Talai renews call for justice from UK government

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua (centre) joins Kalenjin elders in dance during Nandi legend Koitalel Arap Samoei's 117 commemoration ceremony at the Nandi Bears Club. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

Over a century ago, freedom hero Koitalel arap Samoei was gunned down by the British.

To date, his descendants have never been compensated nor received an apology.

The death of Queen Elizabeth II in September gave the Talai clan the drive to renew their push for an apology and compensation over Koitalel's killing in 1905.

The clan's representatives say they have prepared enough evidence to pursue justice from the British government.

In October, the Nandi community held Koitalel commemoration at Getbarak in Nandi Hills town, which was attended by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua. The community wants King Charles to offer them an apology. They are also planning to press for a Sh150 billion compensation from Britain for loss of lives, property and displacement to pave the way for tea plantations.

Talai elders and Koitalel descendants are waiting for a meeting Gachagua pledged during Koitalel's commemoration, to chat the way forward in their pursuit of justice.

Koitalel Samoei's commemoration which takes place on the eve of National Mashujaa Day is held annually on October 19, a day Koitalel is said to have been gunned down during a peace truce by Col Richard Meinhertzegen in 1905.

"We held a meeting with Gachagua at Koitalel's shrine prior to the public ceremony that was held at the Bears Club in Nandi Hills. He promised to host us for deliberations in view of the pursuit of justice and we are still waiting," said David Sulo, who chaired the preparations for the commemoration.

Sulo said clan elders approached the DP because he understands their plight, being a son of Mau Mau.

Sulo appealed to local leaders to back the clan's quest to get compensation.

Reverend James Bassy, who chairs the Talai council of elders, said they are still waiting for a word from Gachagua.

"We are optimistic we will soon be called for a meeting by the DP. We are waiting for direction from Nandi Governor Stephen Sang who was also present at the memorial," said Bassy.

Bassy claimed there was no goodwill from local leaders.

"Concerns over injustices meted out to the Talai clan and Nandi community have been raised before the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission. The Senate Committee on Justice toured Kapsisiywa where Talai members live, but we are yet to get justice," Bassy told The Standard.

Talai clan members recently held a meeting at Koitaleel Samoei University College at Mosoriot and where they renewed their demands, including an apology from the British government, return of Koitalel's skull, fly whisk and sandals among other items believed to have been seized and taken to Britain after his killing.


About ten years ago, Koitalel's leadership batons were returned and are being kept at the Koitalel Samoei Mausoleum in Nandi Hills.

John Bii said some of the clan members were born in Tanzania, where their grandparents escaped to.

"We live in abject poverty while farms that belonged to our great grandparents are occupied by multinational tea firms. We have a university named after our hero, but we cannot afford to send our children there," said Bii.

During the Koitalel commemoration, Gachagua assured the Nandi community that the Kenya Kwanza administration will support their pursuit for justice.

"We have agreed with Sang that I will hold a meeting with community elders, the Talai clan and Koitalel's family towards the pursuit of justice. The government will support your efforts. I urge the elders to prepare their documentation and records for deliberations in our meeting," said Gachagua.

Sang and his Kericho counterpart Eric Mutai claimed tea firms were remitting minimal revenues to the counties despite sitting on land where the locals were displaced from.

Koitalel was a Nandi seer who waged an 11-year resistance to colonial invasion before he was killed during a peace meeting in Nandi Hills on October 19, 1905.