Kenya glossary


(KENYA 19)








Schools inspector




November 1996



Section 1
I am in Kapsokwony district headquarters, Kapsokwony division and I am talking with Mr. Wycliffe Kaipei who is an inspector of schools in Kapsokwony district headquarters.
Mr Wycliffe Kaipei, could you start by telling us when you were born and how you grew up?
I was born in 1960, in Namario sub-location currently Namario location.

Give us some history about your childhood.
I went to Sendera Primary School in 1967 where I started my standard one. In 1968, I started class two, 1969 I was in class three. In 1970, I did not go to school for lack of school fees. In 1971, my father was made a committee member for the Chebiuk settlement scheme. He decided that we move to Chebiuk, and I had to accompany him. When we went to Chebiuk, we stayed at the current Kopsiro. That is where we stayed with my father as from early 1971, before the actual resettlement began, and we moved to Chewangoi in the current Neemia sub-location.
So in 1972, I did not learn in standard four, so I went to Maseek Primary School which was closer to my new home in standard five. I continued in the same school in standard six and seven. In 1974, I did my K.C.P.E in the same school. My dad was unable to pay for my school fees, so I had to repeat in another school. I repeated standard seven in Chebosi Primary School in 1975. I did my papers, and joined Kebabii Secondary School in Bungoma district in 1976. I did my form one and two in Kebabii. In form three, my dad could not manage to pay my fees, so I had to stop my education.

Why was there this problem of school fees? Was it that you came from a large family where resources were not enough to share adequately?
Generally of course, I came from a large family. My father was trying his best for I had an elder brother who was in Kakamega High School. I had two other brothers who were in Cheptais Secondary School at that particular time, as he was unable to meet the fees obligation.

Your father was a polygamous man?
Section 2
How many wives did he have by that time?
That time I said that I had to accompany my father to Chebiuk, the reason
was that my mother ranked number three in our family by then. She had passed away in the early 60s.

So your father had three wives?
Four wives.

If you can approximate, how large was the family?
We were over twenty so my father had a fees problem. I had a breakdown in learning in 1978, but then in the course of the year, my father thought it best to change me to a different school. He sought for me a vacancy in [form] three in Kapsokwony Secondary School. He got a vacancy for me and that is where I schooled in form four. I did not do very well in K.C.E, so I had to re-sit the exams in Bungoma High School in 1980. I re-sat for my papers and passed. Generally during my life as a youth, I was a sportsman, so I left after finishing my 'O' levels, there were many companies looking for people who were excellent in sports, So I joined 'K.F.A (Kenya Farmers Association).

What kind of sports were you involved in?
Athletics - I was doing the decathlon, meaning more than ten events. I would do the field and track events. I excelled very well in these activities, making good records both in the provincial level and in the national level. I could do pretty well in 110 metre hurdles, 200 metres, 400 metres and 1,500 metres. For the field events, I could do the long jump, triple jump, javelin, shot put, discuss and hammer. All these events I could do quite well, for my standard was of the national level.

So, you were taken by K.F.A?
I was taken by K.F.A. Now apart from the athletics part of it, I was also playing volleyball. I was a very good volleyball player. Even now, I can play volleyball very well. K.F.A at that time was not interested in volleyball players. I had to join K.F.A in 1980.

