Moi’s symbols of power likely to go to Ruto

Former President Daniel Moi’s traditional leadership instruments received 65 years ago have been surrendered and are widely expected to be passed on to Deputy President William Ruto.

The DP, already blessed by Talai elders, is likely to be crowned the Kalenjin spokesman, the Star has been told, though elders will first deliberate and make an announcement.

Such a ‘coronation’ will intensify his rivalry with Moi’s son Gideon, the Baringo senator, to control the Rift Valley.

The ceremony is expected to be held either in November or early next year.

In preparation for that event, Moi’s symbols of power bestowed by the Kalenjin community were surrendered by his Tugen community elders on Thursday.

Moi died on February 4.

The Tugen elders traveled to Sochoi in Nandi county where they performed a secret ceremony without Moi’s family and handed over the instruments known as Samburto to Nandi community elders.

The Nandi elders had bestowed the same instruments on Moi in a ceremony in Kabiyet in 1955.

Sochoi is a sacred place to the Kalenjin where key cultural and traditional events usually take place. Within the Kalenjin subtribes, blessings for leaders are usually performed by the Nandis.

Mzee Benjamin Kitur, the Nandi Kaburwo chairman, led the Kalenjin Council of Elders known as (Myot) from Rift Valley to receive the instruments from the Tugen elders. They were led by their chairman, the Rev Kibet Sambu.

The instruments of power included the Sambut, Nogirwet, Korokto-stick, Rungut, Samburto and Kutwet, among others.

Chairman of Talai Council of Elders Rev (Rtd) Canon James Baasi who led the ceremony to bless DP Ruto in Nandi on June 16. Pictured on September 18.
ELDERS: Chairman of Talai Council of Elders Rev (Rtd) Canon James Baasi who led the ceremony to bless DP Ruto in Nandi on June 16. Pictured on September 18./Image: MATHEWS NDANYI
Rungut is the popular Rungu ya Nyayo that Moi carried everywhere during his presidency. He had one made of ivory.

The instruments handed over were not the original ones given to Moi; symbolic instruments were prepared for the event as the family retained the originals.

The handover is very significant within the Kalenjin community, especially as Deputy President Ruto is preparing to run for president in 2022. Gideon is also expected to run.

“This is a highly significant and historical event in the entire Kalenjin land and it’s  exclusively done by elders,” Kutur said after receiving the instruments.

The instruments will be displayed on October 9 to the Kalenjin community at yet another major event.  At that time, the entire Kalenjin community will be informed about the return of the instruments.

Announcement that Tugen elders handed over instruments of power given to President Moi, on September 17.
CEREMONY: Announcement that Tugen elders handed over instruments of power given to President Moi, on September 17./Image: MATHEWS NDANYI
Few months ago, Ruto sparked wide debate when he travelled to Nandi in the early morning to receive almost similar instruments from the revered Talai clan elders. They blessed Ruto and endorsed him for the presidency, declaring that no one else would be given similar instruments.

Among the Kalenjin, the Talai elders usually start the process of crowning the Kalenjin community leader and spokesman. With the return of the instruments given to Moi, a major ceremony is expected in which Ruto will be declared the Kalenjin leader and spokesman.

The main reason is that Ruto is already ahead of other leaders from the region, though he is battling with Gideon, the  Kanu leader, for political dominance in Rift Valley.

“This month in 1955, former President Moi was handed over the instruments of power (Samburto) by the Nandi elders to be leader and spokesman of the Kalenjin community, and by extension Rift Valley region as a whole,” a document prepared by the elders for the handover read.

The elders explained that the instruments were bestowed upon Moi as the son of one of the daughters of the Kalenjin but the instruments were to be returned to Nandi upon his retirement, hence, the Sochoi event.

“We therefore receive the instruments of power from the Tugen Council of Elders here at the Sochoi cultural center in Nandi. This makes it 65 years since the same were given to Moi in September 1955,” Mzee Kitur said.

At the ceremony it was decided Kitur will now call a meeting of the Kalenjin Council of Elders to deliberate on handing over the instruments to the next Kalenjin leader.

Just before Moi’s burial, Gideon was handed over a leadership baton by Tugen elders who said it was a family affair and not a community leadership baton.

Given the Ruto-Gideon rivalry, the handover of the instruments and expected ‘coronation’ of Ruto is expected to intensify competition between the two camps.

Gideon has begun revamping his Kanu party after signing a coalition agreement with Jubilee. He is expected to step up his political activities and later officially declare his run for the presidency.

(Edited by V. Graham)

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