Talai clan elders divided ahead of event to mark Koitalel Samoei's death

David Sulo displays a photo showing a past coronation ceremony in Nandi County. [File, Standard]

Divisions have started to emerge among Talai clan elders over what they say are unfulfilled promises and political exploitation, two weeks to the commemoration of the death of the legendary leader Koitalel arap Samoei.

A ceremony that was set to take place on October 19 now hangs in the balance after one group of elders protested the State's failure to address historical injustices. They accused their colleagues of pretending to champion the community's interests for their own gain.

The Talai clan, said to be descendants of Koitalel who was assassinated in 1905, is now divided into five factions: Kapturgat, Kapsogon, Kapchesang, Kapmararsoi, and Kapsonet families.

David Sulo, a descendant of Koitalel, expressed frustration at being consistently sidelined when seeking justice for historical clan injustices and the return of their great-grandfather's skull, believed to have been taken to Britain.

"We are the grandchildren of Koitalel, but we are not considered in any government initiatives. We are blocked from accessing senior government leaders as some elders solicit job opportunities and money. This has hindered our quest for justice," he said.

This fall out comes barely three months after Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua met with the Talai Council of Elders at Kapsisiywa Mixed Secondary School.

During this meeting, the elders presented various demands, including recognising the Talai as a marginalised group still grappling with the legacy of colonial rule. They also appealed for support in repatriating Koitalel's skull for a dignified burial.

But Mr Sulo argued that the current leaders do not truly represent the Talai clan, as they have not shown a commitment to resolving their issues. He added that those who have benefited are not genuine clan members.

"We normally have a joint meeting that brings together all Talai families, but this time round it will not be business as usual. As the Kapturgat family, we will only gather at the mausoleum in Nandi Hills for prayers and thereafter leave for our homes," said Sulo.

He said they will boycott the ceremony that will be attended by politicians at Bears Club.

But Talai Council of Elders chairman James Bassy said that the commemoration ceremony will proceed as planned, with the national and county governments in attendance.

"Koitalel Samoei was a Nandi leader and the residents were also invited for prayers. The members of the extended Talai clan from Keiyo, Baringo, Uasin Gishu, Bomet, and Kericho will attend. No one has been excluded or locked out of the procession," he said.

Mr Bassy, a retired reverend of the Anglican Church of Kenya, dismissed claims of division among the groups and said that they had received approval to engage with the British government regarding compensation for families affected by colonial rule.

"We were privileged to meet the British High Commissioner to Kenya Neil Wigan, courtesy of Nandi Governor Stephen Sang. He promised to facilitate further engagements with the UK government. We trust we will succeed in getting back the skull and compensation with support of the national government," he said.

During his first visit to Nandi County on Wednesday, Mr Wigan acknowledged the historical ties between Nandi County and Britain and pledged to hold further talks with the elders to address longstanding historical issues.

"The British government will work closely with the community leaders to strengthen economic and social relations. We have agreed that there is a need to address pending issues, and we shall have more consultative meetings with the Talai Council of Elders," he said.

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