In which position did you join K.F.A?
I was a clerical officer in K.F.A, and then during the year 1980, K.F.A had begun buying cereals from the farmers on behalf of the National Cereals Produce Board. I was deployed to do fieldwork and I went to work in Njoro. Thereafter, I went to Makutano, the junction of Maji -Mazuri, Eldama Ravine and Baringo. It can also connect to Nakuru on the other side. So I worked in Makutano in 1980. In the course of 1980, I began thinking of how to change my career. So I thought that teaching would be a good career for me, for I wanted to continue with some of the things that I wanted to do when I was in school. I went home and made applications to join a primary teachers college.
In 1981, I secured a place in Egoji Teachers Training college. That is where I pursued my P1 course, ending in 1983, where I successfully qualified as a P1. In Egoji, I also did all that I used to do in secondary school in terms of sports. I remember in the year 1982, we were about five sports men/women who were selected to represent the entire college, for I was capable of representing the college in thirteen events. In these thirteen events, I secured position one on all of them. My college was declared number one because of my own efforts. So after qualifying, I was posted by T.S.C to Bungoma district where I was re-posted to Kebei Primary School currently in Kopsiro division to start my career. I continued teaching in Kebei Primary School up to 1985. It was during that time that Bungoma district Education office was concerned in identifying individual teachers that were out to promote the standard of education, and in getting this, they had to look at the subject performance of the examination class. The office could identify them and re-deploy them to hold some responsibilities elsewhere, so that they could continue creating academic competition.
In 1985, I was promoted to the status of a deputy headmaster and posted to Kipsikurok Primary School. I went there and found a very good headmaster, a Mr Masavu, who I worked with very well. We continued to develop the school with the help of the Parents Teachers Association (PTA). We did quite a lot, for the standard of education had to improve. And in the year 1986, as you know in November, the ministry does balancing and normal transfers, so I was transferred to Chepkurkur Primary School where the headmaster was Jipcho Ben. As deputy, and with the collaboration of the PTA, we were able to improve the standard of education of that school. It was during the end of 1986, that the Bungoma district education office identified me and employed me as a headmaster, due to my hard work and subsequent good results in Chepkurkur Primary School. I was promoted and taken to Kabukwa Primary School in 1988.
Section 3
Kabukwa is in which division?
It is in Kopsiro division. When I went to Kabukwa Primary School, I used the experience that I had gained. I mobilised the staff, parents and pupils. The required facilities were brought and the standard of education went up. Kabukwa initially was position 7 in the zone (Elgon Centre). Out of my efforts, during the year I was there, it improved to position three. In 1989, we had to improve further and the school became number one in the zone, number three in Elgon Sub district, it was number 36 in Bungoma district out of four hundred and forty two schools.
My school continued to excel in academic performance. We sent our boys to Friends Kamusinga, Kebabii High School, Musingu High School and they performed well, some of them made it to the university. From the time I took charge of Kabukwa Primary, my school lead in the zone l level for the years I was the headmaster. We continued improving our examination results. I remember even when Bungoma district had dropped, my school continued performing well.
Due to these improved results, I was promoted to be a TAC tutor (Teachers Advisory Centre). I was deployed as a TAC tutor in 1990. I worked as TAC tutor and to be in this position, you had to be well versed with the curriculum, interpret the syllabus and advise the teachers accordingly on how best they can follow the guidelines. After that, we had to arrange for many seminars in Emia zone by then. Emia by that time was number 21 in Bungoma district. Out of the hard work, and co-operation of the parents and teachers, we improved to position 13 out of 22 zones in Bungoma district by then. That was quite an improvement.
It is out of this, thereafter, in 1993, when Mount Elgon was elevated to a fully-fledged district, that the education office of Bungoma district identified some of the field officers to perform the duties of inspector of schools. I was identified and promoted to this rank and deployed to the District Education Office as inspector of schools. In 1993, 1994, I worked there. In 1995, I unfortunately got involved in a road accident, and was hospitalised in Lugulu Mission Hospital. I was treated and came back. I then requested the District Education Office to re-deploy me to Kopsiro division, which it did, and I was re-deployed as Divisional Inspector of schools, from June 1995. I went to Kopsiro, where I worked up to May 1996.
In June 1996, the DEO found it necessary to recall me back to the DEO’s office, and then I was re-deployed to this office as inspector of schools, charged with all the recreative activities - scouting, girl guides - and I am in charge of the storage and supply of school milk. Apart from this, I am a regular inspector of schools. Basically, I have gone to many seminars pertaining to my current work.
Section 4
Mr Kaipei, you have been very much involved in the Ministry of Education. You started as a P1 teacher, rose over the ranks of deputy headmaster, TAC tutor and even inspector of schools.
Also I wanted to mention that in the year 1991, I was promoted to the next grade. That is one thing that I did not mention. I applied for promotion on merit in 1991, and I was promoted to S1 (Secondary One), after inspection by some school inspectors and through their recommendation. By the time I was supposed to be promoted as an inspector of schools, I was already in that grade of S1. By the year 1995, I was promoted on merit to ATS (Approved Teacher). To date, I am in that grade. I would like to point out that my career in education, even in sports, you are aware that Mount Elgon has been featuring so well in sports. I want to give reference to 1996…even since 1993, since we got our district we have been excelling in athletics and even in other games.
In most cases, people have been thinking that football is a game for the Luhya's down there, but I think, when we went to Busia, Mount Elgon district had to knock out Kakamega district in 1993, which is the home of football in western Kenya. Let me hasten to say that Mount Elgon is an all-round district. It can excel in all activities for this. Food is available. Let me say that our children are potential academicians, it is only because we lack facilities and the under staffing that has been existing.
Considering that you know what happened in 1991-1992, most of the teachers teaching in Mount Elgon have not been locals. Due to what happened in 1992 - the infamous tribal clashes - most of the teachers had to run away for security reasons. Personally, I feel that it was not their fault, for the situation at that time was chaotic. People of Mount Elgon have had a drawback in education since 1992, because it affected the performance of the children. What I would like to mention now on other things related to education is that, we settled up…the standards are coming up.

Are you saying that you have had the teachers coming back I mean non-Sabaot?
I want to say that we have heard about some non-Sabaot teachers coming back. Particularly the Bukusu teachers, who happened to be bona fide residents of Mount Elgon. They have had to come back. When the situation got back to normal, some of the non-Sabaot of course did not come back. I want to particularly say that the Bukusu teachers do commendable jobs, especially the Bukusu who come from Mount Elgon.
Section 5
Why is it the case?
I feel they feel obliged to do their best because they are part and parcel of this mountain. Because I want to mention from my own experience that almost all of those who came from elsewhere, would ask for permission to return to their homes every Friday, and then they would only turn up on Monday in the afternoon. You can imagine that their input on Monday and Friday was missed every week, so they were definitely slacking. But I want to assure you that the element of ethnicity does not arise when it comes to work. In fact, may I also say, more realistically, that the Sabaot and the Bukusu of Mount Elgon have no problems among themselves. Most of the hatred that is being alleged to appear between Sabaot and the Bukusu, is not being done by the Mount Elgon Bukusu. This is being said and done by the Bukusu outside Mount Elgon.

Now that you have mentioned the 1992 disturbance - the “infamous” tribal clashes as you call them - how did this come about?
I would like to say that the tribal clashes did not begin from Mount Elgon. There was a general crisis all over Kenya because we used to hear that even the Kisii (Abagusii) down there were having some clashes with the Maasai. I remember that it is the information that we used to read in the papers. It touched the Luos versus the Kipsigis, and it also developed between the Kakamega Luhyas and the Nandis, and it started in Transzoia. It is a fact that it did not start in Mount Elgon. The clashes began elsewhere, in Bungoma district before Mount Elgon was carved out of Bungoma. It appears that the clashes were facilitated more by the fact of political affiliation, and I feel the there must have been a trick by fellows who wanted people to clash, so that the overall Kenyans would see multi party as a wrong fora.
I think the clashes were politically instigated by people who knew what they were doing, and some of us whatever we think, condemn anybody that might have instigated the very infamous tribal clashes. I believe that what happened in Mount Elgon more particularly did not have the same explanation as other areas. I would want to have my own opinion.

You being a Sabaot, a person who was born and brought up in Mount Elgon, what is our perception of the clashes?
What I want to suggest generally to be my opinion is that Bungoma district at that time…let me say, the lower part of the district was predominantly inhabited by the Bukusu, and the upper part was predominantly inhabited by the Sabaot. The Sabaot had fewer leaders than the Bukusu. In the initial stages, there had been an element of struggle for development in the district. When you look at what happened after Independence, much of the development activities were concentrated on the lower side of the district.
Section 6
That is the lower Bungoma side....
Yeah, the lower side of the district. Let us consider the fact that Mount Elgon had only one leader, and even if he had to voice anything about the upper side, there was a syndicate where things could not be done, because the others would gang up in favour of their own place.
If I draw your attention back…even before Independence. What happened was that the lower sides of the district were inhabited by the Sabaot. The Sabaot are fellows who led pastoral lives. They would go to places where there were green pastures. It is a fact that all Kalenjin, wherever they are, have had to occupy the highland areas. The reason was for the green pastures and also for security, because they felt that the highlands were a suitable place for them to oversee their enemies. That has been the general view of the Kalenjin in line with security. You know most of the highlands have good hideouts.
Now, if I draw your attention to the relationship between the Sabaot and the Bukusu as far as when the colonialists were still in Kenya. It is a geographical factor that the Bukusu and Sabaot have had to be neighbours from time immemorial. Before Independence, the most recognised leaders among the Sabaot and Bukusu and the Luhya in general, were Mumia, the Suti of Bungoma, Murunga (Kimilili), Cheptais of the Sabaot, the Tendet among the Sabaot, and the Namanchacha of the Bukusu. The highly respected political leader by then was the late Masinde Muliro. I recall when the late Masinde was vying for MP, he was voted in by the Teso and the Sabaot. The Sabaot viewed Muliro as a leader of all the Bungoma people. Come 1963, when we got our Independence, those who were displaced during the colonial era were resettled.

