Community

From the chairman’s desk, TEPAD Kenya

Mark Kiprono Ragor
Chairman, Terik Essential Programs Agency for Development (TEPAD, Kenya)

 

The Terik is a Kalenjin speaking group residing mainly in Aldai Division of Nandi South District. Before they were administratively placed under the greater Nandi District in 1963 after Kenya regained Independence , the British colonialists used to administer Terik under the then Kakamega District in Western Province . Their non-Kalenjin neighbours used to call the Terik “Nyangori”. This was a nickname derived from the Luo community, because the Terik, being pastoralists use to invade the Luo areas for pasture during the drought seasons of yonder. On the way back home, the Terik will bring with them cowpeas, a crop known to the Luo people as “ngor”. Hence the name Nyangori was derived from the word “ngor” literarily meaning the people of the cowpeas. Before Kenya’s Independence, the Terik were administered by the British through Chiefs. The first series of Chiefs were Terik from the Kapchepkoi clan. The second series that administered from 1920 to 1939 were however non-Terik and were selected from neighboring tribes. It was during this latter period that the colonial administration began the systematic “cultural cleansing” of the Terik which has directly culminated into the present crisis of their being declared endangered by the International community. During this time, their location, Nyangori, was administratively transferred from Nyanza Province to Western Province instead of to their preferred Rift Valley Province. There was a widespread protest by the Terik and the administration responded punitively. Cultural activities associated with the Terik were banned and outlawed. Terik shrines were desecrated and Terik traditional ceremonies were revoked. Names of many places bearing Terik language were changed or corrupted. As the protest continued, public flogging of Teriks became a common phenomenon throughout Nyangori location-right from Kiboswa in the southwest through Gambogi to Hamisi in the north.

Many Terik people could not stand it. There were two stark choices- either remain and be assimilated to a culture very different from their own or move from their ancestral land and join their Kalenjin cousins in the Rift Valley. Thousands choose to migrate north to Nandi and adopted the language and culture of the Nandi people. The remaining few who stuck to their guns and endured the persecution are the current Terik speaking inhabitants of Kapsengere, Kapkerer and Tambua locations.

It wasn’t until 1961 when Simon Kiptum Arap Choge, a Terik, took over the Chieftainship in Nyangori location that renewed agitation of the Terik identity began in earnest. In a move to have the remaining members of the Terik relocated to Rift Valley Province, Arap Choge and his assistant Kibiegon Arap Mbaria ,led a revolt dubbed “the Ngwan Boriet Kapsengere”. Hundreds were killed and he and others were jailed. However as Kenya Independence day dawned , he was released and succeeded in facilitating the transfer of most areas that the Terik resided to Rift Valley in 1962.

 

The enemy has a new face

With the attainment of Kenya’s independence and Terik restoration of peace with her neighbors, new enemies emerged and warfronts dramatically shifted. Having lost most of their arable land and cattle during their agitation years , poverty and disease descended upon the Terik with vengeance. Unemployment rate soared among the youth and infectious diseases took over the cultural cleansing from where the colonialist left. Among the diseases, HIV/AIDS in particular became a matter of great concern. HIV/AIDS turned Terikland into a killing field. While other Kenyan communities have the safety in numbers that can withstand the plague, Terik do not. A death of one terik is a death of a culture. To make matters worse, a competitive national education system that favours wealthy parents took effect in the 1980’s and began making majority of our youth into school drop-out. This has been followed by a culture of excessive alcohol drinking and drug abuse robbing us of the few that may be the hope of our tomorrow.

It is due to this that we formed TEPAD. TEPAD is a concerted effort involving our elders, professionals, and community leaders to find practical solutions to our predicament. I urge all Teriks and their friends whenever they are to join TEPAD. Call or text our TEPAD program officers at +254 71118584 or +25472034328, email us at terik@mts.net or join our Facebook page TEPAD Kenya and contribute to TEPAD activities.

We had a resolve in 1961. Despite our few numbers we stuck together. I am confident that for the sake of our culture and heritage, a similar resolve shall see us through.

Thank you

 


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