In 1919, a man named Arap Moi (nothing associated with the former president) walked from Mutei to Karonai, to visit his son Chesire, who worked as a horse trainer for Mr. Right, a colonial settler. At that time, girls were about to be released from seclusion and he was immediately fascinated by a girl, who led the group in singing and who had the loveliest beaded leather skirt. Arap Moi searched for the girl’s father Kipkigey, and gave him a pouch of tobacco, telling him that this girl had to be wedded to his son. Arap Moi walked back to Mutei, and got seriously sick. Before dying, he told his family that he had reserved a daughter for his son Chesire.

After his funeral, people were sent to Karonai to search for this daughter. They found the mother Kabon who was immediately distressed that her daughter had to move to Mutei, which she felt was too dry and had insufficient pasture. Besides, her daughter was the eldest child and it pained that they had to be soon separated. Kipkigey agreed with the proposed marriage though, and the wedding happened. The daughter, Kimoi, moved to Mutei, where she promptly got pregnant but suffered a miscarriage. She subsequently got pregnant three times again, but lost all these babies during childbirth.

Kipkigey was furious, saying Chesire’s family was cursed, and demanded his daughter back. Kimoi and Chesire consulted an orkoiyot to end their despair and were told to walk till they had crossed four rivers, then find a place to settle. That place was Sergoit where Kimoi’s daughter Chesiny was born in 1926. Kimoi, following the instruction of the orkoiyot placed Chesiny inside an empty hyena’s den and asked the hyenas to talk to death and have it spare her daughter.

Chesiny is still here today, and is my eldest aunt. Kimoi, on the other hand, passed on just three years after I was born. My memory of her is hazy. I just see an old woman on a stool, who was wrapped in a yellow leso and had black rubber shoes that stepped softly on the grass.

Mum tells me that Kimoi was so happy when I was born, and came to hospital with millet. She sprinkled the millet and on my forehead then squeezed my cheeks saying, “You are the heart of my youngest daughter. You are the reason I have lived this long.”