86 year old man, Mzee Simon Kiplangat arap Mitting is among the first people in Bureti to distinguish himself as a hero and a “Shujaa” by serving this Country in various capacities.
Mzee Mitting served as a Kenya African Rifles (KAR) soldier and a leading farmer in Bureti now presently the Kericho County.
Mzee arap Mitting who belongs to the ‘Sawe’ age set group in the Kispsigis community was the first black farmer to plant tea in Bureti in early 1950’s when the crop was tightly under the white man and the only cash crop for export and no black man was allowed to plant the crop.
He broke the record to have a tea plantation in his farm in Mabwain village in Kapsogut location.
The old man says he had to work in the night and evenings to establish tea nurseries and ensure that the cash crop germinates and was well taken care.
This included proper weeding and keeping them well supplied with fertilizers and practicing good proper ways of tea plucking in good time to avoid overgrown tea bushes.
Mitting who belongs to Kaparangwek clan now uses a wheel chair to move owing to a knee problem.
He was born in 1932 and started his school in the early 1940’s where he did his primary education at Kapsogut, Chepwagan and presently Cheborge primary school.
He joined the army in 1950 after being recruited into the KAR army at Kapkatet stadium with the help of the late senior Chief Kipsang arap Tengecha who had cited his prowess in athletics where he led in long distance race around the field during the recruitment exercise by the Queen of England KAR army personnel.
He says that he was among the about 50 young energetic fresh men from the then Bureti Location which was under the jurisdiction of the late legendary Kipsang arap Tengecha the grandfather of the sitting member of parliament Japheth Mutai Kiptergech.
He remembers vividly the day how he emerged the winner of the long race and was spotted by arap Tengecha who called out that he is picked and placed in the list of those who had qualified for the KAR army.
He says that his other friends in the army that had been recruited to KAR earlier than him in late 1938 like Mzee Mochi arap Telle and Stephen arap Soi from his village fought in the second world war of the year 1939 to 1941.
He said that after he joined the army in early 1950 and went through an eight month training on how to handle a gun and other military artillery arsenals at present Lanet army barracks.
He fought alongside the British army in a bid to contain the Mau Mau uprising which was against the white rule in 1952 during the emergency.
Their service in the KAR army ended after the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth agreed to enter into an agreement to give power to the blacks led by the late Jomo Kenyatta.
The Shujaa also served a short stint as a clerk at Monire tea farm in Sotik high lands.
Mitting who is a father of several children including Eldon Langat a lecturer at Kabarak University says that he later joined the Kabianga Famers Training College,(FTC), presently Kabianga University where he learnt among other things Animal Husbandry and crops management after serving in the army for four years.
He says he used the earnings and proceeds from the army to buy a 10 acre piece of land in Ogilgei farm in Nakuru which he later exchanged the same with four acres of land at Kapsogut with his brother.
He also bought one cow they named ‘Kebei’ that sired many calves that he used to pay for his bride price in form of cows in 1960.
Grace Mitting his wife says that her husband who is a teetotaler has been active the entire span of his life and got never tired or complained of work but was always away from home working to get money to educate his children and improve on their farming activities.
Mitting who won several awards in Zero grazing and Tea farming activities in the region, also sought employment as a guard at the Sotik highlands tea estates where he served as a guard in the tea estate where Mr. Laboso, the father of the Bomet Governor Dr Joyce Laboso was serving as the estates manager.
For the love of education Mzee Mitting served as Kapsogut primary school committee now the Schools BoM this is demonstrated by the education he gave his children.
Among these children is Mr.Eric Langat who is a secondary school head teacher at Kinyagora high school in Bomet, Kimutai Ronald being an instructor at Chemosot polytechnic.
Hassan Langat one of his sons who now takes care of his aging father is a prominent farmer at home.
Mzee Mitting served as a Chair of Kapsogut Tea Buying center T.T. 11.
He has advice and caution for the present youth.
He says that they should seize prevailing opportunities by using the education their parents had given them to make their future even better instead of idling and immersing themselves in illicit brews consumption.
He says that the youth should not complain of luck of opportunities but they should lower their expectations and start from what they have in order to attain what they want.
Kapsogut location assistant Chief Mr Charles Korir hails the Shujaa Mzee arap Mitting for being a role model who encouraged the area residents to educate their children and improve on their farming activities.
He said Mzee Mitting is a good adviser and a peace maker in the area.
By Dominic Cheres