GIVEN SYMBOLS OF POWER

DP Ruto installed as Ilchamus elder, promised 2022 support

Twenty of the 46 members of the Ilchamus Council of Elders co-opts the DP into the community's top decision-making organ

In Summary

• The marginalised community says it has suffered for about three decades in the opposition until Ruto came to their rescue.

• He was swaddled in a Maasai shuka and handed a beaded club and a long black stick.

DP William Ruto is installed as an Ilchamus elder beside Amos Olempaka during a traditional wedding at Ngambo in Baringo South on Saturday
DP William Ruto is installed as an Ilchamus elder beside Amos Olempaka during a traditional wedding at Ngambo in Baringo South on Saturday
Image: JOSEPH KANGOGO

Deputy President William Ruto is now an Ilchamus elder.

He was installed on Saturday during a traditional wedding ceremony for one of his appointees, Amos Olempaka, in Ng’ambo, Baringo South. Ruto was the chief guest as Olempaka wedded Maria. 

The community also pledged full support for the DP's 2022 presidential bid. Ilchamus elders said they will not regret their decision to support Ruto's presidential ambitions. "Even if he will lead us to the Opposition, let it be," Lemekuran said.

Twenty of the 46 members of the Ilchamus Council of Elders co-opted the DP into the community's top decision-making body. He sat on a special wooden stool beside the newlyweds. He was then swaddled in a Maasai shuka and handed a beaded club and a long black stick. 

"This is a very special award and anointment given so rarely to the chosen few who are headed to lead this country," Mzee Philiph Ledida said.

The stick, stool and club are their symbols of power. Ruto was instructed never to let anybody touch or use the items. He will keep them "until he retires from power, then he can choose to hand over any of them to his eldest son or anybody else".

"This is the second award we are handing over. We gave the first one a long time ago to retired President Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi and today we have chosen to give it to Ruto," Ledida said.

Ledida was backed by other elders, including John Lesaningo, Kanyaman Lemekuran and John Lenchiling.

DP William Ruto is given instructions after being installed as an Ilchamus elder at Ngambo, Baringo South, on Saturday
DP William Ruto is given instructions after being installed as an Ilchamus elder at Ngambo, Baringo South, on Saturday
Image: JOSEPH KANGOGO

He said the community had, for a long time, suffered a myriad of problems in the Opposition, among them insecurity and hunger, until Ruto came to "our rescue" and appointed "our son Olempaka", to head the marginalised communities docket under his office.

"We'll not forgive easily the former Prime Minister and ODM leader Raila Odinga for wasting our son Olempaka for many years without slotting him any opportunity to serve in government," Mzee Ledida said.

He said they heeded the request Ruto made last year ahead of the Baringo South MP by-election that Olempaka, then an aspirant, steps down for Charles Kamuren, who went on to win the race. The poll followed the death of Grace Kipchoim, who won in 2017. Grace died of colon cancer in April last year.

"Thereafter, Ruto himself became honest enough to honour his pledge by appointing our own to a government position, which we have never tasted for close to three decades," Ledida said.

Other leaders present included Baringo Governor Stanley Kiptis, Deputy Governor Jacob Chepkwony, Kamuren, William Cheptumo (Baringo North), Ben Washiali (Mumias East), Florence Jematia (East African Legislative Assembly), Water CS Simon Chelugui and former NHIF boss Simeon ole Kirgotty.

Residents raised concerns over hunger and insecurity due to frequent droughts and bandit attacks.

"Our major challenge is the obnoxious overgrown Prosopis Juliflora-Mathenge weed. We call on the government to allow our local communities to cut and use it economically for charcoal burning," Kamuren said.

DP William Ruto is installed as an Ilchamus elder beside Amos Olempaka during a traditional wedding at Ngambo in Baringo South on Saturday
DP William Ruto is installed as an Ilchamus elder beside Amos Olempaka during a traditional wedding at Ngambo in Baringo South on Saturday
Image: JOSEPH KANGOGO

Ruto said the Mathenge problem is being discussed in Parliament and a solution will be found. He urged Kiptis to follow it up. The DP said he did not attend the wedding in his capacity as the country's second in command but as a parent, friend and counsellor of the couple.

"This is the only way to go. Future generations are made in no other way than through marriage," he said.

The Ilchamus is a marginalised pastoralist community occupying several villages in Baringo South in areas such as Kiserian, Ng’ambo, Sirata, Sintaan, Meisori, Eldume, Mukutani and Lokumkum near Marigat town.

Baringo county is predominantly occupied by the Tugen and Pokot communities. Other subcounties are Baringo North, Mogotio, Baringo Central, Eldama-Ravine, and Tiaty.

(Edited by F'Orieny)