most of what I have put down here was revised from an entry at Kagiptai which seems to borrow from Huntingford who compiled the story from informers that were probably young and didn't have enough information. For in that report, the frog (and there is a particular one revered by this clan) and the bee are grouped as Kipkeda. This is way off the mark since the frog belongs to the oreet of Kuchwa (frog, of the late Bishop Alexander Muge - Kap Kunguren) while the bee (to which the Matelong family belongs) is Kipkenda. To the best of the writer's knowledge the Kipkenda clan is made up of two different bees but is exclusively a bee-clan. The first bee is the 'maimi' bee, the honey-bee which makes honey-combs and deposits the nectar on rock crevices and boondet (hives). The Matelong family belongs to this clan. The second is a special type of a bee, which are called Chep Kaburiinik. These bees are characterised by a 'red colour', non-aggressiveness and 'no-sting', they circulate the sky and usually around mid-day if one shot an arrow, quite a swarm came down with it. Listen to the 'tolololeet' or typical swarm of bees sound. They make their honey in earth (ground)-crevices. The Kap Achoro (Kap Sigoong) family, which is originally from Terik represents this family.
It will not be fair to leave out the importance of oreet, however sketchy. To a large extend, the Nandi peoples' daily life was determined by the oreet. For example, although the Talai clan are revered (even feared), they were not allowed to complete an induction through the rights of passage of men before coming out of seclusion. The most defining distinction, 'kamuiiset and riikset' are excluded from their ceremonial menu. As a result, the Talai, the Mooi Kogo (Chepkogosioot) and Kiboiis (Leelwek) are NOT allowed to be 'matirioot', ostensibly because 'they cannot lead where they didn't go (ma tarei tumdo)! Consequently, during the two critical final ceremonies, sons of these two clans go to sleep at home. It is noteworthy that the Kiboiis (Lelwek) and Talai (Kutoonoi, or kutwo) are of Maasai in origin. On the other hand, traditionally, a Kiptabkei is a 'ng'wan guut' meaning in the case that the community is to pronounce a curse (chubiisiet) on anybody it was their preserve. Additionally, because the Tungo clan is, for purposes of prominence, the 'least important' clan symbol, their daughters are not subjected to the 'cheptab oreet age ne weendi oreet age' paradigm. Consequently, they are allowed to praise their father's tungo..hence the occassional ululation by a tungo girl is unmistakenly interspersed with 'eeeeei tungo goinyoooo'.
Going to Kapkoros was also ordered around the oreet. However, the author does not have details beyond the fact that going to Kapkoros was largely a more or less a tumdo business. Indeed, the Kapkoros ceremonies was more of a political organisational excursion in which bororiosiek took part in prayers that were obviously determined by the clan composition. Additionally, the oreet determined strictly where one could or could not marry from in a classical understanding of the consequences of in-breeding as taught by 'genetic vigour' scholars. Likewise, for example some clans were not supposed to go for koiito, they couldn't be accepted 'ma kii li" again and without the slightest intent to spite the tungo clan is one such. Hence the jest "ki boo the rebei ma soomei". One controversial Kipkenda clan 'don't' which seems to have been overtaken by events is the interesting 'banning' of a Kiptabkei - Kipkenda marriage. This may have been informed, as was always the case, by a repitative disaster which the Kipkenda family attributed to marrying cherereet. Whether this is still the case is not known to the author. However, in a recent event, the Kap Matelong of Rongai in Nakuru gave their daughter to a Kitabkei of Cheptabach in Sireet, Nandi Hills. The couple have since had kids and it would seem safe to bet that they will be happier for many generations to come.
Finally, oreet determined to a large extent the socio-economic lifestyles of the Nandi. In this regard, livestock were not owned by an individual, at least not strictly. With elaborate marking of the livestock, each oreet was allocated a unique way of 'branding' the animals usually with respect to marks on the ears. Thus, Moi (Kong'oony) perforated the ears of their animals as did almost all other Moi oreet. It is this that you find in the 'girls' of this oreet, like my grandmother, who praise their father's household with the ululation 'Kap Bar iit goinyoo'. Other oreet had a similar branding with the ears, either left or right, cutting off of the tip (muut) or mapping 'fingers' on the ears 'sach' and similar marks. Thuis means that in cases where the livestock straight, a man would be able to know that the animal in question belonged to a certain clan and the owner(s) was easily identifiable.
