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Tuitoek rises from herder, teacher, chief, author and development crusader

When the young Richard Tuitoek sat for his Kenya African Preliminary Examination (KAPE) in November 1962 at Kituro Intermediate School and passed well, he had an intense inspiration to go up the echelons of education.

To realize his burning dream, Tuitoek, 83, immediately joined St Joseph’s Teachers Training College, Kitale (1963-1964), where he graduated as a P3 teacher.

 “Before I joined teacher’s college through the influence of Kituro parish priest, I had thought of becoming a priest. But I dropped the idea because I felt I could not leave my two sisters and one brother since they were still small and my mother had died. The boy and two sisters were yet to go to school,” he narrates.

In college, he actively participated in many outdoor activities which included concerts, debates, volleyball, football and sports especially long jump, shotput and relays. Because of his talent prowess, he was chosen as Assistant Games Captain.

Dr. Richard Tuitoek addressing KNA in his book store housed at his Salawa Riverside shopping centre, Baringo Central, doubling as a private office. Photos by Vincent Miningwo.

It is while in college that Catholic Patrician saints, running the institution, spotted a potential leader in the making destined for greater things. Upon graduation, Tuitoek, was immediately employed and posted to Salawa primary school in his home area of Salawa not as a classroom teacher, but headmaster in 1965, where his leadership journey began.

A transformational journey he has been for the past 58 years, a burning motivation to elevate his community from poverty to self-empowerment.

The teacher who left the classroom after 15 years of exemplary performance to join provincial administration has earned several awards from the state and international institutions.

“I left the classroom after village elders from this area approached me to apply for the position of chief which had arisen when Kabarnet location was split into two, Kabarnet Mosop and Kabarnet Soi. Development was poor and people were engaging in excessive drinking of busaa and changaa,” says the father of two engineers, senior lady principals and local assistant chief.

Among his awards include honorary degree-PHD by the University of America (2019) in recognition for his good and exemplar leadership, Head of State Commendation (HSC) (2009) by President Mwai Kibaki for being a good servant of the people.

Tuitoek has backed several other accolades like certificate of Recognition (C.O.R) as a National Hero (2019) by President Uhuru Kenyatta for diligent and distinguished services to the government, the community and to self and another certificate of recognition (C.O.R) by governor Benjamin Cheboi (2016) for his exemplary leadership among many others.

“As a teacher I improved the academic and outdoor activities to very high standards of the three schools I taught and headed in Baringo district, that is, Salawa, Kabartonjo, and Marigat (1965-1980) and Jamuhuri and Uhuru primary schools in Nakuru municipality, “he passionately states.

While a teacher in Marigat, Dr Tuitoek states, he established a boarding wing at Marigat primary school for boys and also started Marigat secondary where he became the first head teacher.

Tuitoek, an accomplished author, who left civil service in 1995 after attaining the grade of senior chief, has written eight books under his name.

“I have authored a number of books for all to read and learn something. Some of the notable books include a book about my family lineage (1974), the 50-year development plan book for Salawa Division, Baringo County (1981), The Tugen Community (2010), The Youth and Beyond (2013), Supplementary Exercises for Junior English Readers (2019) and Colonization and Liberation of Africa (2017),” Dr Tuitoek enumerates.

When the government sub-divided Kabarnet location into two; Kabarnet Mosop and Kabarnet soi, Dr Tuitoek says he applied for the position of chief in Kabarnet location, where upon being interviewed, he emerged the top among over ten applicants.

By the time of assuming the new role, he was undertaking several charitable projects and activities like sponsoring four children from needy families from the area thus he continued in establishing new institutions in the area.

Former Senior Chief Dr. Richard Tuitoek explaining to KNA officers Salawa Baraza Park Pavilion which he personally initiated and funded at a cost of Sh 184, 000. The two-acre facility is fitted with permanent seats and has a seating capacity of 600 people.

“Under my 15-year tenure as a Chief, I have done a lot of development majorly in the education sector because I was a teacher. I built 14 new primaries and five secondary schools as well as improving the agriculture and livestock sectors and our farmers were very happy because they could plant their seeds at the right time thus a bumper harvest and hunger in our area stopped up to now,” Mzee Tuitoek says.

He donated his three pieces of land which was set aside for establishment of a dam, a dispensary and a church whereby he used his personal money to ensure the lands had title deeds registered under respective facilities.

Mzee Tuitoek guided by a 50-year development vision plan for 1981-2030, in one of his authored books said he would team up with Locational Development committees (LDC) to accomplish the projects spread across all the four locations in the division.

Among other notable contributions in society by Mzee Tuitoek who is also the vice chairman of Tugen Council of Elders includes his participation in land adjudication which he assisted in dispensing without recurrence of complaints or disputes.

After sitting with local leaders and wananchi in the demarcation of three adjudication units of Salawa, Kiboino and Kisok, Dr Tuitoek says the community was able to set aside lands for establishment of more public utilities including 140-acre land for a university plus more land for new schools, an airstrip and a state-of-the art stadia that already has eight acres reserved for it.

Another notable landmark achievement by Mzee Tuitoek is establishment of a unique permanent Baraza Park Pavilion in Salawa shopping centre with permanent seats accommodating up to 600 people. The two-acre facility which he believes is the only one of the kind in Kenya’s rural setting is connected with electricity besides other vital facilities like lavatory and resting shades.

The facility, with numerous scripted motivational messages, has over ten car spaces, a toilet; the entire facility is enclosed in barbed wire alongside a live fence put up at a cost of Sh 184, 000 generated from his personal savings. The facility provides a serene environment for residents and visitors who are allowed to use it free-of-charge.

Mzee Tuitoek divulged that out of his own initiative and the passion to develop his community, he has spent over Sh 2 million.

Asked the philanthropist why he has spent millions of personal and family money on voluntary work, he says “Service to humanity is service to God. I did all these while still in public service after exiting service because of the love for my community, desire for development, good will for the future generations and a good example as a leader,” a passionate Tuitoek explains.

The retired chief advised the local community to keep a thorough vigilance over the identified public utilities and resist any encroachment by land grabbers noting that the facilities are vital for it will accommodate the needs of the area’s rapidly growing population.

The author who has opened a book store in Salawa shopping centre which doubles up as his office, says his desire is to see everybody prosper in the society and live a better life far from the struggles he underwent in his early life.

He has challenged all public servants to be visionary people in their service and show competences in leadership for Wananchi to feel their impact.

 By Joshua Kibet and Benson Kelio

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