Kenya glossary


(KENYA 11)








Retired primary school teacher




November 1996



Section 1
When did you go to school?
I went to school in 1948.

How did people feel about education that time in the community?
During that time, people simply would be forced to go to school. Our parents never wanted to take their children to school although we never used to pay any fees at school. However occasionally, we would be called upon to pay very little money like Kshs.2.50. At school we never had books but we used to write on the slates using some stones that looked like pieces of chalk. As for me, I started going to school in 1948 in a school called Muji that is found at the present Webuye (old name Kiribotiet) During that time, the population was very low in Webuye-the majority being the Sabaot with very few Bukusu. We were living at a place called Maraka just near the present town when I started class one. Our village headman was known as Tito.

You've just mentioned that they used to force people to go to school. Who used to force you to go to school?
There used to be elders in the village who were charged with the task of forcing school age children to go to school. They are the ones that forced me to go to school.

Did they also force their own children?
They started by forcing their own children to go to school.

How did you feel when you were finally forced to go to school?
I had an advantage because I personally liked school. My parents never liked my going to school especially my father. He used to see this as a waste of time.

You mentioned that you liked school. Can you explain why this was the case?
I was aware that if one goes to school he will be taught how to write and after this one would be able to read in school. And my main wish was to know how to read and write and hence the reason why I liked school.

Had you seen other people who had gone to school whom you are perhaps trying to emulate?
If I should take you back a little bit, you know that I was not born in an area where I told you I went to school. I was born in Transzoia district. In 1939 and 1940, there was my brother who had gone to school in the present Kitale Academy by then it used to be called Kitale Club. Now they had gone to school and they had been taught about beads. In 1944 when we were forced to move out of Transnzoia by the white settlers, we moved to Webuye and at this time, I was seeing that my brother could read and write and this made me like school because I wanted to be like him.
Section 2
Now would you say that those people who went to school were generally leading a better life owing to their going to school or they knew things you also wished to know?
They knew things I also wished to know especially how to read and write, and more so they could speak English like the white man. They could communicate easily with people who were non-Sabaot and this was something I also wanted to do.

Who were your teachers and where did they come from?
My first teacher was a Luhyia from Kakamega. When I moved from my first school in 1951 when I was in class 3, my parents moved to a place called Bokoli in Bungoma district. At Bokoli, my teachers were Bukusu and I was the only Sabaot child in the school. There were no Sabaot teachers in my school because it is the Luhyia who first encountered religion and many of them went to school earlier than the Sabaot. This time I was going to a school called Maanga.

