The Kalenjin tribe is said belongs to Nilotic ethnic group called highland Nilotes, and which consists of several sub-tribes spread throughout East Africa, As Boyot Arap Keles narrates.
Those found in Kenya are; the Kipsigis, Nandi, Keiyo, Marakwet, Sabaot/Kony, Pokot/Suk, Terik, Ogiek/Dorobo, Tugen (Samor, Eldorais, Lembus, Pokor, Keben and Arror) and Sengwer/Cherangany.
In Tanzania, the Kalenjin consists of; Barabaek, Tatireek, Hilbangrangaek, Sonjoek, Sirikwaek (Sindawi), Nataeek, Badyut and Tatogaeek.
In Sudan are, they are related with Morule among others, while in Uganda there are Sebei or Kipsabiny among others.Tribal historian’s claim the word, or term ‘Kalenjin’ was coined by earlier scholars of the tribe during 1940s probably at Alliance High school.
This is because all the sub tribes of Kalenjin always utter the word ‘Kaleeii’ meaning ‘I say or l say to you’, before uttering or saying any word.
Thus the word ‘kaleeii’ is common to all of the sub-tribes hence Kalenjin collectively.
Earlier the colonialist used to refer to all Kalenjin as Nandis, thus actually all Kalenjin collectively resisted colonial rule in their land.
Led by their legendary Koitalel arap Samoei in Nandi, Kipchomber arap Koilegen alias Kiptoingeny Kochichlem, kibuigut arap Singoe and Kipkirui arap Boisio in Kipsigis land, the Kalenjin resisted colonial rule.
All were sons of legendary Kipnyole arap Turugat alias Simbole. Samoei , Kipnyole last born was finally assassinated by colonialists while others first born Kipchomber arap Koilegen and other brothers were finally deported to Maragwa, and his kinsmen later deported to Gwasi, and to an area which is heavily infested with tsetsefly in Lambwe valley for incarceration.
The original name of Kalenjin is ‘miot’, meaning lovers of honey and milk since they are their preferred meal.
The Kalenjin myth claims that they are the miot lagokab lote (miot children of Lote). Miot could also refers to Moabites in Bible which is an indication that they may have come across each other and intermarry at a place called Goshen.
The current Kalenjin council of elders is called Miot because of the inclination or link mentioned above.The Old Testament in the Bible shows very closely related cultural practices of Jews and Kalenjin.
It shows that they have a common ancestry. When Jesus Christ was born, King Herod instructed the wise men to determine when Jesus was born using stars.
In Kalenjin, there exist wise men too with special instinct abilities who can read stars, for example the sections/clans of Koromerik and Kipsomoguk who can tell various events by ‘reading’ of intestines of slaughtered goats to determine the situations.
The Kalenjin were monotheist or worshippers of one Supreme Being. This made it easier for them to accept the Christian message.
The Supreme Being was called Asis, which has many attributes; Cheptalel (the controller of all things), or Cheptalil i.e one which glitters meaning purity, Chebonomi (giver of life),
Chepokipkoyo (God the protector), Chepomirchiio (God who over sees armed forces), Chepkeelyen Sogol (the Omnipresence God), Chemalus (God knows all), and Chepokimabai (God the controller of all harvest).
Other attributes are; Weriit neo (God is important of all and has feelings), Cheboo (God is great), Chepwooboit (God the great worker),
Chepkochor (God is everlasting), Tororot (God is the most high) – just like in Bible where we have attributes like; Adonai, Jiren, Nissi, Shalom, Shammah, Tsidkenu, Elshadai, Elohe among others meaning Jehovah.
Kipkoech arap Sambu, in his Egyptology book has found that Kalenjin share words with natives of Egypt (Kemet), native Egyptians refer to God as Ptah, where as Kalenjin called Him Kiptayat and both referred the sun to Asista.
Most Kalenjin myths claim they originated from Tot or Burgei (warm place) from the North which is probably Egypt (Kemet).
This is why when Kalenjin are making blessings they always utter words such as burgei kole burgei signifying their originality.
According to legends, the Kalenjin came from Tot probably Dwo in Egypt (Kemet). The ancestors of Kalenjin were Tapnai and Kingo who had the following Sons; Cherang Muukwo, Kipsirikwo, Kipongom and others from several wives.
When Kingo was about to die as a result of old age, his eldest son Olchiangwal inherited his younger wife and named her Kiindi (one who inherits), and later gave her a shortened name; Nandi.
His other son moved to different fertile territory, became prolific and this is the Kipsigis (ki-po-sigis) – i.e ‘one who gave birth to many children’.Another version of the myth was that, while the sons were tending cows, one found the vessel called kiisiet (traditional bowl of ugali) – he was then referred by others as Kipsich kisiet i.e ‘one who found kiiset’ and later named Kipsigisiek.
One of the sons went on a safari but disappeared and never came back, they waited for him in vain but kept on to faith and later said; kigeni (We are still waiting) and his generation because of that event became the Tugen sub tribe.
Another son went far fields to follow livestock but never came back and his generation was referred to Kei-yoo, meaning mother is milking cows in the fields and thus later named Keiyo.Other son is believed to have demanded for kwesta (Ram) and was called ‘mach kwesta’ (lover of rams) and later his generation became the Marakwet.
The other son was banished for misconduct and he disappeared from home, he was later thought to be dead but the mother kept on saying sobei (still alive), and thus his generation became the Sebei of Uganda.
Another son, again, remained at kingo’s homestead these; were Koony and Pokot. Pokot means Pokoot i.e ‘the owner of the house’ and Koony means ‘our home’ this gave rise to Pokot generation.
