As Kenyans celebrate candidates who have clinched various political positions through dances, songs and lifting them high, the Kalenjin community has its own way of conducting their celebrations.
Winners are garlanded with special plant around their neck known as ‘sinendet’ (Periploca linearifolia) and fed with mursik (fermented milk) on a gourd as a show of victory. The plant is significant in all the celebrations for instance weddings, negotiation for payment of bride price, rite of passage (circumcision), as well as elections.
According to Nandi elders, the community uses the plant in honoring an individual, for example, the leaders within the community or a person after an excellent performance or victory in a particular event or activity where they wear the plant on their necks.
“Our ancestors identified the plant because it acts as a protector from bad omen. It wards off evil spirits and brings in good tidings, that’s why whenever an individual has conquered in any occasion, they have to be decorated with the plant,” said Joshua Kiptoo, an elder.
The plant is always available in every season whether there is drought or not. It always maintains its green element and is of a length of over 10 meters when stretched. Its flexibility has made it possible to twine and tie the leaves to form a circle without breaking. Due to its relevance in the community, the plant was garlanded on the neck of every political leader who won any seats in the just concluded elections.
Additionally, the roots are known for treatment of a number of diseases such as Diarrhea, Pneumonia among others. Joel Kiptanui, a resident of Emgwen Constituency, noted that no celebrations can take place without the presence of the plant due to its significance to the community.
“The plant is the community’s pride. It’s a symbol of victory because it is ever green and does not wither,” he said.
By Linet Wafula