Deprived of their spiritual leaders and still reeling from the shock of the detention of their leaders, the British colonialists delivered a sucker punch when it rounded up all the Talai clan members in Nandi and confined them in a concentration camp in 1920s.
The remaining Talai clan members, numbering about 110 families, were rounded up in 1934 after the British security agencies allegedly seized some weapons, which had been stolen by some of the Talai military recruits who had participated in the First World War.
“We were worse than prisoners. Prisoners in a conventional jail knew their crime and their verdict. In our case we were all guilty of crimes we were never tried. To majority of the Talai, the sentence has been a lifetime of agony and deprivation.” Sigilai explained.
At Gwassi those who attempted to travel back to their ancestral land were rounded up and charged like common criminals and sentenced to six months in jail.
They all died in detention, which paved the way for the British to execute their plan of removing the entire clan from their ancestral land so that they could grow tea.
The frustrations and bewilderment of Kenyans over the plight of the Talai are captured by a letter authored by one brave policeman, Ndoigo Titilei who breached protocol and attempted to write to Baraza, a Kiswahili newspaper in 1944.
He wondered what crime the entire Talai community had committed to deserve a collective jail term saying the area they had been taken to was uninhabitable while their livestock was being wiped out by disease.
Regardless of whatever crimes they had committed, the police officer in the letter, which was intercepted by his District commissioner and forwarded to the Nyanza PC observed that for ten years, no youth had been allowed to marry.
On November 14, 1945, ten years after the translocation, Kericho DC, telegrammed his boss the Nyanza Provincial Commissioner about the fate of the Talai clan and what he thought was the final solution.
“In all respect I think we should face up to the fact that we should concentrate on the children and as brutal as it may seem, leave the old men to die out gradually. If we do this the area around the township should be sufficient. I have no sympathy for the old age grade who made life so difficult for the government in the past,” the administrator wrote.”
This telegram confirms the government policy at the time, which was to allow some of the young men and women to return from Gwassi, but were not allowed to interact freely with the other residents of Kericho.