The occupation of the white highlands...
What happened is that Muliro expanded the sphere of the Bukusu towards Transzoia, which was originally Sabaot land, and the Sabaot did not benefit from the resettlement. There was deliberation on whether the Sabaot should be compensated for the land they had lost to the whites, and the political leader at that time was Muliro. It is at this time the Sabaot started having suspicions on his intentions, and yet he was the leader of the common tribes. I feel that it is during the resettlement programme in Transzoia, that the hatred between the Bukusu and the Sabaot began, for the Sabaot also would have benefited because they had lost to the whites. Those who benefited are those who came from elsewhere, like the Bukusu, and the Luhyas who are close cousins of the Bukusu.
Whereas the Bukusu cherished the leadership of Muliro, the Sabaot viewed Muliro as the person who was out to destroy them, for he did not represent their interests. After 1963, in 1964, there was the electoral commission of Gakia and Chesire. It was at this time that Mount Elgon was given a constituency.

That was in 1964.
Yeah. It is the current Mount Elgon district that was declared a constituency in 1964. During the year 1964, a Sabaot in Transzoia by the name of Kitti was nominated by the Kenyatta regime. Even Kenyatta recognised the existence of the Sabaot in Transzoia by having a member of the community after Independence.
Section 7
That was in Transzoia.
Transzoia having been the ancestral land of the Sabaot, this made the Sabaot happy with this regime. Even if we never benefited from the actual resettlement scheme, those who were there hadn't be catered for by a person who had their interests at heart and that fared well with the nomination of Kitti Cheptigit as a nominated MP. The late Daniel Moss continued to fight for the recognition of the Sabaot in both Bungoma and Transzoia. As the late Moss was clamouring for the recognition of the Sabaot, the Bukusu were just stating to Kenyans wherever they were that the Sabaot were a dying race.

A dying tribe...
Yeah a dying tribe, because their was the element of taking land by force. I recall a situation in which, the current resettlement of the Bukusu in Chelubei brought about the leadership of Jonathan Baraza who was the chief of North Malakisi. The Sabaot of Chelubei were forced to surrender part of their land to the Bukusu. And may I also tell you that when the issue of title deeds came, they quickly started issuing title deeds in Chelubei, which they knew they had wrongly settled people in Sabaot land by force. There were very old men in Chelubei like Joseph Kamokuywa who was jailed and was ill-treated because he was trying to resist. Many other families like Kamuyet, Musa Nyoikia, and the family of Jeremiah. That is one area that even today makes the Sabaot feel like they dislike the Bukusu.
Initially after Independence, the Sabaot had to clamour to be recognised. Whatever effort they made, I think our friends down there were never happy about it. If the Bukusu had continued to appreciate the fact that the Sabaot existed, and recognised what was due to them and was rightly due to them, and supported them, I do not think they would have any cause for enmity. I do not think so. So it is out of the small things that I have mentioned…it even brought about the micro clashes, which I name so because they did not last long.
The Sabaot had to fight with the Bukusu even just for them to get a constituency in 1963. That was the clash between the Bukusu and the Sabaot because the Bukusu did not want Mount Elgon to be recognised politically as a place belonging to the Sabaot. You see, even after Independence, the differences are coming up because these other fellows did not want by all means to see the Sabaot politically recognised. So there was a clash in 1963. In 1968, clashes came up when the issue of title deeds came up in Cheptais division. This started due to this element of title deeds. There was now a quarrel, and there were hot land disputes in the current Cheptais division around the Chemoge area. In 1975, there were also clashes around Chelubei, because the Bukusu had begun encroaching into the forest, and they had the support of the political leaders - by then Mwangale and the rest. So, there also was a clash in 1975.
You can now see the elements of the clashes between the Sabaot and the Bukusu. Each of them, could automatically have been bearing on other differences, be it cultural or political. So, you find that even in political affiliations, we have not been affiliating with the Bukusu into one political party since Independence. I want to recall that in 1963, when the late Masinde Muliro was in KADU (Kenya African Democratic Union), the Sabaot among the Kalenjin community were the first to cross over to KANU (Kenya African National Union).
Section 8
From KADU...
From KADU…they crossed over to KANU, and it is on the basis of that, during the party struggle, that the late Kenyatta came to Kapsokwony in 1963. If you go to the district headquarters, you will see an Elgon teak that was planted by the late president Mzee Kenyatta. So, the Sabaot have a great respect for the late Kenyatta. It is the Kenyatta regime that recognised the Sabaot to be people, and that is why after 1969, Elgon was then made a division.

You have talked of talked of 1969…there is the issue of Tom Mboya who was a man hailing from western Kenya, and he was the kind that we are told was brutally murdered. Did this have any effects on the people of Mount Elgon?
Generally, I would say that the Mount Elgon people have been affected by the unfair murder of many leaders in this country. We are proud to be Kenyans and when we hear that a Kenyan wherever he is has been murdered…people of Mount Elgon have condemned the act, the unfair and brutal killing of these leaders. They were very bitter for they were aware that the late Tom Mboya was a man who was among the leaders of this nation, and that he participated in the transition leadership from the colonial powers to the African power. So they were bitter about it.

In that time you must have been young…how did you experience this? Did they demonstrate or did they show a kind of solidarity?
Yeah, it is true that I was young in that time, but there are events that I saw. There was some element of demonstrations against the brutal killing of the late Tom Mboya and any other leader, like J.M. Kariuku and even Robert Ouko. People here were concerned about the death of Robert Ouko, although I am not competent to give details about this, but I want to say that the general consensus among people is their concern about the national leaders, irrespective of where they come from.

