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ELECTION 2022

How leaders ride on crazy nicknames for politics

POLITICS
By Nikko Tanui | Apr 21st 2022 | 2 min read

Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony. [Edward Kiplimo Standard].

Besides a great manifesto and aggressive campaign strategies winning any electoral seat in Kericho also a clever monicker.

Almost every politician in the county has a nickname. Some are based on where the politician comes from, profession or just personality traits. Governor Paul Chepkwony tops the list with the most nicknames. The governor, who is serving his second and last term in office, is popularly known as Timbilwet.

He gave himself the nickname after the place he was born within the Unilever tea estate where his grandparents used to live before being evicted by the British colonial government during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. But since the launch of the suit against the British government over the historical injustices, Chepkwony is now popularly known as 'Lezebeth', a Kipsigis mispronunciation of the Queen's name Elizabeth.

The governor often takes the microphone to blame 'Lezebeth' for the atrocities committed against members of the Kalenjin and Talai clan during the Queen's reign. Dr Erick Mutai who is poised to take over the governor's seat from Chepkwony after clinching UDA ticket, also has a nickname. He is known by his nickname; 'Equalizer' after branding himself as the leader who will bridge the gap between the have and have nots in the county.

Senator Aaron Cheruiyot who burst into the political limelight in the 2016 senatorial by-election, initially named himself Kiptoyot Komas Kasit (The guy for the job). But since then, Cheruiyot has branded himself as Simba (Lion) which is his Kipkelesek clan's totem. The nickname also came up after the Senator dared to take on the giant Kenya Tea Development Agency leading to the Tea Act.

It began to stick more after Kipkemoi Kemei, who had dared to take on Cheruiyot for the UDA senatorial ticket, quit the race midway saying he had concluded that there was no need to distract the Deputy President William Ruto's ally from national politics.

The nicknames also cascaded to MP led by Belgut MP Nelson Koech who is widely known as Sonko Teta (The cash cow) due to his flamboyant nature and penchant to dole out money to his supporters.

In Kipkelion West, MP Hillary Koskei,  is known as Nyiganet (The brave one) due to his bullish nature against his opponents. Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) are not left behind either. The most popular of them is Kapsoit's ward representative Paul Chirchir who is known as Tarimbo (metal rod) for his brand of bare-knuckle politics.

But not every nickname has helped, Chemosot MCA William Soi who is popularly known as Avocado due to his physique lost the UDA nomination ticket to an upcoming female politician Anita Biegon.

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