I have attempted to classify the oreet with a deliberate show of an example of a family in the Nandi country. It is not guaranteed that the information is entirely accurate. In the table herebelow, view my attempt at a demographic classification of the clans. Any comments and additions for the families are definitely welcome.
Example of family
Kap Chepkimom/ kap Cherimbor (Prof. Some), Kap Leitich, Kap Sisei Masoomei che ruutoe, Kap bar iit
Kap Kutei, Kap Ng'atiip
Kap Manyei Ngok (ngokiet not ng'ogi!)/ Kap Yop Terik, Kap Charicha
Kap Chelilim (Rev David arap Riirei), Kap Nam Emet, Kap Terengia (Kap Magoi), Kap Chemagar, Kaap Mugeen, Kaap Siroon
Kap Matelong, Kap Mugeeni (in the Kipsigis country: Hon. Wilson arap Leitich and Hon. Isaac Ruto and Davy Koech), Kap Cheptum, Kaap Toorkoi (Kap Torkoi), Kap Kiliku (You've probably heard of Kap Jimmy as a reference to boys initiated according to the "church" way. The man Jimmy Kipngetich Keter belongs to this family as does Dr. Tanui of Ol'Lessos Educational Centre, Kap Mamaet, Kap Melsuwo, Kap Toroor, Kap Mateitei
Maimi che ngoimi ko ba go
Kap Acharo (Kap Sigoong), Kap Chemuge, Kap Mararen (Late Hon Stanley Metto), Kap Cheptile (The Late Bishop Ezekiel Bireech, Hon. Kipruto Kirwa), Kap Tap Tengelei (yes of the colonial migration to Kabiyet fame!), Chemong' (Prof. Mengech), Kap Koisamoo, Kap Cheleel
Chebirirkong Kaap Ng'ochoi, Kaap Tiris, Chepturo
Kap Cheptueen Kap Marende
Hon. Samuel arap Ng'eny/ Joel Chemiroon's family/ Prof David Serem's Kap Mutwa (formerly of Maseno), Kaap Kesebee
Kapiil, bale gut ak kutung
Kap Koimur of Kitale (owners of the former Kogos bakery building in Eldoret), Kap Chamu (Late Magistrate Chelulei), Kap Cheligo
Kap Sigiis (former Cllr. Andrea arap Murei, Tulon), Kap Bargach, Kap Machichim, Kaap Kirgit Beek (Kaap Kiyeng)
Sogoom Kap yubei
Kap Rotuuk (Late Hon. Jean-Marie Seroney), Kap Chebwai (Hon David Koros), Kap Kerebei, Kap Kong'et Luk-Kap Kong'eeluk (PS Tirop), Kap Tiirei
Kap Cheptembur, Kap Cheborus
Kap Chesaniak (the Ruguts of Kap Simatwo), Kap Mugunya (Paul Metto of Lessos), Kap Bureeti (Kap Hamisi of Mogoon), Kap Koiya
Ki ma peel ame o
Taiwet (Kap Mwaigei?)
Kap Tarno, David arap Beet (Kabuson, Kabiyet
Che kwes tibiik eng' kutus ago toloos eng' kubees
Kap Maraba (Balozi Chumba)/ Kap Mutwa/ Kaap Sato
Kibwalei Katamwa/ Kap rat setio let
Kap Chongei, Kap Chemurungu, Kap Mutoor, Kap Buigut
Kap Kesgeny, Kap Nyaliil
Koros, Kap Tageei Kou ngat ta unda koek che(go)
Tisieet Kap Buusia
Kap Chepkicho, Kap Chulai
Kap Kunguren (Late Bishop Muge, Paul of Mogoon)
Maram koong ram toliil
Kap Kesei, Kap No (Hon. John Sambu), Kap Moeek (Hon. Kosgey), Kap Chepchoge
Kap Bwaibei, Kap Cheramuk, Kap Kelem (Kap Cheepchoge), Kap Kipkeen?
Belioot (+ nyiiritiet 'chameleon')
Kap Chemogos, Kap Chepsuto, Kap Milkija (Dr Kimaiyo of Referral), Kaap Chebwaachar
Kiram gel koe mooi
Kap wariir ko loo komi Namuge
Kap Chemageet, Hon. Tarus
Korap oor/ Kipeetu
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I wanted to wish you all a very happy and fruitful year 2019 full of challenges to help you grow!