The supremacy battle between Deputy William Ruto and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi took a new twist when the latter was made the Rift Valley kingpin by a splinter group of the Talai Council of Elders yesterday.
The elders gave Mr Moi a leadership baton and covered him with traditional regalia known as Sambut, similar to the one given to his father Daniel Toroitich arap Moi and former minister Nicholas Biwott.
The Kanu leader held a meeting with the elders at an undisclosed location in West Pokot county where he was given permission to contest the country’s presidency.
Daniel arap Moi was Kenya’s president from 1978 to 2002.
The senator reportedly arrived at the venue in the company of Kanu Secretary-General Nick Salat, former Cabinet minister Musa Sirma and former Kenyan ambassador to Australia Stephen Tarus at 5am and left shortly after 8am.
According to the Talai Elders Council faction vice-chairman Christopher Koyogi, who led the ceremony, Mr Moi was adorned with the sacred leadership regalia of Sambut, Kuutwet, Nogirgwet, Sharit and Rungut “and this makes him the spokesman of the Kalenjin nation”.
Sambut is a shield made from a lion’s skin, Rungut is a club, Nogirwet is a leadership stick while Sharit is an ordinary stick. Ngecheret is a three-legged stool, Kipkaliangit a fly whisk and Kutwet is a hat-like item made from monkey skin.
Mr Koyogi said the coronation of Dr Ruto early this week is null and void.
“Finally we have crowned Senator Gideon Moi as our leader just like his father. We have blessed him the same way we blessed President Uhuru Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga. What the likes of Reverend James Bassy did does not conform with our culture,” said Mr Koyogi, who was assisted in the ceremony by Mr Joel Rono, the Talai-Kapturgat chairman.
“Because we did not want to antagonise those opposed to the right procedure and are out to tarnish the clan’s reputation by engaging in crass commercialisation, we performed the rituals somewhere in West Pokot.”
The Kapturgat accuses Myoot Kalenjin Council of Elders chairman James Bassy, who crowned DP in a dawn ceremony at his home, of having betrayed the clan from the early 1990s.
The push and pull between the sub-clans of the Talai played out when Mr Moi was blocked by rowdy youths as he was heading to Mr Koyogi’s home in Kapsisiywa, Nandi county several weeks ago.
Mr Moi arrived early in the morning, only to find the roads leading to his destination blocked.
Mr Koyogi was was removed as the Talai Council of Elders months ago.
The youths, said to be supporters of Dr Ruto, used tyres, logs and debris to block the road in Kimondi.
They accused Senator Moi and Mr Koyogi of going against the ways of the clan.
“The coronation of Ruto was not within the norms of our clan. It does not hold water. We crowned the younger Moi our leader because of the leadership record set by his father,”Mr Koyogi told the Saturday Nation.
The Talai clan is found in Nandi, Kericho, Bomet and Trans Nzoia counties.
The Talai, who are the descendants of Nandi legendary leader Koitalel arap Samoei and his son Barsirian arap Manyei – the country’s longest serving prisoner during the colonial era – are divided into five sub-clans; Kapturgat, Kapsonet, Kapsogon, Kapmursoi and Kapchesang.
The death former President Daniel Moi reshaped the political landscape in the Rift Valley.
Since 1955 when he became MP to 2002 when he left the presidency and during his 18 years in retirement, Mr Moi was viewed as the political kingpin of the vast region.
His exit opened a new political door for Senator Moi to prove to the region that he could stand on his own.
The dawn ceremony has not been received well by the Rev Bassy group.
The elders termed the coronation of Mr Moi as an act of “political desperation and conmanship, which is based on business”, adding that it against the norms of the clan.
The council chairman who led the coronation of Dr Ruto accused the splinter group for misusing the clan’s “special gift”.
He said Mr Koyogi’s group is greedy for money and other resources.
Rev Bassy defended Dr Ruto’s coronation, arguing that it was supported by the sub-clans of the Talai.
“What happened today was led by elders who are known for their appetite for money. It does not water down Dr Ruto’s coronation,” he said.