You went to school up to what level?
I finished class 4 in 1952 and excelled in the Common Entrance Examination. After this, I was selected to join a school called Shamberere in Kakamega - a boarding school. The fees charged was Kshs.225. My father was unable to raise the fees but I can not say that he was unable because Bukusu teachers who were teaching struck out my name because I was a Sabaot and replaced it with that of a Bukusu pupil who hadn't performed as well as I had. I was finally told that I had not been qualified to proceed. But after about one month when the intake had been closed, they told me that I qualified to proceed and I should therefore wait for another school to select me. The school they were mentioning to me that time was Chesamis, which was then beginning to admit primary 5 pupils. When I saw that the first term was nearly ending before I had enrolled in primary 5 which was just beginning, we were taught for just a few months and then for unknown reasons, that school was dissolved.
I moved from here and then went to Uganda to a place called Bumbo. I again enrolled in Class 5 but after some time I realised that teaching in Bumbo was not good. In 1953, I moved back to Kenya and in 1954, I enrolled in class 6 at Kapsokwony primary school. Kapsokwony Primary was by then sponsored by the Seventh Day Adventist. But something you should know is that during that time, parents were interested in taking their children to school. But in 1954, because my father was living with the Luhya, he had been socialised into liking education and he had realised that education might be beneficial to his children in future. I studied here in Kapsokwony up to the end of class 7 in Chesamis Primary School. But at this time, my parents were unable to raise the fees they were charging Kshs. 225 in the boarding section. During this time, my father was living in Teso region.
I sent my cousin who was a teacher at Kimobo Primary School to my father. When he reached home, my father sold a bull and gave him the money to bring to me. He came with the money but reaching here he told me that my father refused to sell a bull for my fees. I realised that he never wanted me to go to school beyond that level he had reached. I later went home personally to enquire from my father what was happening. It is then that I was informed that my cousin had been given the money to bring me but he had refused to give it to me.
Second term had now come and finally I decided to stay at home. There was a neighbouring school called Chairos. A class leaver was at that time considered a learned person and could even be employed as a teacher whose salary would come directly from the parents. I taught class 4 because they had not teacher for that class and at that time there was still this Common Entrance Examination. I taught that class of 26 pupils and at the end of the year, the pupils excelled in their exam. Nearly all of them excelled! At this time my parents again migrated back to Bokoli. At this time, I also decided that it would be good for me to proceed with my education. I went to class 7 in Bokoli Primary School and proceeded to class 8 and sat for KAPE (Kenya African Preliminary Exam). I excelled but I could not join Kamusinga High School because of discrimination as a Sabaot. All this happened in 1958 and some of my colleagues with the same points as mine went to Kamusinga. During this year, I decided to go to Uganda where I enrolled in form one in a private school called Seda College.
Section 3
You talk of going to Uganda and back. Please can you tell us how you were able to do this?
I used to have Bukusu friends who used to assist me. Some of them were already studying there. I went with them and it was them who helped me enrol in Seda College. At this time, my father had come to acknowledge the value of education because the Bukusu had told him that education might help your children in future. He was able to raise my fees of Kshs.280 per year because this was a day school and together with my friends we had rented a house where we paid Kshs.10 per term. I continue with my studies in Seda College in 1958 and in 1959, I went to Bukwo when the late Daniel Moss and Chemonges had started a school at Bukwo (this is still in Uganda). This school was called Border College and it was here that I enrolled in form 2. Towards the end of form 2, my parents were again unable to raise fees and I was compelled to come back home to Kenya.
In 1960, I went back to Seda College and my father paid my fees. Here I went back to form two. In 1961, I completed form 3 studies and went to form 4 in 1962. But this time, if one was from a private school like mine, you did not sit for form exam right away but you had to be subjected to a qualifying test from Oxford London. What one sat for was an English paper that had five parts: letter writing, grammar, composition, comprehension and 'pressing in'. Pass mark was 75% and I personally did not qualify. I came back home and we were still living in Bokoli. At this time, my young brother was also in class 5 and I didn't want to compete with him on the scarce family resources hence I decided not to continue with my education. In 1962, I started teaching a nursery school and in third term of 1962, there was an opening in a college that was in Kabianga (Kericho). I applied and in December I was invited for an interview. They only wanted 25 people when applicants were 181 and I was number 181. I met a white man called Mr Browns who was the principal. He gave me any oral interview and after that informed me that if you are lucky, you'll be selected but if you're not selected don't blame me for many people have already sat for the interviews.
I went back home and stayed till January 1963 when I received a letter of offer inviting me to join Kabianga Teachers College to pursue a P2 course. I was asked to report on 4th February 1963. My father sold a bull and I was able to report on time and completed my course in 1964. In 1965, I was posted to my first school (Kimobo Primary). In 1966, I was transferred to Kapneru Primary, 1967 I was transferred to Kamusinga Primary. I n 1972, I was transferred to Masaek Primary. In 1973, I was transferred to Chepkoya Primary School. I taught in this school up to 1978 when I was transferred to Kongit Primary. I was here until 1991 when I retired.
Section 4
Now in your long career as a teacher, who are some of the most important students?
I've had so many - most of them are respected teachers like Nahashon Chepkurui. Some are even graduates who are specialised in different fields.

Are you able to compare the number of Sabaot who used to go to school with you and those going to school now?
During my time, we had very few Sabaot going to school and this is because the Sabaot saw no value of taking their children to school when they already had a lot of livestock. When it came to marriage, they had a lot of livestock for dowry. And an individual could effectively take care of himself with the livestock. Sabaot as you may know were not interested in farming. They were mostly pastoralists.

I wonder why Sabaot didn't see any value in education yet I expect the few who had been able to go to school to act as role models for the general society?
People that time looked at success in terms of the number of livestock one owned. And this time you should be aware that one did not require education to command a big herd of cattle! In fact those who had gone to school had depleted their herds. Therefore ownership of livestock to Sabaot was equivalent to ownership of everything that mattered in the life of a Sabaot.

