Nandi County is in the North Rift of Kenya, occupying an area of 2,884.4 square kilometres. Its capital, Kapsabet, is the largest town in the county while other towns include Mosoriot, Kaiboi, Kabiyet and Nandi Hills. According to a 2019 census, the county had a population of 885,711, made up of a number of Kenyan communities, the majority of whom belong to the native tribe called Nandi.
Geographically, the unique jug-shaped structure of Nandi County is bound by the Equator to the south and extends northwards to latitude 0034’N. The western boundary extends to west. The county’s major area is covered by the Nandi Hills.
Historically, Nandi like other Kalenjin areas was divided into districts known as emotinwek (sing. emet). There were six emotinwek in Nandi which were Wareñg in the north, Mosop in the East, Soiin (also known as Pelkut) in the south-east, Aldai and Chesumei in the west and Em’gwen in the center .
The districts were further divided into divisions known as bororiōsiek (sing. bororiet) which were made up of several villages known as koret.
The traditional Nandi account is that the first settlers in Nandi came from Elgon and formed the Kipoiis clan; a name that possibly means ‘the spirits’. They were led by a man named Kakipoch, founder of the Nandi section of the Kalenjin and are said to have settled in the emet of Aldai in south-western Nandi. One of the early Nandi bororiōsiek was named after Kakipoch.
Studies of the settlement pattern indicate that the southern regions were the first to be settled. As of 1910, these comprised the emet of Aldai on the west and the, by then annexed, emet of Soiin on the east. It was conjectured that the first pororiosiek were Kakipoch in Aldai and Tuken in Soiin.
It is notable that Sirikwa holes (known to the Nandi as mukowanisiek) were almost non-existent in the areas first settled, being only present on the Nandi escarpment itself. They were however found in great numbers in the northern regions of Nandi.
Inward migrants and general population growth are thought to have led to a northward expansion of the growing identity during the eighteenth century. This period is thought to have seen the occupation and establishment of the emotinwek of Chesume, Emgwen and Masop. This period would also have seen the establishment of more pororosiek.
The final expansion occurred during the middle of the nineteenth century when the Nandi took the Uain Gishu plateau from the Uasin Gishu. Traditions contained in the tale of Tapkendi however seem to indicate that the plateau was previously held by the Nandi and that Nandi place names were superseded by Maasai names. This is further evinced by certain “Masai place-names in eastern Nandi which indicate that the Masai had temporary possession of strip of Nandi roughly five miles wide”, these include Ndalat, Lolkeringeti, Nduele and Ol-lesos, which were by the early nineteenth century in use by the Nandi as koret names.
Late 19th century
Nandi county was the scene of the resistance struggle that has come to be known as the Nandi Resistance. The traditional system of governance came to an end c.1905 with the end of the resistance struggle. This was followed by the subsequent absorption of Nandi into the East African Protectorate in 1905 and later into the Kenya Colony in 1920.
The Emet of Wareng was amalgamated into the Uasin Gishu district during the colonial period. It is today part of Uasin Gishu County and last bore its name as a county of Eldoret South Constituency. The Emet of Soiin would be appropriated for European occupation, as part of what were known as the white highlands, during the colonial period. It was later split in two and is today named after the Tinderet and Nandi Hills.
Home to a number of tea estates as well as the Koitalel Samoei Museum, Kapsimotwa Gardens and the Nandi Bears Club.
Koitalel arap Samoei mausoleum and museum
Koitalel Arap Samoei Museum was instituted in commemoration of Koitalel arap Samoei, a traditional spiritual leader of the Nandi. It incorporates a mausoleum as well as a center that display of the cultural heritage of the larger Kalenjin community.
This, is the most prominent rock formation along the whole length of the Nandi (Nyando) Escarpment, is a 30-minute walk from the KWS post at Kaptumek.
Chepkiit Water Falls
Tucked some two kilometres from Eldoret International Airport, off the Eldoret-Kapsabet road, Chepkiit waterfall in Nandi County is one of the marvels of mother nature, carved out of the magnificent walls of the Great Rift Valley.
There are three hospitals, 45 dispensaries, and 9 health care centers in Nandi. It has a doctor to population ratio of 1:94,000
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