William Ruto, Deputy President and one of the lead contenders in the East African nation’s presidential elections, has been declared Kenyan’s President-elect. He narrowly beat his fiercest rival former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, by 50.49 percent of the votes cast, according to the BBC.
Veteran politician Odinga garnered 48.85 percent in an election that some 14 million voters cast their ballot last week. While his supporters participate in wild jubilation whether on foot or moving cars, if the President-elect visits the East African community of Kalenjin, there is a rite community leaders will perform for him.
It is the community’s way of celebrating candidates who ascend to higher authority in society. It is the wrapping around the neck of winners of political positions an ornamental plant known as “sinendet” and feeding them with fermented milk in a special gourd as a show of their victory.
In the Kalenjin tradition, during milestone events such as weddings, circumcision and winning elections, the victor must honor these rites.
Oral tradition among the Nandi elders has it that the plant is worn on the necks of these individuals to protect them from bad omen. An elder in the Kalenjin community, Joshua Kiptoo, explained that whenever one is decorated with the plant, a barrier is set between them and evil spirits to allow good tidings in their life after the victory.
“The plant is the community’s pride. It’s a symbol of victory because it is ever green and does not wither,” Kiptoo told Kenya News Agency.
The mystical powers of the plant, according to the community, explain why the plant is always available even when there is a drought. The “sinendet” plant is always green and its length ranges between 10 meters when stretched. Its flexibility allows it to be twined and tied to form a circle without breaking.
The plant occupies a significant role in the Kalenjin culture that’s why every political leader who wins an election has the “sinendet” wrapped around their neck before they assume office.
Medicinally, the plant is used in the treatment of diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhea.