Kenya: Ruto, Moi Battle Spills to Elders

21 September 2020

The supremacy battle between Deputy President William Ruto and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi has cascaded to the Myoot-Kalenjin Council of Elders.

This follows a decision by Tugen Council of Elders to return the leadership instruments that the late President Daniel arap Moi was given in 1955 to their Nandi counterparts.

Myoot is the umbrella body of all the 10 sub-tribes of Kalenjin-- Nandi, Kipsigis, Tugen, Marakwet, Keiyo, Pokot, Sabaot, Cherang'any, Ogiek and Terik-- and makes major decisions for the community. Both DP Ruto and the Baringo senator are eyeing the community's and elders' blessings as they jostle to inherit Mzee Moi's mantle ahead of 2022 presidential poll.

On Sunday, a section of Kalenjin elders led by David Chepsiror, dismissed the cultural rite that took place last Thursday, accusing those who participated of misleading the community.

The elders said it was wrong for the Tugen elders to purport that they were returning the leadership mantle bestowed on Moi 65 years ago without the blessing of all Kalenjin elders and children of the former President.

Leadership baton

"The Baringo elders who travelled to Sochoi, Nandi to return the leadership instruments that Mzee Moi was given did not follow the right procedure. At no point have we as elders said we want what was given to Moi. In fact, if we needed those regalia, it would be necessary for the council's meeting to be convened and make a formal request from Moi's family," explained Mr Chepsiror.

Read: Ruto, Gideon rivalry escalates after DP 'coronation'

They added that when Mzee Moi was installed, the leadership baton was given to him and not the Tugen community, hence there is no way the elders can act on the behalf of his family. "What are they returning when what was given to Moi is still with his family?" Asked Mr Chepsiror, who is also a Nandi elder.

Mr Yusuf Keitany, another elder from Keiyo, dismissed the ceremony, arguing that it is only the Moi family that should hand over the regalia. "How do you return what was given to Moi in absence of his children? And it should not be said that it is the Nandi elders who adorned Mzee Moi, it was the Kalenjin elders; hence everyone ought to have been involved and the ceremony made public," said Mr Keitany.

"The manner in which this ceremony was conducted is clear that the team, which was in charge, has already identified a person they want to install as the community's spokesperson following the exit of Mzee Moi, and we will not allow them to go that way," he added.

Leadership paraphernalia

Contacted by the Nation, the Moi family led by Raymond Moi (Rongai MP) said the Tugen elders did not consult with them when returning the leadership paraphernalia.

The regalia that was returned include Sambut, Rungut, Nogirwet, Korokto, Sharit and Kutwet.

Sambut is a shield with a leopard skin, Rungut is a club, Nogirwet is a leadership stick while Sharit is an ordinary stick, Ngecheret is a three-legged stool, Kipkaliangit is a fly whisk and Kutwet is a monkey skin hat.

The Tugen Council of Elders led by Reverend Wilson Kibet Sambu said even though Senator Moi is a Tugen, the sub-tribe's elders could not pass the same leadership mantle that his father was given because the instruments came from Nandi elders; hence they had to be returned.

Nandi Kaburwo Council of Elders Secretary-General David Sing'oei and the council's Regional Coordinator John Yego exonerated both the Nandi and Tugen elders from blame for performing the secretive cultural rite, saying there is no cause for alarm since no one has been installed as the region's kingpin.

Mr Benjamin Kitur, who doubles as the chairman of Myoot-Kalenjin Elders and Nandi Kaburow, said he will be holding the council's meeting soon to start the process of identifying the community's kingpin, adding that they will not be influenced by politicians.

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