Nandi Hills – County’s Most Historic Town

Koitaleel Samoei Museum - Nandi Hills

Second largest town in the county, Nandi Hills remains to be the most historical home deeply connected with community’s ancient and present day lifestyle of the Nandi People.In the entire Kalenjin tribe, Wikipedia notes that Nandi sub-tribe featured the most brave and strong people of the land. The following are few notable unique features found in Nandi Hills and its close environs.

  The Land of Heroes, Heroines and Champions

Many reknowned leaders came out of Nandi. From Koitaleel Arap Samoei, Jean Marie Seroney, Chelagat Mutai, and Bishop Alexander Kipsang Muge, Barsirian Arap Manyei, Barbarani Arap Turugat etc.

Koitaleel Arap Samoei was a great seer, divine leader. He led Nandis to successful raids and foretold attacks that always resulted in victory.

In recent times, there have emerged new heroes and heroines and Seroney in particular worked tirelessly from as early as 1950 and he believed in education as a key to prosperity. After he came back from India in 1951 he joined KAU and led it to fame with a tour of the Rift Valley alongside Kenya’s first President Jomo Kenyatta before he was imprisoned.

Through his close friendship with Tom Mboya he helped organize the famous ‘Air Lifts’ that sent many Kenyan’s to universities in the United States starting from the late fifties. – Wikipedia.

Koitalel Samoei mausoleum in the CBD is a heroic symbol and a remembrance of late Nandi’s great leader and seer who led without defeat until his death.

Nandi Bear and Nandi Bears Club

N-Hills was noted to be home to the Africa’s biggest strange bear called Nandi Bear – known as Chemosit in local language.

“What the Abominable Snowman is to Asia, or the great Sea Serpent is to the oceans, the Nandi Bear is to Africa. It is one of the most notorious of those legendary beasts which have, so far, eluded capture and the collector’s rifle.”

~ Frank W. Lane

See sighting evidence of Nandi Bear here.

Nandi Bears Club is a golf course, where several annual tournaments are held annually such as the Gill Trophy, the Kenya Ladies’ Golf Union and the prestigious Kenya Breweries Festival of Golf besides rally and cross countries.

  Cradle Land For The Running 

Nandi Hills, is often referred to
as the “cradle land of Kenyan running”. The area is home to many world-renowned athletes, including Kipchoge Keino, Wilson Kipketer, Janeth Jepkosgei, Augustine Choge, Wilfred Bungei, Henry Rono and Mike Boit among others. Our runners championships is believed to be as a result of running and doing regular practice in the hilly places.

Was Immensed With Culture   

There were many cultural practices that were highly done within Nandi Hills including the old sieu that was done in a high cliff in Tabendoi, which literally translates to viewpoint – is a place where the very old people tired of waiting exhaustedly for death which seemed unforthcoming would plunge themselves down the cliff to ease the burden they felt they imposed on their families and community.

Many rituals were performed including appeasing gods, initiation and marriage. Today majority of Nandis are christians and believe in Almighty God.

However, many traditions  (e.g. Kipsuunde – after harvesting ceremony) have been abandoned through civilization and christianity but circumcision still remains communitywide practice.

The Central Battle Field 

Kang’etuny was the mid zone of war between us and the British colonialists. According to Wikipedia, Nandi resistance would stand out for being the longest and most tenacious battle in history of Kalenjin and Nandis in Nandi fought tooth and nail to protect their lands and resources against strangers and external attacks.

On October 19, 1905, on the grounds of what is now Nandi Bears Club (which is in Nandi Hills town, about 200m from the CBD opposite DC offices), Arap Samoei was tricked to meet Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen for a ceasefire but he instead killed Koitalel and his company in cold blood. 

Sosten Saina, grand-nephew of one of Arap Samoei’s bodyguards notes that:

“There were about 22 of them who went for a meeting with the ‘mzungu’ that day. Koitalel Arap Samoei had been advised not to shake hands because if he did, that would give him away as the leader. But he extended his hand and was shot immediately”.

In this town lies his grave in what is now a developing museum.

  Epitome of Nandi 

Nandi as a name that represents 3 key things:

1. The name of the people
2. The name of the place
3. The name of the devolved government – Nandi county.

  Greenest “Empire” 
Spectacular green hills and extensive rolling plain and valleys of tea, forests and crop plantations leaves a fresh and a beautiful green nature. Blessed with two raining seasons, cash crops like tea and sugarcane and subsitence like maize and beans performs well in the rich volcanic soils which makes the area ideal for agriculture. Nandi Hills is known for many tea estates including Nandi Tea Estates LTD, Eastern Produce Kenya, Williamson Tea, Kakuzi and more.


Have additional info? Add more unique features exclusive in Nandi Hills in the Comments below: Have Your Say!

Arise Nandi is an iniative that represents Nandi Community in the online global society, and informs, educate, empowers and advocates for justice to the community that faces land historical injustices from government (title deeds) and foreign-owned tea industries (mystery of lease terms and years).
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11 thoughts on “Nandi Hills – County’s Most Historic Town

  1. I recognize the invaluable contribution which this blog engenders in informing and changing our citizenry. Keep it up.

    However, I would like to make a correction on the famous Nandi Bear ostensibly alluded to as the mythological Chemosit. Indeed, it is “Kerit”. This elusive animal that was endemic to Nandi and environs at the turn of the last century has been driven by agriculture and other emerging developments into the deep forest heartlands of Kenya.

    It has been sited occasionally in the sugarbelt and the forested areas of Tinderet. Could it now be a resident of the Mau ecosystem? Concerted efforts should be made to capture this great animal and conserved in a near-normal ecological environment. I am sure this would be a tourist’s priced animal much beyond the Lion and a candidate for research…in essence ending the cryptology on its existence.


    1. Mario Kibushy, thanks a lot for your observation and commending the invaluable work of Arise Nandi. As an Editor here I appreciate your contribution of knowledge to our history on Nandi Bear. I hope that our ministry of Tourism will find this Nandi’s historic animal and be kept at a tourist attraction site.

      Keep enjoying your readership in this blog.
      Arise Nandi.


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