You are among the first Sabaot to go to school. How were you viewed by the general community?
When I was in school my father was warned against wasting his livestock to pay my fees. Many people were not happy with my going to school and they saw me as punishing my parents. Very few applauded the efforts of my father to raise my fees. Even the time I had just completed class 8, my father was advised not to sell any more of the livestock because he was told that I'll still come back and demand more livestock for dowry. But my father stood firm and never listened to them because he had Bukusu friends who advised him on the value of education.

How were you looked at by your peers who had not gone to school?
I was discriminated against and was not even welcome in their discussion. Some were already married when I was still in school. But I wasn't bothered with their hostility and did not admire their lifestyle of parties through and through. It is important to note that most of the people I went to school with were non-Sabaot.
Section 5
What can you say are the changes that have taken place in the development of education in this area from say 1950 to the present day?
Right now the population has increased and there is no space for keeping large herds. This has made it imperative for many people to go to school so that they are able to gain employment. Many schools at the moment have been put up although they are still inadequate but still if you can compare with the past, we are better off now. Right now, a great number of pupils can have access to text books in schools while in our time we could only hang on every word that came from the teacher. Right now, you can find teachers only directing pupils on the books to read and the topics. At the moment, the Sabaot have also sent most of their children to school and most of the teachers around are now our own children and parents are also enlightened on education. Right now, the Sabaot can stand up and say that we've some how developed on education because earlier the only good primary school around was Kapsokwony. Now we have so many. There was no secondary school around apart from Kamusinga High School. But right now apart from Kamusinga there is Chesamis nearly there is Kapsokwony, Kaptama, Kmobo, Kibuk, Cheptais and many other secondary schools in the region. Many changes have generally come in.

What can you say has influenced the changes that have come in?
Positive changes are due to the fact that people are now settled permanently and have forgotten about the nomadic life of pastoralists. People are now stable. It is also important to point that Sabaot have been squeezed on a mountain strip because they were a settled people. They loved cattle and loved migrating from one place to another. Right now the Sabaot have also discovered that the power of the pen is mightier than a herd of cattle.

Can we say that any external forces are responsible for the expansion of education in Sabaot land or is the expansion home-grown?
I personally believe that what we're seeing now has nothing to do with external forces. It is the enlightenment of the Sabaot that has driven them to embrace education whole-heartedly.

What would you say is development for the Sabaot?
Sabaot right now see education as an important component of development. For example, we were granted a district of our own the other day but we don't have enough educated people to take up positions of responsibility. For the District Education Officer here is a Kisii yet we would have done better with our own son as an education officer. Looking at the general administration in spite of having a few administration of our own, they are still very few. Like here we would be having a Sabaot DC if it were possible.

Now when Sabaot say that they want development in our area, what exactly do they mean?
The most important thing they would like to see when saying this is that adequate schools are constructed. Secondly they want to see their children excel in education and be employed as teachers, officers in offices so that we go to offices we can also afford to speak Kisabaot language. For example if you go to offices in Bungoma, Bukusu language is spoken all over and over and they give a non-Bukusu the last priority in term of attention. Sabaot also want good roads constructed for them because these days we are farmers but we've no roads for taking our produce to markets. Take for instance Chepkoya village (where he lives)-there is no road. Here in Mount Elgon also we even don't have a single tarmacked road from here to Cheptais. Our roads are not even murramed (metalled)! Therefore people would be happy if development in terms of roads was brought in.
Development of markets is another aspect of development. The Sabaot would like their own markets to be developed so that they can stop the frequent trips to Kimilili market. Poor roads have even made it impossible for people to own vehicles. If the roads were okay we would even be having direct vehicles from here to Kitale or vehicles from Kitale through Kapsokwony and direct to Cheptais. So it should be known that the poor roads here have tied down development. I also personally fell that the Sabaot should be encouraged to accept zero grazing as part of development because zero produces more milk.
Section 6
I was thinking that Sabaot still have large land holding that it would be inappropriate to advise them to adopt zero grazing?
I surely don't think the Sabaot still have a lot of land. Say it is big for a few people. But if actually people wanted to improve milk production, they should adopt zero grazing where one can get 20 litres of milk from one cow in a day. Where as a free grazing cow can only give you 2 litres daily! There 20 litres and two 2 litres which one would you prefer?

