Ntimama heirs struggle to fit in patriarch’s big political boots

Former cabinet minister William ole Ntimama speaks to a reporter during an interview at his home in Nairobi on July 28, 2016. 

Photo credit: Martin Mukangu | Nation Media Group

He was charismatic, eloquent and fierce, and commanded immense respect in Maa-speaking communities and in the rest of Kenya.

The late long-serving Narok North MP William Ntimama left a huge political gap in the pastoral communities of Narok, Samburu, Laikipia and even Baringo.

Since his demise in 2016 and even before then, the political heirs apparent in Narok that he tried to nurture have been unsuccessful in their efforts to keep the dynasty going.    

Late William ole Ntimama son Mr Tempes Ntimama

Photo credit: Ole Ntimama Children

In 2013, his daughter Lydiah Naneu Ntimama made her debut in elective politics when she vied for the woman rep seat under ODM but she was trounced by Jubilee’s Ms Soipan Tuya.

It was the same year that Mzee Ntimama, having served four straight terms, was beaten by the little-known lawyer Moitalel ole Kenta, the current area MP.

When Mzee Ntimama went to State House to meet President Uhuru Kenyatta a few weeks before he died on September 1, 2016, he was with Ms Naneu, among others.

In 2017, Ms Naneu went against her father's wish and left Jubilee, after she was allegedly ‘coerced’ into dropping her woman rep bid and instead vie for her father's former seat in Narok North constituency.

But she ended up making her second stab at the woman rep seat, this time under former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto’s Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM), but she finished a distant third in a race won by Ms Tuya.

Ms Tuya received 122,907 votes against her close rival Rebecca Tonkei’s (ODM) 78,576, while Ms Naneu garnered 44,000, raising concerns about the future of the Ntimama dynasty in Narok.

Mzee Ntimama seems to have chosen Ms Naneu to carry on the family’s political mantle but it has not materialized, thanks to the changing political environment in the county.

Ms Naneu, a charming firebrand politician popularly known as Entito Orkingi (King’s Daughter), is the most outspoken and well-known of Mzee Ntimama’s children.

Ms Naneu is once again seeking the woman rep seat, this time under ODM, and it remains to be seen whether she will live up to her father’s expectations.

Her elder brother Tempes Ntimama’s first attempt at politics flopped after he was beaten in recent ODM primaries in Narok North, finishing a distant third.

Mr Tempes accepted the outcome of the ODM nominations and vowed to remain in the party, but he appealed party leader Raila Odinga, who was his father’s close ally, to remember the family if he is elected President.

“I may not have agreed with the ODM results but I will stay put in the party. I will wait until next time when God will allow it. We are in Azimio to stay,” said Mr Tempes.

Late William ole Ntimama daughte Ms Lydiah Ntimama.

Photo credit: Robert Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

He told the Nation that his father was one of the founding members of ODM, adding that the Ntimama family was still committed to serving the Maasai people like their father before them.

According to Mr Maranka ole Otuni, the Narok North ODM chair, they will not allow the Ntimama dynasty to ‘die’ and asked Mr Odinga to consider appointing one of the patriarch’s children to leadership.

“The late Mzee Ntimama was an ODM diehard and Mr Odinga should consider nominating one of his children to Parliament because we believe that his lineage was blessed with leadership,” Mr Otuni added.

In 2017, Mr Tempes vowed to support his elder sister Ms Naneu as that was the family’s agreement.

President Kenyatta, in a gazette notice dated June 22, 2018, appointed Mzee Ntimama’s eldest son Amos Sipoi Ntimama as NGO Coordination Board chairman. He was to serve for three years.

In 2016, the President had appointed him to chair the Private Security Regulatory Authority, replacing former intelligence chief Michael Gichangi.

Mzee Ntimama’s youngest daughter Vivian, who was his father’s property administrator, died earlier this year in what was described as a heart attack. She was an officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs until her demise.

Ms Naneu’s bid for the woman rep seat in the August 9 elections received a boost after she was appointed by President Kenyatta as a member of the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) Board.

She is also credited for lobbying for the renaming of the Narok stadium to William ole Ntimama Stadium in recognition of her father’s campaign for the land and political rights of the Maasai community.

Her efforts were rewarded last year when Sports and Culture CS Amina Mohamed officially renamed the stadium, though the name has not been emblazoned on the arena.

To keep Mzee Ntimama’s name alive, the family built a mausoleum at his Motony home, on the outskirts of Narok town, to showcase his achievements.

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