By Amos Kareithi
The story of Kenya’s longest suffering community, the Talai resonates with the history of Jews of Israel who were targeted for extermination by Adolf Hitler’s regime during the Second World War.
A researcher, Bill Ruto, who has conducted lengthy studies of the clan for the last ten years, says the community was a victim of colonial oppression, a violation of their human rights that is actionable.
Ruto has gathered data, which he claims proves that during their days in captivity, 900 people died from extreme weather conditions, diseases and psychological trauma after being uprooted from their homes.
“There has been a misconception that the British administration relocated the Talai so as to seize their land. The reasons were deeper as they did not need to relocate them to steal the land. They wanted to minimise the Talai’s influence among the Kipsigis,” he explains.
The Talai’s resistance to the British occupation was spearheaded by their most illustrious prophet of modern times, Koitalel Arap Samoei, a military genius who harassed the occupation forces for over ten years.
Koitalel had warned the Nandi about the ulterior motives of the visitors and staged a spirited resistance against the British from 1895 to 1905.
During the protracted war, Nandi warriors made it impossible for the construction of the railway.
Historical records show that the British killed Koitalel, after duping him into attending a peace meeting only to be shot in cold blood by captain Richard Meinertzhagen,? who? had been assigned the duty of capturing Koitalel.
In his book, Kenya Diary (1902-1906), Meinertzhagen narrates how he and Koitalel had tried to outwit each other by planting spies and employing black magic.