What you need to know:
- It is said Mr Moi arrived between 4am and 6am only to find all roads to his destination blocked.
- A rowdy group, said to be supporters of DP Ruto, used tyres, logs and debris to block Chepterit-Baraton-Sang'alo Road at Kimondi.
The Talai clan’s ‘special gift’ of bestowing the Kalenjin community’s political kingpin has emerged as the new battlefront between Deputy President William Ruto and his political foe Baringo Senator Gideon Moi for the control of the vote-rich Rift Valley.
This has cascaded to the Talai Council of Elders, which has been behind the crowning of the country’s top leadership, including all four presidents.
The Talai clan found in Kapsisiywa in Nandi, Kericho, Bomet and Trans-Nzoia counties are split on how the cultural practice should be performed and the emerging political and personal interests among the members.
The Talai, who are the descendants of Nandi legendary leader Koitalel Samoei and his honoured son Barsirian arap Manyei, the country’s longest serving prisoner during the colonial era, are divided into five sub-clans namely Kapturgat, Kapsonet, Kapsogon, Kapmursoi and Kapchesang.
The Kapturgat clan whose embattled Talai Council of Elders’ vice-chairman Christopher Koyogi was kicked out for causing disunity and opposing the coronation of DP Ruto as the Kalenjin political kingpin claimed to possess spiritual powers to perform the ceremony.
The Kapturgat accuse the current council chairman retired Anglican cleric James Bassy, who crowned DP in a dawn ceremony at his home, of betraying the clan.
The push and pull between the sub-clans of the Talai played out when the younger Moi was blocked by the rowdy youths in the wee hours of Saturday while heading for Mr Koyogi’s home in Kapsisiywa.
Mr Koyogi told the Sunday Nation that there is no way the coronation of Dr Ruto would be recognised by the group he is leading when those who performed the ritual do not have the “powers”.
“They colluded with the colonial government to jail arap Manyei and that betrayal blood still exists and that is why we cannot recognise any kind of coronation carried out by him,” said Mr Koyogi told the Sunday Nation at Kenmosa village, Uasin Gishu County.
The splinter group of the Talai Elders under the stewardship of Mr Koyogi say that they will not relent until they crown Senator Moi as the community’s political kingpin, arguing what happened in 2020 at Mr Bassy’s home was null.
“The coronation of DP Ruto was not within the norms of our clan hence it does not hold water. We shall crown the younger Moi because of the record set by his late father Daniel Toroitich arap Moi in terms of leadership,” he said.
Talai elders leaning towards the Baringo Senator criticised the DP of trying to force himself as the region’s political spokesperson warning that they are ready to pay the ultimate price as long as the right thing is done.
“Koyogi had welcomed us for a New Year feast at his home and Senator Moi was to visit us on Saturday morning, it is unfortunate that some people decided to buy youths to disrupt his visit but this kind of act will not hinder our plans,” said Joel Rono, chairperson of Talai-Kapturgat.
It is said Mr Moi arrived between 4am and 6am only to find all roads to his destination blocked. A rowdy group, said to be supporters of DP Ruto, used tyres, logs and debris to block Chepterit-Baraton-Sang'alo Road at Kimondi.
They accused Senator Moi and Mr Koyogi of going against the traditional ways of the Talai clan, pertaining to the coronation of leaders.
Some of the people admitted that they derailed Mr Moi's attempt to access Mr Koyogi's home, which is next to Kapsisiywa Primary School.
"On Friday at around 8pm-9pm, we received information that someone senior was coming to visit us. Later on, by the blessings of our elders, we realised it was Senator Moi, who was coming for a coronation ceremony. We made plans to block him," said William Serem, one of the youth.
"His convoy made an attempt [to continue with the journey] at around 5am, using Kabiyet Sang'alo Road, but we had barricaded it. We cannot allow another ceremony to take place," said Lenix Rono.
Others wondered why the politician decided to visit the Talai clan without being accompanied by local leaders such as Nandi Governor Stephen Sang.