The clashes of 1963, 1968, 1975 and the climax if we can call it, the 1992 clashes, how have they affected you people of Mount Elgon?
What I would like to say generally…you can see the profile of conflicts right from 1963, 1968, 1975…In summary I would say that the only mistake I have seen in our friends the Bukusu is that they did not appreciate the fact that the Sabaot existed. They do not even sympathise with their problems, their problems were not seen as problems. Because of that, the Sabaot felt it was unfair, to be in the same administrative unit as the Bukusu.
Even the fact of Mount Elgon becoming a district did not start until 1992. The clamouring for Mount Elgon to be a district was there immediately after Independence. There was even need to have a political marriage with the Teso. There was a clamour by the late Moss and the present MP to the Teso Mr Opanga Oduyi for the present Teso and Mount Elgon to have been made a district. This had not been only a Sabaot affair. The marginalisation of some Mount Elgon communities was the development agenda. The only problem with the Bukusu in Mount Elgon was that they would not sympathise with the problems affecting the people of Mount Elgon, but they would only sympathise with their fellow Bukusu. So the Sabaot would now reflect back hatred to this Mount Elgon Bukusu because he sympathises with the lower Bukusu who were the ones oppressing the Sabaot agenda. That is my view.
If the Bukusu from the beginning nurtured the feeling of good co-existence, that is said to have been there, then it can by asked, “Why are they quarrelling?” But let Kenyans know wherever they are that you can co-exist. Co-existing is there, but in what manner? So I want to think that the co-existence has been for harmony. The co-existence has been there, but with the problems existing within the co-existence because these people have lived in the Bungoma District but with a lot of suspicions on one another.
When it came to 1992, like I have said, the Bukusu were avid in following the political directions of the late Masinde Muliro, whom the Sabaot see as being their killer. You can see that whereas these people respect the late Masinde Muliro, it is him who caused the Sabaot to loose Transzoia, an issue that the struggle touches upon even now. The current government has not been keen on the plight of the Sabaot. The problem is likely to be there all the time. I tend to think that the 1992 clashes occurred due to the introduction of multi-party politics and it depended on party affiliations.
It happened that the Bukusu were in mass affiliated to FORD Kenya, of the late Masinde Muliro, who was the political enemy of the Sabaot. The Sabaot would not affiliate themselves with the party led by a person who marginalised them from mainstream politics. So it was this multiparty that enlarged the differences, for the Bukusu followed Masinde Muliro, and the Sabaot who believed KANU had done nothing wrong, decided to stay solidly in KANU. We did not remain in KANU because president Moi is a Kalenjin, and it is because of the politics, which KANU has offered to give Kenyans. The Sabaot were aware that if the late Masinde Muliro was given a chance to rule, they would have had more suffering, for serious political decisions would be taken by the person who had championed for their downfall. They were very suspicious of what could happen then. If the situation was not good even when he was in KANU, what would happen to the Sabaot if Muliro succeeded in his FORD Kenya? The Bukusu did not explain to the Sabaot in which manner they would benefit from FORD Kenya, and yet they had not even apologised for the first activities they had done against the Sabaot.
I want to point out a very significant area. When development plans were made, Mount Elgon projects were given a priority. But there was a syndicate where these people would go back, and re-prioritise the projects. And when it came to implementation, no projects in Mount Elgon were implemented.
Section 9
Would you give some details on this?
I may not be competent to quote exactly the details, but I would like to highlight those that can be seen now even by any reasonable Kenyan. I want to give an example of when the USAID gave Kenya a grant for gravelling roads. Not a single road was done in Mount Elgon. D.D.C in Bungoma was having a syndicate, and they could identify the project. An example is if you went through the D.D.C book, you would find that they are talking of gravelling a road from Machacha, Misikhu, Kibingei in Cheptais division and that road is physically outside Cheptais division. I would want to sight an example where the water projects of Kaptola, Kwiroro, Kibingei in Kapsokwony division…when physically, those projects are not in Mount Elgon, and many other examples.
Mount Elgon is a maize growing area. The fellows down there would open buying centres around Kamasido, Chesamisi, Mahonge, Kigul just along the boundary. So you see the Sabaot would be forced to transport the maize to the particular buying centres, and those places are physically in Bungoma, such that statistics in cereal board would reflect that the areas I have mentioned grow a lot of maize whereas the maize has been transported from elsewhere by the use of donkeys. And considering the distances…and even if you told those people to open buying centres, right inside Mount Elgon, they would be reluctant.
I also want to talk about a few projects. Remember when Hon Mwai Kibaki was Minister for Health, there was about 700 million shillings earmarked for health facilities in Bungoma district. Now out of this, they had to build Malakisi sub district hospital, Sirisia Health Centre, Mukhula, Kimayet health Centre, and they had to do some renovation to other hospitals. Out of the Kshs.700 million, what we only saw in Mount Elgon was the renovation of Kapsokwony health centre, there was no health unit constructed out of this big sum of money. The money was earmarked for the whole Bungoma district but only benefitted Bukusu dominated areas.
You see people are aware, they know that that is what happened. If you are a reasonable person, if these things went on like that, where will Mount Elgon people be? Mount Elgon is the most productive area in Bungoma District. When you look at the productivity of Mount Elgon with other parts of Bungoma districts…let me compare some of these places. Just go to Sirisia down there and compare the production with Cheptais division…Cheptais division definitely out-matches Sirisia division in production. Look at the development agenda, I forget to mention about Kapchayi health centre which is in Sirisia. They concentrated on Sirisia, Kimayet, and Bokoli. All those health facilities mentioned were built in one division and none was done in the neighbouring division, which were Cheptais and Kopsiro. Cheptais is almost entirely inhabited by the Bukusu, but nothing came there.
So you can see that these are among the reasons why Mount Elgon as a region felt it was being marginalised by the Bungoma administration. Come the 1992 repeal of section 2A, the inception of multi-partyism, the Bukusu had to follow the political direction of the late Masinde Muliro. It is as a result of the same activities, for example in the local places, people had to differ, may be a Bukusu could forcibly tell a Sabaot to give a two finger salute and the Sabaot would give a one finger salute. Out of that people would spit on each other’s faces, like they would be in a social place, and this could lead to a fight. The differences would increase, and tensions in these communities would rise. What I would like to say is that the advent of multi-partyism facilitated tribal clashes because when Kenyans were in one party, it was not easy for one particular tribe to think adversely.
Section 11
What in your view are the effects of tribal clashes in Mount Elgon?
The impacts are both negative and positive. I think any responsible government would want to know why people are clashing, because I want to dispute that the clashes were instigated and managed by the government. They were not government managed at all. What did happen, as I have mentioned earlier, is that the introduction of multi-partyism ignited the existing differences between the Sabaot and the Bukusu, and as a result, the clashes started.
Like I said earlier, they did not start here but started elsewhere. In Bungoma, the fire caught the bush, which was already dry because there were existing differences. Multi-partyism facilitated the differences even further to an extent of clashes. What I want to say now is that after the clashes, I think the government was carrying out a research. It is true that Mount Elgon is far away from the main administration in Bungoma, which is responsible for the development of the whole district.
The Sabaot, Bukusu and Teso in Mount Elgon in general were suffering travelling for long distances to Bungoma to go and get the government officers assistance services. Although, when some leaders from Mount Elgon mentioned that Mount Elgon should be elevated to District status, some of the leaders in Bungoma were boasting and they never gave any reason as to why they felt Mount Elgon should not be given a district. They did not complain of the underdevelopment. They were merely opposed but if you asked anybody to justify the reason why Mount Elgon should not be given a district, most of them would not be given any substantial reason at all, and they were also not sympathetic of the problems facing Mount Elgon people. So it was up to the people of Mount Elgon to act according to the way they felt they were suffering. The root of the clashes that was a major factor was the split of Bungoma.

