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Jeremiah Kigen the headman who rubbed up Brits the wrong way

Rift Valley

Jeremiah Kigen Mosop arap Chemirmir, died without being recognised by the government. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

With a bounty of Sh250 offered by the British colonialists for his capture after engaging in a fierce fight with one of them, he opted to lead a silent life upon his return from prison.

Despite his soul departing, the liberation hero, Jeremiah Kigen Mosop arap Chemirmir, died without being recognised by the government.

The man, who kept an array of documents that date between 1940 and 1950s, was laid to rest in a commemorative send-off in Elgeyo Marakwet on Saturday.

According to his family, Chemirmir died on January 13 and was the remaining member of the age set known as Maina in the Keiyo community.

His grandson, Festus Kigen, said his grandfather become depressed after his two sons died in a span of one week in September 2017.

“He (Chemirmir) became stressed after his two sons died. He refused to eat for two weeks and has been surviving on tea and bread since then,” said Kigen.

Family and friends eulogised him as a strict disciplinarian, who loved education, a passion evidenced by his decision to donate acres of land for the establishment of Simotwo Secondary school. 

Family records indicate that late Chemirmir’s life took a turn after the construction of the Kenya-Uganda Railway was halted following the First World War.


The burial of Jeremiah Kigen Mosop arap Chemirmir at his Kamwosor village in Keiyo South, Elgeyo Marakwet County. January 29, 2022. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

He lost his job and due to pressure to pay poll and hut taxes to the colonial government, Chemirmir and some of his age mates, who were taking part in the construction of the railway line, resorted to cattle raids.

European settler farms were not spared in the raids and Chemirmir and a number of his age set members were captured and jailed at the Kamiti Maximum Prison between 1925 to 1932.

Chemirmir’s niece Monica Chebii narrated that after his release, Chemirmir went to Tambach around 1934, where he was recruited as a police officer and a mail runner (a messenger). “He went to Tambach in 1934 at the age of 37 years, where he was recruited as a police officer and a mail runner,” the family noted.

Chemirmir at some point, engaged in a fierce physical fight with a European settler in Uasin Gishu, leading to the colonial government offering a bounty of Sh250 for his capture.

He was later captured and taken to Kamiti Maximum Prison. Upon his return from prison, he was appointed chief by the British as one way of containing him. He had lost the police job after he was linked with cattle raids.

“His second jail term was in 1941 at Simotwo after he was found guilty of cattle raids and engaging in serious ?ght with the mzungus. He was jailed for two years, and after his release, he was appointed headman of Tumeiyo London, a position he served until his retirement in 1963,” the records say.

His three wives Tapartwol, Tapkigen and Taptuei died more than three decades ago.

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