The Only Way To Rescue The Lost Language, Culture and People in Kalenjin

Lost Kalenjin Norms & Language

One of my ardent readers from Nairobi recently sent me an e-mail expressing a rescue mission to our own Kalenjin people who do not understand the culture and are almost totally excluded from their roots and the traditional society, not by their own wish to neglect traditions but the influence and lifestyles in towns and cities. 

My fan named Terry – a Keiyo, sent the following email as is:

“Dear Dismas

I came across your website and I wish to commend you for a job well done.

I’m Kalenjin; Keiyo to be specific, and live in Nairobi where I find many Kalenjins of about 40years old and below do not speak the Kalenjin language. As a result, these people do not understand the culture and are almost totally excluded from their roots and the traditional society.

I write to pick your mind on providing language and culture lessons to this segment of our community. These people would like to learn the language in an affordable, accepting and relaxed fashion. Can you for instance provide teachers from ‘home’ who have previously taught Kalenjin language in a structured manner, and who can together draw up a syllabus and a time limited programme that delivers desired result? I can find premises here in Nairobi to facilitate the lessons. I guarantee many will be willing to pay.

Please let me know your thoughts.

Terry ”

This message reminded me a topic I raised in a facebook group (BIKAP NANDI COUNTY) about the alarming rate of Terik extinction! It is a small Kalenjin tribe locked inside luhya and luo territories. My serious concern about Luhyas and Luos taking over terik people was met with nods and shakes of heads in the social media.

Examples of Diminished Tribes

All teriks who typed a comment or more adamantly refused the facts that most of them have spoken luhya language, practiced traditions, married and assimilated luhya.

Teriks have 4 extinct age sets which were Bantaneen, Kaamuny’ar, Tamamut and Antaara.

Furthermore, the name Terik (tribe name) and Terikeek (tribe people) stands challenged by Tiriki tribe which is a luhya groups of immigrants into terik land. 

Terik and Tiriki people groups have tended to refer to the two as one and the same. Yet the Terikeek are Kalenjins while the Tiriki (supposedly teriks who turned into luhya) are a Luhya sub-group of migrants who wanted to identify themselves with the Terik speakers after adopting some of their customs especally the circumcision practice. However since they were bantu and could not clearly pronounce the name Terik without adding a vowel after the consonant ‘k’, they started calling themselves Tiriki.


Consequently, whenever the Tiriki settled in the Terikeek land, they mispronounced and mispelled (and took over the clans) the terikeek names. Thus, Kibsambaay became Gisambayi, Cheebkaay became Jepkoyai, Kiboochi became, Givogi, Taambooyoo became Tambua and Keribwa, became Iriva to mention a few.

As if that’s not enough, Terik have either been misnomerly referred to as Ny’ang’oori, or  there’s is a split of terik people turned into luo/luhya and named themselves Nyang’oori.

My Response to Terry

Dear Terry;

Thank you indeed for your contact. I appreciate you by commending my work about publishing stories about Kalenjins. Once again, I like that you find time in your precious schedule to read my contents. You’ve sincerely given me the courage and power to do even more about US, the Kalenjin! You have really shown express concern about people who have dwelt in the cities and towns and, somehow, “do not speak the Kalenjin language. As a result, these people do not understand the culture and are almost totally excluded from their roots and the traditional society.”

I feel it, and I will definitely feature your message in my next post. Terry, it is very important to provide affordable lessons of our language(s) and culture in order for us to keep our norms and culture moving from one generation to another. Not only will this reinforce our unity but also increase our internal assimilation, and sharing of ideas amongst ourselves.

Based on your concerns, I would like to bring to your attention that “home” teachers who have previously taught Kalenjin lessons with drawn syllabus are very few – and sparse. I had befriended only one Gumbaro (adult) Teacher who taught men and women in Kalenjin language in Tindiret but I am not sure of his whereabouts. We lost contacts. But there’s is hope. I’ll do my homework and let you know in due course.

Keep checking in the blog, sharing and keep the interactions going.



What’s your thoughts?

I think Terry is right on the suggestion that we need teachers with comprehensive syllabus to train language, culture and more to our people, to retain our numbers and norms. Think about politics – We need numbers!


Kipyango’s blog.

In the Comments Box below, submit a thought and/or solution to rescue our lost people

Arise Nandi value your feedback and suggestions


2 thoughts on “The Only Way To Rescue The Lost Language, Culture and People in Kalenjin

  1. Culture makes people understand each other better. And if they understand each other better in their soul, it is easier to overcome the economic and political
    barriers. But first they have to understand that their neighbour is, in the end, just like them, with the same problems, the same questions.
    — Paulo Coelho


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