So, Bungoma district was split into two, that is Bungoma and Mount Elgon districts?
I can assure you that after the split, in future, there is a likelihood that there will be clashes between the two communities because one of the major reasons of the clashes was that when the Sabaot wanted this, the Bukusu were against it. Now that the Sabaot have got the district, that is the people of Mount Elgon, there should be no cause to have clashes.
Another thing is that people must now understand the meaning of multi-partyism. People are merely going to vote for the best candidate, not the best tribal candidate. So we in Mount Elgon feel that if the Bukusu, the Luos, Kikuyu or the Meru can offer a very good candidate, we will always vote for the best candidate. We are appealing to Kenyans to view leaders on their abilities to lead the nation, not on their tribal roots.
The institution of the presidency requires only one person and that person must be from a tribe. We will back him because he will be able to build the nation. That is the way some of us feel in Mount Elgon. The people of Mount Elgon are prepared to sit around a table with Kikuyu and identify their political differences and if possible iron them out and think as one. If it is political differences that have been making people differ, they should bury all the differences.
Section 12
Now that you are in your own district, you feel that you have your own identity.
Yeah. It is now bargaining. We feel that if there is anything they have felt as a community that is suitable for the whole of western province, and even including part of the rift valley. Whichever, even the whole of Kenya we should bargain at the table and say, okay, this is the best we can offer on this side, so what best can you offer on the other side. If we can outmatch what we have said then, they can cross over. We would like our people to appreciate the fact that we are one people of this country and wherever we are, let us appreciate the problem facing our individual Kenyans. If every Kenyan had that in mind, I do not think these problems would have come in.
If somebody knew that these people have been known to differ, he can even come and cause the problem and then runs away. When you wake up the next day, you suspect each other because already you are suspicious of each other. That is the way I view this my friend. So I want to appeal to other Kenyans wherever they are to think as Kenyans. People of Mount Elgon are agriculturally hard working people. We would like every Kenyan wherever he is to appreciate our good work and sympathise with us. Our roads are poor. We would like to make a common appeal to the government, that a major road should be constructed to facilitate the tapping of potential that is in Mount Elgon for any Kenyan to come and benefit from it because a road is a community based project.

There is one issue that I have not got clearly. How did these clashes affect the people including you as a person from Mount Elgon?
The impact is like this. In terms of agriculture, it has had a negative impact because some of those families that were growing coffee, they had to abandon there coffee, because they ran away for security reasons. Some of the Sabaot that were on the lower side ran up this side of the mountain. So they abandoned their cultivating work.
When it comes to education, it has had a terrible impact. There was an acute under-staffing of those schools that were manned by those people who ran away for their security. The performance and subsequent results have been poor.
Eh, when it comes to health, there has been an awkward problem. The people in Mount Elgon fear to go for treatment in any of the health facilities in the lower side because of the suspicion that they would not be treated well. These are some of the negative impacts that have come up.
The business part of it has had a negative impact because people in Mount Elgon, having been hard-working, lacked where to sell their goods, the freedom of movement was restricted to where somebody felt he was secure, since most of the markets for Mount Elgon products was across Bungoma. The Sabaot could not transport the goods, neither could the Bukusu freely come to purchase goods here.

What about the displaced people, have they been resettled?
Yeah, I would say that not everybody has come back. Not all the displaced people were displaced by the Sabaot. Some of the people who were displaced, found themselves having displaced themselves because of fear. The situation was not conducive for their living. The Sabaot for one are very forgiving people, once the fighting is over, they say “Let’s forget it.” They forgive and they mean it. Sabaot do not say that we are no longer going to quarrel again.
About the displaced people, some of the displaced people have not come back. One, I would like to make this point very clear. Some of the people have had to sell their land and the people who bought the land have not occupied it. So when you view any land that is unoccupied do not view it from a displaced person's point of view.
Section 13
It is already sold.
It has already been sold. Willing buyer, willing seller. As well, due to insecurity in the farms, because even the fellows, who have had to be displaced, even if they would come and plough their farms, they are still suspicious that the crop will not be secured. It may be harvested by human pests. This is one area that they feel we have been right. I want to be very clear that some of the abandoned farms have had to be hired out on a long-term basis. Some of them have leased their land to friends for a period of six to seven years.

To kind of countercheck whether the situation will be conducive?

You know during the infamous tribal clashes, I am sure people must have armed themselves, was it for protective or offensive purposes?
Yeah, in general, there was no sophisticated ammunition of course. Also what I witnessed was the use of arrows, spears, ordinary pangas (swords) ...Those were the arms used.

