Video Lecture: Kiotalel’s Kin – Identity, Autochthony and the Occult in Kenya’s Western Highlands

By Prof. David Anderson (CRC Project A02 Past Futures)

In this presentation given at the University in Nairobi in late 2023, David Anderson focuses on Kimnyole Kopitalel Arap Samoei, the Nandi orkoiyot (Occult Leader) who led his people in their fight against British Colonial conquest, only to be treacherously shot while under a flag of truce. Samole stands out among the pantheon of Kenyan’s heroes of early colonial resistance and his influence, through his kin (the current orkoiik),among the Kalenjin has stood the test of time. Anderson argues that the wider history of the orkoiik remains a Kalenjin concern that is not much understood beyond Kenya’s Western Highlands. This presentation highlights significant themes in that history, positioning it at the centre of Kenya’s colonial and post-colonial experience. The trajectory of this history links the pre-colonial past of the early nineteenth century to the present, emphasizing the continuing importance of the cultural practice and belief but also indicating how these evolve and develop over time.

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