Kenyan History.War with the Kalenjins

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Kenyan History.War with the Kalenjins

Post by kim » Fri Jul 06, 2018 9:11 am

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Sunday history 1890s

Around 1900, before railway reached Kisumu, transportation of goods and mail from Western Kenya and Uganda was carried out in sections.Convoys of carts left Kisumu and proceeded to Kibigori . The loads were then carried by porters up an ascent of 2000 feet to the top of the Nandi escarpment, where there was a fixed depot called Kambi ya ishirini.From there, bullock carts ferried the loads to Nandi depot where they were loaded on Ox cart for Nakuru rail-head via Eldama Ravine.One fateful morning a convoy consisting of twenty ox carts, police escort and two passengers, one a Greek trader and the other a Government clerk of Eurasian origin was ambushed by Nandi warriors immediately after leaving Kambi ya Ishirini.The warriors slaughtered everbody, looted all the loads and destroyed the carts. News of this tragic occurence was conveyed to CW Hobbley, the administrator of Kavirondo by messengers who ran down from Nandi depot to Kisumu via Nyando Valley.

Coincidentally, a convoy of carts laden with coast-bound mail had arrived in Kisumu from Uganda and was preparing to continue with its journey to Mombasa when the messengers arrived.To avoid the hostile route, Hobbley despatched it by way of the Nyando Valley which didn't touch the Nandi territory but skirted it.He also organised a group of twenty five fully armed sudanese soldiers to escort the convoy and gave them enough ammunition.Unfortunately the Nandi spotted this convoy from a distance and mounted a very strong ambush at Mnara near Muhoroni. The whole party including the Sudanese soldiers was slaughtered except for two small boys who were following the convoy.The cargo was looted, and a few weeks later, letters and hundreds of cheques were found strewn about over a mile from the scene of the disaster.The PC could do nothing except to wait for a Battalion of Indian Army under Colonel Evatt which was on its way. The transport of the Indian Army to the Nandi territory was facilitated by Chief Odera Olalo of Gem in Siaya who provided hundreds of young men to act as porters and personally travelled to Nandi to ensure none of them deserted.
However, Hobbley regretted that Chief Olalo was not appreciated despite his great assistance. "His splendid response, I regret to say, was but little appreciated by the head-quarter staff, and the treatment accorded to him was very inconsiderate," he wrote .Since it was believed that no concerted attack by the Nandi could occur without the blessing of Koitalel Arap Samoei, a column of soldiers was organised to raid his home.
The soldiers led by the PC left their camp just before midnight and began making their way to the Koitalel's homestead. Soaked through with dew from the bush they reached a point at dawn where they could see the homestead at a distance.Because Koitalels hut was located across a valley, he could also see anybody approaching his homestead from a distance, and by the time the party stormed his homestead, he had already melted into the bush together with his warriors.

From the recesses of one of his hut the soldiers unearthed relics of old raids among them the diary and various belongings of Peter West who had been massacred by the Nandi some years before.

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