Were there no other arms smuggled across the border, like from Uganda, for you are just at the border?
You know, since I never saw the guns, what I would like to say was that most of the gunshots were heard at night. You would not have known who was handling the guns and ammunition. I do not think that the Sabaot had acquired guns, and if there were any, it was in some patches. I want to talk of pocket areas where the guns were seen. Around Cheptais areas - you know that Cheptais borders Uganda, and Uganda definitely in terms of management of ammunition has not been very good - such that most of the ammunition has had to be smuggled across the borders by both Sabaot and the Bukusu. Both of them have cousins across the border. So when it comes to the smuggling of guns, it might have been done by those people that have close relatives across the border.

Now that there are pocket areas where guns have been smuggled to, has there been a rise of insecurity and crime?
During the clashes, the crime was either somebody using the guns to raid other people's animals, that is why this element of cattle rustling has come in. The cattle rustlers are armed with sophisticated weapons, and it is normally done very late in the night, and it is done by both sides. When it comes to stealing of the animals, Bukusu come up and the Sabaot also go down there, depending on the opportunity. Even after the actual clashes subsided, we have heard that cattle rustling is still continuing - being common along the Kenya Uganda border. People are using the wake of the clashes to perpetuate cattle rustling.
Section 14
What is your attitude towards this practice of cattle rustling?
People are worried about the whole exercise. Nobody is happy about this. You know, the people of Mount Elgon's basic way of life is pastoralism. They keep animals and they think that they are being denied to do what they like. They are bitter. They do not want a Sabaot to kill a Bukusu or a Teso or a Sabaot.
These people after the peace talks…the Provincial Commissioner Lekolool did his part and I do not want to forget the District Commissioners Rintari, that is a man I respect when it comes to peace talks, to telling people about the adverse effects that the tribal clashes have. I believe that people should live in co-existence and if there is anything that might cause the clashes again, it should be ironed out, and also we should try to identify the culprits from the locality who are involved with the cattle rustling. In fact the local people should assist the government’s security personnel in identifying those people suspected to be practising cattle rustling.

What are the changes that have taken place in this line and what do you feel about them?
Of late, the government has intensified security, and deployed it along Mount Elgon, and along the forest to curb cattle rustling. Currently people do not want to hear about the clashes any more.

Now that lots of security personnel have been deployed, so many General Service Units, administration police, Kenya police in so many camps. How do you feel about this great number of security personnel in your area?
Normally, when the security personnel have been deployed along an area. There are two ways in which people view this. People would like to view this very positively and that their security is guaranteed. But you know the characters. The activities of the security personnel are also not good because the moral behaviour of most people tend to change. Some are forced to do some activities.

What are these activities they are forced to do and what is your feeling about this?
The security personnel are seen to harass the people when they are doing their work. You know in this particular area, people like relaxing after work. So they drink their busaa, and then the police harass them. They also come and collect some girls and take them to their camps, and the girls do not come back to their parents. Girls even fear to say what might have happened to them as a result of that. I feel that they are polluting the moral behaviour of this place.

Do you have many cases of moral abuse?
Yeah, we have many cases that relate to moral abuse.

What is the general feeling of your community about this?
The community feels that these people should be put in one particular camp rather then spread all over.
Section 15
Could you as an inspector of schools tell us about the background of education in your community, and what were the attitudes of your people towards it?
You know I had mentioned about the impacts about clashes, I would like to add on that by saying that there are some positive impacts when it comes to the recruitment of teachers in the teacher training colleges. The ministry of education is concerned about the education of the Kenyan children. It has recruited people from the local area to go and pursue teacher-training courses to come and perform duties as teachers. The element of under-staffing that was here does not arise now. The first local teacher who graduated since the inception of the ministry plan in 1993, was posted to Mount Elgon and the gap of understanding has been narrowed, hence the standards of education are steadily improving.
You realise, when Mount Elgon did the first national exam as a district of its own, we took position number 44 but during the second year, we were number 36 and we are also aiming higher than that. I tend to see that the attitude towards education is positive, because everybody is concerned. The ministry of education is giving the minimum qualification, which is enhancing the competition in schools. Most of the departmental advertised jobs are giving minimum qualifications which is now making the people in Mount Elgon realise that, unless you work hard to achieve the basic qualification, you will not succeed. People are coming in to provide basic facilities for the schools.

What is the general perception of girl’s education in your country?
In Mount Elgon, our girls have not featured very well in education. The gender distribution in learning institutions is not balanced. They tend to be balanced in primary levels and as we go up, girls tend to drop out.

Why does this happen?
The reason is the attitude of the parents towards girls’ education. They tend to think that it is not good to educate girls although we are telling them that the girls are as good as the boys. Eh! When the ministry took the girls to teacher training colleges from Mount Elgon, I think that this attracted girls’ parents here in Mount Elgon. Their urge to educate their girls now has improved as compared to the past

Other than the parents’ attitude, are there any other...
Any other reason is that of moral reasons. Many girls drop out of school due to pre-marital pregnancies and I have never seen a Sabaot who takes back a girl to school after she has given birth.

So, When a Sabaot girl has a pre-marital pregnancy, she can not be taken back to school?
If a girl gives birth outside marriage, most Sabaot parents don’t believe in continuing her education.
Section 16
So, what is the position of the girl child in the community? How does the community look at the girl child?
You know the Sabaot way of viewing girls…you know the moral behaviour…If you have not undergone the initiation of circumcision, and you become pregnant, it is seen as a taboo. She is looked upon as a social misfit in society. We have had girls who have fallen victims of this and have had to discontinue, because the attitude of the parents changes automatically. Because of the infiltration of other cultures that are coming in…

What is the role of the girl child in society?
You know, according to the Sabaot, after girls have completed their school satisfactorily, they are supposed to be housewives. They should be effective housewives and they are supposed to perform duties of a woman. In that context; we say that some of the duties of women among the Sabaot is to look after children, look after the family ware in general…that is their concern, and also to be charged with the discipline of the females.

