By Amos Kareithi
There was song and dance that harvest season as every farmer had ample millet. The fertile soils had not disappointed and neither had the spiritual leader who time and again had spearheaded a string of successful military expeditions.
That season, as the initiates faced the circumciser’s knife, the elders’ imbibed drinks happily, occasionally casting their heads heavenwards, thanking the gods for being so benevolent.
The toast of the community was their undisputed Orkoiyot, Kapchonge, variously known as Arap Oluoch, whose authority was undisputed among the people of Trans Nzoia, whom he had served diligently.
Like his fore fathers before him, Kapchonge was an Orkoiyot, a prophet, seer, military strategist and elder rolled into one. His office exuded power that engulfed both the high and mighty.
Entrenched in traditions
It is a mystery how the seer and his descendants who are believed to have originated from Somalia had continued to thrive so far away from their original home.
The institution of the Orkoiyot was deeply entrenched in the traditions of the Sabaot people from the days of Matui, who was famous among the Sebei (a sub- clan of the greater Sabaot), which his brother Psongoiywo called “The shots from the Pok side of Mt Elgon.”
His homestead was a preserve for a few and he was only accessed through appointments booked early in advance and the visitors cleared by his front office.
|Silakwa recounts the history of the Orkoiyot. [Photo: Amos Kareithi/Standard]|
The seer had, however, become increasingly unhappy over a neighbour, Chepkoilel arap Cheruiyot who he suspected of belittling his powers although he was just an ordinary man.
The Orkoiyot or Laibon, as Kapchonge was known, decided to test his upstart neighbour by taking a calf and giving it liquor. He then summoned his neighbour and demanded to know why the animal was dazed and staggering.
After scrutinising the calf for a while, Cheruiyot said,” If this calf was a human being, I would say it was drunk; but since animals do not ordinarily partake of alcohol, I do not know what is wrong with it.”