Political feature analysis By Leo Odera Omolo
POLITICAL power brokerage has always been the major cause of discomfort among members of the larger Kalenjin community ever since early 1960s
The practice got heightened during the early part of the reign of the retired president Daniel Arap Moi in early 1980s and immediately after the latter’ accession to power and in 1978 following the death of the founding president Jomo Kenyatta on August 22, 1978.
These political brokers become part of life particularly among the residents of the South and North Rift especially among the Kipsigis and Nandi sub – tribes.
It becomes the source of discontent and instability among the members of the most populous Kipsigis sub-tribe .This is the most populous sub-tribe of the larger Kalenjin ethnic groups.
There was one time when emerged one by name of Isaak Kipkorir Salat a former junior clerk with one of the multinational tea companies operating in Kericho and Bomet Districts .
At first he become the brief case carrier of Moi when the latter was serving in the post – independence cabinet as the vice President and minister for Home affairs another person to emerge as the political power broker during Moi’s time was the former Belgut MP Ayub Chepkwony who happens to be related to Moi by marriage – After Chepkwony then emerged another political broker in the region in the name of Prof. Jonathan Ngulalu Arap Ng’eno while during the same period of time in the North Rift emerge one Mark Kiotarbei Arap Too in Uasin Gishu and Nan district In the same region also emerged the former soldier Ezekiel Bargetuny as another powerful political broker also in Nandi and Uasin Gishu regions
Anyone who rubbed shoulder the wrong way with these gentlemen was in for big trouble .The four had entrenched themselves in the Moi KANU regime and were the one calling shots in almost every political issue affecting the Kipsigis and the Nandi communities
One memorable act committed by Salat was when the Moi regime had envisaged a multimillion shilling plan to have the LondieniKikellion, Muhoroni and Kisumu road termacked . The road if constructed could have cut down the Kisumu-Nairobi by distant nearly close to 40 kilometers short.
The project was designed to branch off at Londiani junction on the main Nakuru- Kericho road at Londiani and traverse through this agricultural region through Kipkelion Railway station, Chulwa , Kenya all, Fort –Tennan , Koru Muhoroni and to link up with Kericho – Kisumu road at Awasi.
Acting at the behest of Kericho town wealthy Indian traders Salat publicly advised President Moi in a public address that the road was not viable and would be a waste of money because the road project would only benefit the Luos of Nyanza who were in opposition to the KANU government.
The project was abandoned and never saw the light of the day.Salat won Bomet parliamentary seat in the 1974 general elections and was appointed by Moi to be an Assistant Minister in the office of the President.
In the 1979 Moi called for snap elections .This time around salat and Prof Ngeno had decided that early , Kipsigis nationalist Dr Taaitta Araap Toweett who had featured prominently during the struggle for independence must vacatehis Buret parliamentary seat and go home. Dr. Arap Toweett who was then the Minister for Education, and perhaps the best Education Minister Kenya has ever had must go Toweet twas then the KANU MP for Ruret.
Moi went to Kapkatet an area which is the heart-beat of the Kipsigis politics and to surprise and shock of the mammoth crowd made an announcement that it was time for Taweett to rest or to vacate the Buret Seat and pave the way for a new blood .Moi told Dr. Tawett in his face to have a rest Inspire of the loud murmuring of disapproval by the huge crowd in attendance at the rally.Moi went and stood his ground. Toweett who looked shocked and disappointed reluctantly accepted the verdict and went home and quietly went home a disappointed man.
Prof Ngeno who was by then working for the Nakuru Millers a company asociated with Moi got the KANU ticket and was elected the new Buret MP and consequently appointed the new Education Minster in place of Dr. Towett though he performed dismally and was later relegated to the Housing Ministry
However, Prof Ngeno did not last longer in the seat. In the response to the protest of the elected as the treatment meted out on Toweet Moi later half heatedly made him a nominated MP. It is indeed imperative to remember that Moi and Toweett were age-mates, and there was no way theother became tired while the latter was still going strong snd serving as the head of state. Therefore Moi’s reasoning for the removal of Toweett from his job was irrelevant in this case.
Ngeno was himself in 1983 kicked out of the Parliament and in his place came the farmer Kapsabet Resident Magistrate. Timothy Arap Mibe an ex school teacher t Getarwet primary School who was later trained as a lawyer at the Dar Es Salaam University. At the time around Salat was gradually phased out and then emerged Ayut Chepkurony the Belgut MP who was made an Assistant Minister for Housing. Chepkwony was related to Moi by marriage .He was the husband of the younger sister to Mrs Lena Moi
Meanwhile Mibei who served in the cabinet briefly as the Minister for Works was hounded out of the Buret seat paving the way for for the return of Prof Ngeno in who later represented the constituency until in 1992 when he was he was beaten hands down by the former Tengecha High school’s principal Paul Arap Sang (Chamian Buch)
It was during the late 1997 when Donald Kepkamoe Arap Kones emerged as the most powerful politician and a power broker in Kipsigis and after winning the Bomet parliamentary seat and Kones was appointed by Moi as the minister of state in the office of the president.
Kones emergence saw Ayub hepkw being phased out. Kones and Moi parted the compnay and this gave the way for the return of Ngeno his cousins. Both Kones and Prof Ngeno were member of the Kapecherek sub-clan meaning the people with mixed of Kalenjin – Kisi blood.
As for now a Kericho Senatr Charles KETER who is a political associate DP William Ruto HAS Emerged as NEW power broker in Kipsigis land to the chagrins of the elected leaders of Kericho and Bomet Counties.Keter’ is allegedly openly displaying his dislike and hatred of the two governors, namely isaak Ruto of Bomet and Prof. Paul Chepkwony.
Like the late Kones who with others who were reported to have financed and fed the now infamous Kalenjin Warriors of the 1992-1997 launched simultaneous armed attack against the Luos, Kisiis and Luhyias because these communities were in opposition to the Nyayo KANU regime of Moi. Keter recently faced scathing criticism from the Nyakah MP Aduma Owuor who linked him to the recent out break of tribal skirmishes between theLuos and the Kipsigis along the Kericho-Nyakach borders. Which left six uos dead and close to 50 houses set ablaze destroying property worth millions of shillings.
THe Kericho Senator, however, has yet to come out with the convincing reasons of innocence to the problem,and has only rudely challenged the Nyach MP to make his allegations in report to the police.
POLITICAL RIPPLES IN THE REGION
Other known power broker had a group her during Moi’s 24 years president included Mark Mark Kiptarbei Arap Too Ezekiel Bargetuny also in Nandi and Hosea Kiplagat in Baringo,Nicholas Kiprono Kipyator Biwott who was acting as the principal political strategist of all the time during Mois 24 years presidency and was credited of all and was credited to have been the highly educated power broker in rule the North Rift where other were semi literate outfit.