How do the Sabaot look at modern hospitals?
Hospitals are also seen as a major component of development. The Sabaot right now only have one government here in Kapsokwony. In Kaptama we have a small mission hospital which is very helpful. From here to Kaptama is about 14 Km yet in between here (Kapsokwony) and Kaptama there is no other hospital! When one goes to this direction of Tingei-you'll move from here to Kopsiro a distance of about 30Km to find Kispigon hospital! From there is Cheptais where you'll find another hospital is also very far. The Sabaot still need many hospitals and if it is possible, at least each division here should be served by two hospitals. And the Sabaot would definitely look at the hospital as a major aspect of their development. If donors came right now and said that they wanted to put a hospital here, the Sabaot would be very excited.

How are the Sabaot coping with this kind of situation where they have very few hospitals?
Many Sabaot think they have been ignored by the government and that is why we have few hospitals. Many people quite often take their sick to hospitals outside this district.

How do the people look at the Sabaot leaders here, taking into consideration the issue of inadequate hospitals?
People have definitely blamed the leaders. Leaders generally are also great liars. They tell the people that it is the government that has failed the Sabaot not them the leaders. But when you examine the whole thing critically, it is our leaders who have let us down because most of the time they are preoccupied with the squabbles among themselves.
Section 7
What is your opinion on the line development that has taken place in Mount Elgon District?
I personally think that we are making a positive step but there is still a weakness because we have not found leaders that embrace development whole-heartedly. Those leaders who are willing to work selflessly for the people for example now that we have two MPs (elected and nominated). They would help the community if they were committed. Our MPs can even help other people and forget those who voted for them. You look at the people like counsellors and you also realise that they have no unity among themselves. I believe that if the counsellors, MPs and administrators united, I think that we would progress. Because when you meet party officials-they blame the MP, you meet counsellors they blame party officials while others blame the MP and this throws everything in a disarray. Therefore the main weakness in development is in the leadership.
Something strange is that, most beneficiaries of the thing that can bring development in our area, are outsiders. For example, if one goes to our forest, the Sabaot are not mining timber, but outsiders are doing it and going away with the timber. Whereas, when the Sabaot go there, we are not given a chance, because those people mining timber are at the same time leaders (senior administrators, foresters etc). Therefore I feel that the elite in our community like the university students should form an association. In 1957, when I was a student, we formed a student association, which united the Sabaot students both in Kenya and Uganda, and at that time, we had Moss and Kiti as our leaders who united us. After the demise of these people, the association went under.
Now that we have a district of our own, leaders should be coming home to enlighten the people on development. People should be told that Sabaot land right now is very small and we are just living on a mountain strip. You the youth, should ask yourselves where you will live and where your children will live too. For the Sabaot have been pushed to the foot of the mountain.

It is like you are saying that Sabaot have pushed to the foot of the mountain slopes. Who has pushed them?
Other communities because Sabaot land extended from here to Webuye and then it extended like that up to Bungomaand, it went like that up to Teso and Malaba border. But right now, we have lost nearly all the land. We have been pushed. We have been pushed from Webuye. There is a place in Bukusu land called Khachoge but the Sabaot call it Kapchonge- this was our land. Look at places like Bokoli-this was our grazing land! There used to be a special route for our livestock (Kendap Kechirok) immediately after Misikhu. This route passes through Chebukwo and also passes at a place called by the Bukusu Kabuchai when it should be Kapchai. But right now, we have been pushed to the foot of the mountain. In short, the Sabaot have lost so much land.

