Kipngetich arap Boisio’s remains discovered 90 years later in Moyale

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From left, Kericho Deputy Governor Susan Kikwai, Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago and Kericho Governor Prof Paul Chepkwony during Kipng’etich arap Boisio’s burial ceremony in Kericho. Photo/Standard

Kipngetich arap Boisio was a son to Kipnyolei arap Turugat, the acclaimed Nandi Orgoiyot. His brothers were Kipchomber arap Koilegen, Koitalel arap Samoei and Singoe Kibuigut.

After many years of hustle, bustle and tussle, the remains of arap Boisio, a veteran freedom fighter and a Talai leader were discovered and reburied on 31st December 2019.  The legend was interred at Momoniat Village at a ceremony presided over by Kericho County Governor, Prof Paul Chepkwony and his Uasin Gishu County counterpart Hon. Jackson Mandago

Upon predicting his death in the 1890s, arap Turugat instructed his sons to leave Nandi land in a bid to save them from the wrath of the Nandi people who were no longer comfortable with his reign as the community Orgoiyot after a series of failed prophecies.

Arap Boisio, Kibuigut and arap Koilegen migrated to Kipsigis land while the last born Koitalel arap Samoei went to Keiyo land. However, Koitalel arap Samoei later returned to Nandi and engaged in a serious battle with the British administration in a protracted uprising that lasted for eleven years. This culminated in his death following a gunshot by Meinertzhagen in 1905.

His brothers, at Kipsigis land, as expected fiercely and furiously resisted the oppressive rule of the British administration. The British were alarmed by the influence the duo had on the locals. Their relentless resistance and the influence on the natives saw their deportation to Nairobi in 1914.

As narrated by the acclaimed Kalenjin historian, Reverend Peter Chemaswet, the three were later taken to different places. Arap Boisio was taken to Nyeri while Kipchomber arap Koilegen taken to Fort hall presently Murang’a County. Their brother Kibuigut was deported to Maua in Meru County.

While in Nyeri, arap Boisio ventured into business and agricultural activities and as fate would have it, he became successful. This enabled him to buy a pick-up truck in 1916. He also bought a house at Pumwani in Nairobi. Arap Boisio is also said to have married three wives one being Muthoni Chemarus who was later with her two sons banished to Gwasi as Talai detainees.

After buying the car, his movement was now easier. This fueled his political influence in Kikuyu land and he became very instrumental in bringing together freedom fighters like Harry Thuku with whom he formed the Kikuyu Central Association in 1922.

Rattled by his immense influence and consummate wisdom, the colonial British administration tracked him down with an intention to deport him further to Moyale, Marsabit County. In November 1929, the British administration deported arap Boisio to Moyale in a secret operation that included only the British senior officials. According to Reverend Chemaswet, while in Moyale, arap Boiso was kept in a filthy dark room that was heavily guarded.

On several occasions, British guards would be astonished to see arap Boisio outside the building. They would ask him how he managed to go past the locked and heavily guarded doors but he always gave them no explanation. This prompted the addition of more locks to his cell but the situation did not change.

History has it is that at one-time arap Boisio went missing albeit the cell locks were not tampered with. The guards raised alarm and a search team was dispatched to trace him. He was apprehended in Ethiopia heading to the far North. When asked where he was going, he said that he was going to see his kin in Ethiopia.

The fact that he was born and brought up in Kenya confused his captors resulting in a serious investigation to find out if at all he had relatives in Ethiopia. They established that he indeed had relatives in Ethiopia. This led to his decapitation in December 1929 to check if his brain was similar to that of other human beings hence. That brought down the life of the legendary leader and dimmed the light of his generation.

Arap Boisio died and was buried in a far place from his home with no one to hold with certainty the whereabouts of his grave. Coincidentally, on 12th Sep 2019, Colonel Kwonyike met with Reverend Chemaswet and Mr. Koyoki former police inspector in Nairobi.

While taking tea, the three started talking about the Talai family. Mr. Koyoki being the main narrator because the three brothers, arap Koilegen, arap Boisio, Kibuigut and arap Samoei are his great grandfathers.

After a long talk, Colonel Kwonyike was given an assignment to trace arap Boisio’s grave with a central aim of giving him a heroic send-off. The task bestowed upon him was to go to Moyale, the last place where arap Boisio had his last breath. Kwonyike’s military life had seen him make diverse connection all over the country hence the task landed on able shoulders.

Without further ado, Col. Kwonyike contacted Col (Rtd) Musa Noor Fatuma Abdirahaman whom he met in Juba South Sudan and Rtd Chief Ali Affey and Sheikh Malinoshar Ajuaye.

Col. Kwonyike said that Sheikh Malinoshar Ajuaye gave him credible and commendable leads to several cemeteries in Moyale and finally to the grave of Arap Boisio.

On 26th Sept 2019, Col. Kwonyike and his new friend, Rev Chemaswet set off for Moyale on a mission to bring the remains of arap Boisio home. They spent their night at Archer’s Post in Samburu County.

The two visited the Sub-County Commissioner Mr. Patrick Mumali the following day and succinctly explained their mission in the far land. Following Sheikh’s lead, they went to a cemetery near Moyale airstrip. The locals instructed them to slaughter a white ram and use its hide to carry whatever they find as the remains but after a series of considerations, they decided to use a white piece of cloth.

The duo pleaded with the late arap Boisio in prayers to show up after series of searches that turned negative. It was during the trying and tiring time that they contacted Mr. Koyoki who in turn asked for the photos of the findings.

Mr. Koyoki contacted Dr. Kitongo who called Col. Kwonyike the following day precisely at 5:30pm telling them to relax their strained muscles after two days of impressive struggle. He told them that the grave on the right as they enter the cemetery belongs to arap Boisio.

Glad to have found the grave, Col. Kwonyike solicited directions from the Talai chairman Mr. Joel Rono who told them to see his relatives in Mount Agaal in Ethiopia. The host initially declined to go to the cemetery but changed his mind and appeared at 3:45pm the following day. The three went to Sheikh’s home for a cup of tea and stories of the search, their hearts full of joy and pregnant expectations.

Rev. Chemaswet narrated during the reburial ceremony that upon touching the stone on the grave of the great arap Boisio an electric shock ran through his body and sign of the cross appeared on the ground depicting the immense power he possessed. The remains were exhumed and taken to Kericho for reburial. At the reburial day, the remains were first wrapped in goat skin and covered with lion skin. 

Prof. Paul Chepkwony applauded the team for their tireless toil and resolve to bring back the remains of the departed Kalenjin hero. He also assured the residents that he will not relent until justice is done to the Kipsigis people and other Kenyans.  

Governor Jackson Mandago thanked the team for the persistence and perseverance demonstrated in finding the whereabouts of the slain hero. He also promised to ensure that the Talai community gets justice.

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