There are ancient songs and myths which show that Kalenjin and Jews might have encountered each other.
For example okwasien wee beechu asi agonok sonoiyat ne leel ak ne tui, meaning ‘please water, may you be clear so that I can give you white and black beads’.
That statement is almost related to rituals done by Moses during the crossing of Red sea by Israelites.
The Kalenjin song; ‘Ndama riretab musaya’ could be the attribute of the role of Mosses to the children of Israel when they were crossing sea.
The tribes’ traditional huts resemble Egyptian pyramids and totems of clans are used by both Egyptians and Jews showing that they have common phylogeny or ancestry.Israel is derived from two deities Isis (Asis) and Ra and El – the semitic deity. The Kalenjin say that in their migratory journey in a wild far country, they were pursued by an enemy.
One elder upon a lake they could not cross intoned four times – Beekab kamama yas ole yas (waters of maternal uncles part, say part), and the water parted.
On reaching the other side of the river, the same elder intoned again four times – Beekab kamama king, ole king (waters of maternal uncles meet, say meet) and the water met killing the enemy who was following them instantly.
However, the Kalenjin still remember the elder who intoned musaika as they sang a song called ndomo rireetab musaika kotomokimi emoni – a song sung after women have been circumcised.
The entire Kalenjin sometimes call each other Bikab kutit (people of mouth). This is because when missionaries came earlier they noticed that most members of this tribe had good white teeth (good teeth – kutit).
Thus Kalenjin then started calling themselves bikab kutit (people with good teeth as they are fond of taking milk which have calcium for proper teeth formation.
Mouth (space between the jaws) is actually called Ngesemta or moromet.The Kalenjin entirely were ruled and governed by council of elders where the Oorkoiyot was the chief medicine man, religious leader and guide to the community when undertaking anything; whether planting or raiding other communities.
The Oorkoiyot was both the person and the highest office on land. The Oorkoik (workoiik) were royal people who lead Kalenjin people in olden times.
Oorkoi means ‘this house of big or intelligent people’. The Hellenic Greeks called them Arkhont.
Oo (big), Koi (house or stone) hence workoii (Oorkoi) means these people are from the house of leaders (rocks).
Amazingly woorkoik were given “Rock” names like Jewish prophets, Koitalel (white rock), Koilegen (spotted rock) Kobogoi, Koitabai (rock of grinding millet).
And in the Bible we have Peter the Rock (Cephas) and Rock of Ages, what a great connection!The Bedouins of Israel have an uncanny ability they are known for as the best desert trackers in the world.
They are able to find traces of people or animals on the surface of the sand; tell whether the animal was running or whether a man or woman and was carrying equipment.This very special skill has made Bedouins very valuable to the Israeli army, especially for guarding the borders.
They are among those few Israel Arabs who can volunteer to serve in army and are always called upon to track down enemy troops who have broken through Israel’s border defenses.
The Bedouins, like some Kalenjins, pride themselves on their capacity in hospitality and concern for people.
However, their code of conduct does not see habit of raiding other tribes’ livestock as something that is wrong.
The Kalenjin participated greatly in British army during the Second World War and there are a lot of claims that it was their involvement which lead to the end of the war.The reasons why Kalenjin migration from Egypt is said by historians to have been; search for greener pastures, running away from drought, hostile neighbouring communities, disease outbreaks, enslavement and to fulfill myths of their forefathers.
They also migrated to move away from powerful invaders they called kipyayamungen – white enemies.The Kalenjin during pre-colonial period had a well organized social, economic and political organization with well structured central government.
Their religious system was also well organized. They practiced strict religion which in turn led to a well rounded people in all aspects of mind, body and spirit.Kalenjin, since time immemorial from Egypt, has demonstrated to be serious leaders and it is believed that several Egyptian pharaohs were actually Kalenjin.
In modern Africa, Kalenjin tribe has produced several political leaders including former President Daniel Toroitich Kapkorios Arap Moi, who ruled Kenya for 24 years.
Early historians also believe that the founding president of Kenya, the late President Kenyatta had roots and links to Kalenjin ancestry.
Professor Yusuf Lule (Sebei) of Uganda ruled Uganda for one month as president.
Kenya is known internationally because of its unique athletes who have dominated the track for couple of decades because of their outstanding records.
Majority of the athletes who have represented Kenya locally and abroad in international meets are from Kalenjin land.
The Ethiopian Oromos too are claimed to be splinter group of Kalenjin while they were dispersing from Egypt, and that is why they are also good athletes.
Oromo are said to be a splinter tribe from Kalenjin who were referred as bik che koromen – forceful people or people with strong forces.
The children’s songs and riddles which were used to prophesy future events and which have came to pass for example, Chepkongo teme ano tinget ,ame ano tuga sung in 1940s predicted the current event of land scarcity as a result of population explosion.
Teretab kogo chemagirgir tondet,kigome anan tomi, kigome was sung by children in early 1930s, according to historians, when the traditional pot was used for cooking which takes a lot of time to cook food.
The children, at the time, are said to have predicted the use of modern sufurias which take very much shorter time because of their good heat conductivity since they are made of aluminum.
The riddle Telelen kiptiltilyet iitit asi kogur chemunai nemi oi for example, was used by children in 1950s in reference to current phones for communications.
Past Kalenjin prophets, notably, Kimondit arap Mugeni, Boiyot Kiptormesendet of Chemagel Sotik, prophesied a lot which actually came to be very true just like the Biblical prophets.