Why do you think the Sabaot lost this land?
The first reason is the pastoralist nature of the Sabaot. Whenever disaster struck e.g. death of livestock or a human being, the Sabaot would migrate. Hence we lost the land because of our nomadic nature. Secondly, the worst thing came with chief Murungu in 1922 when Sabaot who used to have dreadlocks were humiliated by the chief who forcefully pulled out their hair. To be a man, at that time, for a Sabaot, you needed to have dreadlocks. These were the warriors of the community and they spent most of their time partying in times of peace. The chief Murunga was not impressed by the people who had dreadlocks and who would not even want to work on the farms. The chief forced them to help in the construction of the road but they escaped from that kind of work. When they were later caught, they accused them of being tough headed because of the dreadlocks and this is when they literally pulled off the dreads from they heads! This is something the Sabaot could not take and they migrated from the areas that were under chief Murunga hence losing more land. So all these combined factors led to the Sabaot loosing land. Again, what the Sabaot valued most was their livestock and they had some contempt for people who cultivated land.
Section 8
Where did they go when they ran away from chief Murunga?
On running away, they then settled in Transzoia because Transzoia was still Sabaot land. They lived in Transzoia until the arrival of the settler who also dispersed them. The settlers were aware that they were dealing with pastoralists and people who could easily be manipulated. The settler decided that each Sabaot will be giving livestock every year to be allowed to stay in Transzoia. Usually, it was four to five cows given to the settler every year. Those who had many cows would even be asked to give up to ten cows per year to the white man and in fact the settler agents would select the prize bulls only to give to the settler. The settler used these bulls as oxen to plough his farm while the original owners of the livestock languished as squatters.

How did the people feel about the coming of the settlers and the type of treatment meted out to them?
There was nobody who enlightened the people at that time. People were seeing the settler as another enemy who was very manipulative and a great conman. But however because people knew that there was still a lot of land, they did not see the need of standing up to fight the all powerful white man and resist eviction from their land.

Now from the time the Sabaot lost their land to this time, have they made any efforts to reclaim back some land?
They would have tried but they have not. This is because the time the Sabaot now became enlightened, the local leadership was in the hands of the Sabaot. Most of the time here we were under the Bukusu. And this made it very difficult for the Sabaot to reclaim their land. At that time when the Sabaot realised the need to reclaim their land, they were disadvantaged because they had very few educated people to effectively present their case. It is only now that we have had a sizeable number of educated people that the issue of reclaiming land is quite often discussed.

Are you saying that you can not remember any efforts, say in the 1950s and 1960s or 1970s, the Sabaot made to reclaim their lost land?
I should say that before 1960 the Sabaot had not made any efforts because they had very few educated people to lead them. Again the Sabaot population was still very low and the Sabaot were scattered all over. Some had migrated to Uganda, others to Tanzania and others were in West Pokot. Those who remained were very few. You should also note that the majority of the Sabaot who went to school are the children of those who migrated out of Sabaot land. This was because they got an opportunity to live with the non-Sabaot who enlightened them. For example, even myself I moved in to the core Sabaot land when I was already a trained teacher but I went to school outside. Even my siblings also went to school outside except my young brother who did his fourth form from here (Kapsokwony High) but unfortunately he passed away
Section 9
You must be aware of the war the Sabaot fought with the Bukusu in 1963. Can you perhaps tell me something about the war?
The 1963 conflict with the Bukusu came up because the Sabaot who had gone to school and they wondered aloud why they were being oppressed by the Bukusu? The majority of the people in this area were Bukusu and they had total contempt for the Sabaot. They contemptuously dismissed away any idea that was brought up by the Sabaot. They would even physically molest the Sabaot. The Sabaot were fed up with this kind of treatment. Then luckily around this time the late Daniel Moss also appeared on the scene with the late Kiti plus Kisiero, Mwalimu Chemengich, and a few others. People were absolutely fed up with the Bukusu mistreatment and it was against this background that the 1963 war between the Bukusu and the Sabaot broke out. In fact the most infuriating thing for the Sabaot was that the Bukusu wanted their fellow Bukusu to stand as a member of parliament in Sabaot land when the Sabaot wanted Daniel Moss their own son to represent them. All these led to the war and the car of Mr Matotali (the person the Bukusu wanted to stand for MP) was burned. Houses of Bukusu in this area were set ablaze and at that time, I was in Kabianga Teacher College.
Bukusu also started burning houses of the Sabaot who were living in areas they dominated. Even I personally lost my house and even houses of my parents were burned down. I received this news when I was in college and I was informed that even my parents had migrated. This was the time oppression by the Bukusu was vividly explained to the people. And it was this time that the Bukusu openly showed their cowardice because they put up a very weak resistance. All the Sabaot that were living down those sides moved up the slopes to this side.