Are these roles changing or they are rigid?
The trend is changing. You know there is the element of western culture coming in. Okay, we have had to maintain some of the traditional ways, but there are those that are fading very fast. Like the circumcision of girls…to most of our people it is not a major factor. Even me personally, I do not emphasise the fact that girls should be circumcised, because it does not hold a meaning as it used to during the olden days. I feel boys and girls should be given equal opportunities, because what is happening among the successful Sabaot girls is that they are more respectful to their parents than the boys. So, even as I am talking, the attitude towards girls’ education is improving. The roles of girls as I mentioned earlier - and I feel it must be in every community in this country - is to uphold those norms that are related to the performance of all females.

In recent years, there has been a tendency in communities in western Kenya to compare polygamy and monogamy. You as a Sabaot, a polygamous man, what is your feeling about polygamy in the present situation?
Polygamy is still practised by the Sabaot but not as much as it used to be. Polygamy is not normally practised because somebody would like have the prestige of having many women. People tend to go for second wives because of responsibilities. For example, if a Sabaot has land here and has another piece of land in Transzoia, it becomes difficult to manage effectively the two farms unless a more responsible person whom you trust - and I do not think there is any other person a man can trust other than another woman whom he has opted to marry - can be held responsible for the management of the land. That is what I have seen among the Sabaot. A Sabaot will marry an extra woman because of his multiple responsibilities.

Why is polygamy changing as a way of life among the Sabaot?
Generally, people are treating polygamy with a bit of care (caution). Some polygamous homes have specific problems. The Church’s influence has come in. It is slowly eradicating polygamy, as it is against it. Some families haven’t found it necessary to marry many wives. The element of not being able to manage is not there. The resources to maintain more than one wife are becoming rare. So people can not risk adding a problem on top of the other one. People are looking at it in that logical way, not that they fear marrying more than one wife, but from the resource point of view.
What I know is that polygamy was seen to be a resource for some families where the element of competition was instilled among the children, and that it was seen as a source of expanding relationships among our people. I also want to add that polygamy added a variety of heredity. You know that you can inherit some very good breed from a given home. That is why people viewed it. Generally though, the value of polygamy is depreciating.
Section 17
Now, you come from Kopsiro, and Kopsiro is the highest part of the mountain. What do you attribute to Mount Elgon? Is Mount Elgon of any significance to you?
Yeah, you see Mount Elgon is a God given geographical part of our settlement, and I would attribute our lifestyle to what is in Mount Elgon. This is because Mount Elgon is a mountainous place with volcanic soils, and therefore it is possible to plant all varieties of food crops that do well here. Ah, we also feel proud to be in Mount Elgon because we drink very clean water, which comes from the forest. We also feel proud to be in Mount Elgon because we are capable of utilising resources from the forest for domestic use.

And some of the resources are....
Timber and posts for building. Mount Elgon also has caves, which are a source of fertilisers to our farms. If you go to a cave in Mount Elgon, you will see that the dust from them is very rich in phosphorus. So we are proud of the caves, and they also act as shelter for our animals. I would say that the climate in Mount Elgon is quite favourable because we do not have many mosquitoes here. On the positive part, we feel proud to be in Mount Elgon because we are not generally affected by malaria, though there is the element of highland malaria, which is highly pronounced. This happens seasonally, especially when the maize is flowering, because this can attract hideouts for mosquitoes, and the prevailing winds tend to blow towards the sides. So the maize and coffee plantations can be suitable places for mosquitoes to hide and breed. This subsequently causes malaria in people who have never been affected.
What I wanted to mention also about the caves and the mountains, and those unique places, is that the most unique places in Mount Elgon are very specific areas which people adore and worship. You know religiously…In a location where the features are very unique, people associate this with a supreme being within this area. Our people worship God and they have associated some of the places with God. Like the peak of the mountain is associated with a supreme being, as this is where it is most likely to be inhabiting.

Do you have a special name for God?
We have. As you know, we have a name for god in our mother tongue. We call him “Yien”.

Yien. He resides up in the mountain?
Not necessarily. We associate Yien with the highest place…even in the blue sky. That is why the upper part of the mountain, which a normal human being can not easily reach, is where we think Yien stays. Those unique places.
Section 18
Mr Kaipei, there is the issue of Mosop. Who are the Mosop?
I think the word Mosop, according to the Sabaot, does not mean a person but it means the upper part of a place. So the upper part of the mountain is generally Mosop. It is not a tribe. Unless you wanted to talk about those who occupied the Mosop part of it.

There are people who are generally referred to as the Mosop, the Ndorobo.
Okay, yeah, I see. Now when you talk of the Ndorobo, I would also like to clarify that the Ndorobo is not a tribe. A Ndorobo is a way of life. But it happens that those who occupied the Mosop area are generally referred to as the Ndorobo, just because they used to live an unsettled life within the upper part of the Elgon, and that is why it is being referred to as the Mosop. Those are people who basically occupy Chepkitale region. Chepkitale was a sub-location right inside the mountain near the peak of Mount Elgon. Those people who used to occupy this area are the current Ndorobo. Sometimes in Kisabaot, we call them “Mosopsiek”, meaning the people who lived in the upper part. They are referred to as the Dorobo because they did not have an established way of life on the upper part of the mountain. I happen to belong to a clan, which is almost entirely of the Mosop group. What has been there is that the Mosopsiek used to occupy the Chepkitale sides.
In the late 60s, the leaders of Mount Elgon, in collaboration with the government, made a proposal for the possibility of those people to move down to occupy the government forest land, which could be made more arable, compared to the Mosop area which is Chepkitale. Eh! I think a decision was reached and plans for the same were programmed. These were suppose to come into effect in 1971, and the Mosop people were to be moved down to go and occupy the more arable land on the lower side. If I can remember, there were about 600 that had been earmarked to benefit from that particular resettlement in 1971.

Where these Dorobo were living…that is Chepkitale…did they own the land or they were just staying in the forest?
What I can say now is that in Chepkitale, there was a place that they occupied, although individual people had not received land title deeds. But they lived in an area that the government recognised was there place. There was a demarcated area that they were allowed to inhabit without individuals having land ownership documents.

Did they consent to move by themselves or were they evacuated?
They consented because there was a committee, which was established to oversee the land allocation, which is the current Chebiuk Settlement Scheme. Me, I feel there was that consent. Maybe I may not be able to measure the consent of everybody, but there was a general consensus that they move. That was effected in 1971 but no eviction was done.