The youth demanded that Mr Moi declare his stand on Dr Ruto's bid for the presidency.
It is said senior political leaders and a government official from the county played a key role in thwarting Mr Moi’s visit to Kapsisiywa by facilitating the youth in blocking him.
Senator Moi is said to have pleaded with them in vain.
The elders who performed the coronation of the DP in 2020, led by Mr Bassy, dismissed claims by Mr Koyogi’s group, arguing that he is the one who has commercialised the clan’s gift.
Mr Bassy told the Sunday Nation at Kimondi that when they heard that Mr Koyogi and some few elders were planning to bless Mr Moi, they mobilised youth to block all the roads leading to the destination because according to their culture, such ceremonies cannot take place twice.
“There is no way we could accept such an event to take place, the clan had blessed DP Ruto and no other one will take place,” he said.“Koyogi and the team are known for going against the clan’s will ever since, we cannot allow him to do business with our gift.”
They accused the group led by Mr Koyogi for indulging in political sycophancy rather than adhering to the cultural protocols of the clan arguing that their 'blessings' have nothing to do with political sideshows.
"It is very unfortunate that one member has decided to mislead the whole country for his personal interests, however, this is not the first time he is going against the council's decision, we know he wanted to another leader to be crowned instead of DP Ruto," said Amos Korir, another elder.
Frederick Songol, a Nandi elder, said that it is not possible for Senator Moi to be crowned as the community's spokesperson and the one being succeeded was his father.
He added that even though the leadership regalia which was given to Mzee Moi cannot be returned to the elders, it is not a sign that the Kanu chairman was going to inherit the title automatically.
"In our plans, we have never floated the name of younger Moi to be our political kingpin, it is not a family thing like the one we have seen in Luoland, yes the Sambuut given to the late Moi cannot be returned to us according to our traditions but when the children decide to divide it among themselves, it does not mean that they can be the community's spokesperson," Mr Songol said.
But questions continued to emerge on who is right on the 'coronation' of a political kingpin of the Kalenjin community after Mr Bassy and his embattled vice-chairman Mr Koyogi differed on the manner the event should be organised.
Koitalel Samoei’s son Barsirian arap Manyei is said to have crowned the country’s founding father Jomo Kenyatta with the traditional leadership regalia – Sambuut.
Other Heads of State including the late President Daniel Toroitich arap Moi, retired President Mwai Kibaki and President Uhuru Kenyatta have received the blessings and crowning by this minority clan in Nandi.
It is so important that other leaders including ODM boss Raila Odinga and DP Ruto have sought blessings from the clan placing them in national limelight in politics and cultural orientations.
“Most leaders respect our coronation cultural rite because those who have been crowned before have always succeeded afterwards in their endeavours,” said David Saina, a member of the council from Kericho.
However, political and personal interests seem to cause deep splits among the members. The clan has played a key role in every electioneering period where those seeking the country’s top seat make public and secret visits to the Kapsisiywa village to bolster their chances of winning but just like other Council of Elders in other communities in the country including Nyanza, Central and Coast regions, dissenting voices have continued to reign casting doubts on their ability to continue with such leadership blessings.
The late Moi introduced DP when he was admitted into the ranks of YK '92 at 25 for contributing into his shrewdness and impeccable oratory skills.
Senator Moi’s office condemned the act of blocking him from accessing Kapsisiywa terming it an act of cowardice.
"We view this as an act of cowardice by well-known political detractors whose main pre-occupation has always been desperate attempts to curtail the ever growing influence of other leaders in the region and to suppress the democratic space for their own selfish interest,” reads the statement sent to the newsroom.
Kanu secretary-general Nick Salat in an interview with the Sunday Nation said the DP was using elders to push what he termed as 'unfounded claims' of the cultural rite of returning the leadership regalia.
"One is using unfounded claims of return of leadership instruments, it was the family to give back but there was no such ceremony for the instruments to be handed to anybody," said Mr Salat.