How did this war finally come to an end?
It was after the 1963 elections that this war came to an end and after the Sabaot had had their own leaders. But we can say the war came to an end when the Bukusu had moved out of this area.

How did the community feel about the war?
The whole community looked at this as a liberation war from the oppression of the Bukusu. The community was very positive about the objectives of the war.

After the war, how did the Sabaot relate with the Bukusu?
The relationship was lukewarm. The enmity did not go away, and recently (1992) when another war broke up between Sabaot and Bukusu. Even now, the relationship between the two communities is still poor.
Section 10
What would you say is the relationship between the 1963 war and the 1992 war?
The relationship is that both the wars broke up because of the contempt Bukusu have had for the Sabaot. The Bukusu have also had a desire of wanting to rule the Sabaot and this is something the Sabaot will always resist. Sabaot were trying to resist assimilation by the Bukusu and I believe that God has always been on the side of the Sabaot because initially the Sabaot had only one location which produced another location that combined to produce a division. The division produced another division, which combined to produce a sub-district. The sub-district has now produced a district! We now have four divisions, which now show that the Sabaot are achieving their independence from the Bukusu. The Sabaot are somehow in charge of their own destiny.

Now that the Sabaot have a district of their own, what would you say are their feelings towards the Bukusu?
Many members of the community would be very grateful to the government if the boundary between the Bukusu and Sabaot was dominated in such a way that we don't ever mix up in one district again. People have had feelings against Bukusu and even the present association is very casual. We can do business together but we can't definitely live together. It is impossible for Sabaot to live in peace with Bukusu. Right now the main concern of the Sabaot is that they should be ruled from the rift valley province not western province as it is now. They want to be part of the north rift valley province when it is curved out. The Sabaot can not be said to be comfortable in Western province. Even some Bukusu leaders are heard saying that they would start a war with the Sabaot as soon as President Moi leaves the reign in power. The Sabaot are generally not contented with the leadership of western province and they even hardly go to the provincial headquarters in Kakamega.
The discrimination the Sabaot used to face at district level in Bungoma has only been moved up to the provincial level at Kakamega given that we only have one MP. For example, if a development project is to put up, they will debate at the provincial headquarters but when it comes to voting we will definitely loose because we have only one MP.

What makes the Sabaot think that they will be treated fairly if they were administered from rift Valley province?
What makes them feel that it is better, they are ruled from the rift valley province is because their fellow Kalenjin brothers are also in the rift valley e.g. the Nandi, Pokots, Marakwets, Keiyos, Tugens etc. This is what makes them anticipate better treatment. We believe that people whom share the same language with can not mistreat us. In rift valley, we shall be unity with other Kalenjins and we shall protect each other in future. The present situation is not good because Sabaot are very vulnerable in western province among the Luhyas.

Long time ago, if a Sabaot man wanted to marry what was he to do?
If one wanted to marry, usually he would inform his parents that he had seen so and so’s daughter of whom he wished to marry, and from there, your parents would go and talk with the parents of the lady. From there if the parents accepted they would now want to know if the man had agreed with the lady. Later the parents of the latter would inquire from their daughter if they agree with the man. If the parents are through that is when you'll make arrangement with the lady so that she can present you to her parents. If her parents receive you, you will note the way in which they receive you whether they are enthusiastic about your marriage to their daughter or not. It is after this stage has passed successfully that the two decide to marry and live together. But there were cases when you would inform your parents of a lady you want to marry and they tell you that we do not intermarry with that type of family.
Section 11
What made people not intermarry with certain families?
This was usually based on clans because there were certain clans that were traditionally friends with others and hence you could not marry from a clan that was not traditionally friendly to one another. For example, many parents could not allow their children to marry from those clans of prophets. If a prophet married your daughter, you were not free to ask for dowry from him, and also if one married a prophets daughter, the prophet will make sure that non of your children becomes a prophet and if one shows indications of taking up that profession, he might even be killed by the prophets or they could use witchcraft to make them stupid or mentally retarded.

How was payment of dowry done?
Payment of dowry was cheap because it used to be only three cows. One would also but two blankets one for the father-in-law and one for the mother-in-law. These other things like money and sugar that they pay these days are recent developments.

When did you marry?
I married in 1970.

How old were you then?
I was about 35 years.