What happened to these other people after it was agreed between the government and their leaders that they move to Chebiuk settlement?
What happened is that with this established committee, the committee embarked on the work of settling families. Each family was allocated land according to the size of that particular family. A large family would be given more land, so that I know that the land was distributed to them according to the size of the family by then. I would also want to mention that not everybody from Chepkitale was given land because when the first patch of settlement started, some of them did not come down directly to Chebiuk. Some went to Kiboror in Transzoia, and some to Ramromwet in the eastern part of Kaptama…yes, a few of them had to go and settle there. There was some unofficial settlement that was going on in the two places I have mentioned, which was similar to the other one, although the other one had an established committee. But you see, people had encroached towards the forest in the two places, so some of the Dorobo moved there.
Section 19
What was the kind of way of life of these people in Chepkitale?
They were purely pastoralists. They were keeping animals. They were not growing crops. They were keeping bees in beehives.

So they could harvest honey.
That is what I know about them.

How did they feel being brought to this arable land and leaving behind their practices?
You can not measure feeling. Human beings’ emotions can not be measured, but they can be judged by events. What I know is that a few of those who were dissatisfied, continued living and keeping their animals in Chepkitale, although they were supposed to settled in Chebiuk.
Some of the ones given the new land accepted this land, and they started practising the new way of agriculture. They began growing maize, and some started growing pyrethrum, and they also continued to keep animals, but on a smaller scale than compared to when they were in Chepkitale.

So their way of life kind of changed when they settled in Chebiuk...
Yeah...The cultural part of their way of life continued apart from the economic lifestyle.

Could you elaborate on the resettlement and any changes that were witnessed.
Yeah. What happened is that when the first patch of allocation started in 1971, an average of twenty acres was given to each family. Some isolated families got fifty or one hundred depending on the size of these specific families. Those who had received the bigger farms had a reason for it. I can name of few of these, but there is no need to mention their names. What I am saying is that others got two hundred acres depending on the size of the family. Twenty acres was distributed on average to those allocated land. Unfortunately, not all were settled by then. There were a few who did not benefit from the land allocation in Chebiuk.

What happened to those who were not resettled?
You know, the resettlement went on until the government said stop. A Dorobo is not someone who you can just force to go and be settled. Some of them took time to come and get the land. It is not that they were denied, because the exercise continued until it reached a stage where not everyone was settled, but it was rather stopped.
Section 20
What happened now that not all were resettled?
Based on the fact that not all had been resettled, remember those that had not been settled grew in number because even the younger ones had already become mature and the problem continued until it rather became a crisis. Since the government had not made a decision to expand the allocated plots and they wanted to confine them within the same place, complaints had been voiced that some fellows had allocated themselves bigger farms. In the 1986, a problem had been lodged but the government let us go for the survey for those that had already been settled pending the issue of title deeds.
In 1986, the local leaders did not perform their duties well. It was also unfortunate on the part of the local administration that those who occupied Chebiuk became a mixture of the lower Sabaot and the Dorobo. Some Dorobo had sold their land to some of the Sabaot from the lower sides. Out of that, the settlement did not benefit the Dorobo but it benefitted the lower sides. Complaints started to come up from there and then in 1986, when they brought the surveyors to do the demarcation, I think some local leaders colluded with the commission, who was not in favour of the Dorobo, and formed a committee, which did not favour the original Dorobo. So it is out of 1986 that problems started coming up such that some educated Dorobo started lodging some complaints to the government. Then the government re-decided on the fate of the original settlement.
It was in 1989 that the government, through the provincial administration, came and nullified what had been done and did some census. And thereafter it decided to re-allocate to the same people, only five acres to each individual that had attained the age of 18 and above, or to whoever was married.

To whoever was married even if he was less than 18?
This second resettlement has had problems because not all the Dorobo were settled among the lower Sabaot who had even bought land and also had been settled officially by the Wambete Committee 1989 resettlement scheme. So the problem has not yet been solved. We are now hearing that the government has rescheduled its programme for the same area and they have gone back to the ground to identify among the Dorobo, who did not benefit from the five-acre plot. Those who settled in Chebiuk between 1971 and 1989 and were given land by the Wambete Committee.
I want to inform you that along with the resettlement scheme, there are some fellows who encroached on the forest. So, the government is laying emphasis on those genuine people that settled there between 1971 and 1989. These included the original Dorobo that should have been settled by then, and had not been settled. They could not be very many…and the non Dorobo that either bought land or are affiliated of the Dorobo and were given land by that established committee of Wambete in 1971. Those are the people the government has identified as now pending solutions for the settlement to be made at a later date. Also let me mention that in the process, the Dorobo have co-existed with these other lower Sabaot, but it appears that the lower Sabaot, particularly those from the Bok tribe who encroached into the government forest, do not augur well the Dorobo.
Section 21
Are you talking of the people from Kipsigon?
The people from Cheptais sides from the extreme west. They do not seem to augur well with the Dorobo. Maybe the way they mix with these people does not please the Dorobo. There is that existing difference (small), but it is not a big one.

Does it have any effect on the development aspect of the area and the people?
Yes it has, because when it comes to building schools, people who suspect each other can not contribute generously. Like now, you can not keep good animals with somebody who you suspect is not your friend. You imagine they may be stolen or something like that. But in general, the conflicting factor is minimal. What is only lacking is that the Sabaot from Mount Elgon west should give the Dorobo respect because the Dorobo are accommodating them. They should leave the entire decision making on Chebiuk on the Dorobo, because the Dorobo are the people whom the Wambete Committee had settled officially in 1971. If that decision is left to those people, I can assure you that the Chebiuk issue will not be a problem that will be seen any more. This is because most of the decision-making in Chebiuk seem to be coming from outside, and this is making the people annoyed. Like you can find somebody on the Cheptais sides talking so much about Chebiuk when he has never been there. What I mean is that there is an external interference in the whole settlement in Chebiuk. So if the decision making was left to the people in Kopsiro itself and more basically to the genuine ones, those that went there genuinely, not those who encroached on the government land and want to identify himself along with those who had been settled officially.
I remember that those who have had to grab land already have some land elsewhere and those who were settled by the Wambete Committee do not have land elsewhere in this country. It is unfair for somebody who has land elsewhere to have a voice of somebody who has no land.

Thanks Mr Kaipei for the good testimony.