Which was considered the right age for marriage?
For the men, the right age was about 30 years and about 25 years for the girls. But a man would be allowed to marry early say at 25 years if he was the only son in their home.

How did parents value both the boys and the girls in society?
A child was a child they were looked at equally. It depended on age groups-both boys and girls in the same age group were treated equally. It was only married men that were allowed to sit with elders. The young unmarried could not sit with elders.

Do you mean to say that both the girls and the boys were treated equally in the Sabaot community?
The boys to be sure are seen as being more important than the girls, because it was only sons who would carry on the family name and would defend the community in times of war. So a parent who had no son would really feel miserable and pray to God that he give him a son. It was obvious the girls would one time get married and leave you alone.
Section 12
Do you think that the Sabaot still hold this perspective of holding the boy more superior to a girl?
Surely, the Sabaot have not changed much on that issue. They still hold the belief that the boy is superior to a girl. It is only very few people among those who have gone to school that have managed to overcome this bias.

What is your personal opinion on this issue?
I personally think that all children are equal. But I know it can be unfortunate if one absolutely has no son to carry on the family name. And also in your old age, you might not find someone to take care of you or manage your property in the right way. I therefore think that it is still important for one to have a son although this should not be the basis of discriminating against the girl child.

Sabaot are a community that circumcise their youth - how they do this?
Both the boys and girls were circumcised. Circumcision was done when somebody was near the age of 20 years or there about. The traditional brew was made and this candidate (initiate) went about inviting relatives and neighbours. Then on the D-day there would be drinking of the traditional brew and dancing of the initiate until dawn, when the initiate would be taken to the river and brought back for the real operation. After the operation drinking of the brew would then continue and those who have been circumcised are taken to seclusion. Generally during the ceremony, there was a lot of feasting because, apart from the brew, a bull would also be slaughtered to feed the guests. Circumcision to both boys and girls was a transition from childhood to adulthood and during seclusion, they were now taught how they should behave as adults, especially preparing the role of parenthood.

What does circumcision generally mean to the Sabaot community?
It served to distinguish tribes. Like the Sabaot mention that they came from Egypt and then there is a claim that they must have adopted circumcision from the Israelites.

If it is true that circumcision distinguished tribes, how then were you differentiated from the Bukusu who also circumcised their sons?
The Bukusu adopted circumcision from the Sabaot. In fact they are copycats! In fact there is even a sing among Bukusu about somebody who was called Mango that talks about this. It says there was a Bukusu man called Mango who wanted to marry a Sabaot girl. But he was told by the parents of the girl that if he wanted to be allowed to marry a Sabaot girl, he should be circumcised. And to be circumcised, he was told that this would only happen if he killed a python that lived in a nearby cave. Because Mango was a brave man and he wanted to marry the Sabaot girl, he prepared to kill the python. He sharpened his panga (sword) and went to the cave before the python came in. When in the evening the python came in and it coiled itself and faced its head facing outside. Mango woke up slowly and slashed the head of the snake. In fact the tree that was bitten by the head after it had been severed is said to have dried up! It was after this show of courage that Mango was then circumcised and allowed to marry a Sabaot girl. From that time, the Bukusu have also been circumcising their sons.
Section 13
If Bukusu adopted circumcision from the Sabaot, how come the Sabaot do not have circumcision of their own?
Sabaot are generally proud people. It is said that after the Bukusu also started circumcising, they had many circumcisers and the Sabaot circumcisers saw this as a menial job and therefore left it to the Bukusu to continue with the trade to date.

If you adopted circumcision of the boys from the Israelits, then were did you adopt circumcision of girls?
I can't be able to say this but I can only say that circumcision of girls has been going on for a long time.

What does the community think about the circumcision of girls right now?
They still value circumcision very much and insist on it. It is only a few people who have gone to school and the saved Christians who do not support it much. But the majority is for it.

But what do you personally see as the difference between circumcised and uncircumcised girls?
There is no difference at all.

Do you think circumcision of girls should continue?
In my view, I think it is for the girls to choose. If one decides to be circumcised then it is up to her. But this is something I wouldn't encourage somebody to do. But I at the same time would not stand on someone’s way if she wanted to do it. There should be freedom of choice. I personally refused to circumcise my daughters.