Kenya’s most celebrated traditional leaders who resisted British colonialism

Francis Akhalbey December 12, 2018

Samoei and Nandi soldiers in formation

Koitalel Arap Samoei

Koitalel Arap Samoei was born at Samitu in Aldai, modern-day Nandi county in Kenya. The youngest of four sons, he showed prophetic powers at a young age.

In 1896, when he was Nandi chief, the British began the construction of the Uganda Railway. The rail system was one-meter-long and connected the inner portion of Kenya and Uganda with the Indian Ocean port in Mombasa, Kenya.

The Nandi territory was closed off and the Nandi were on guard since they knew that the British would be coming and would attempt to conquer their people and use Nandi lands to advance their own purposes.

The British attempted to build the rail system anyway and Samoei spearheaded the 11-year Nandi Resistance. It took place between 1890 and 1905 and involved the Kalenjin’s particularly in Nandi.  Although many tribes resisted the British Army and their agenda of conquering their lands, the Nandi made history as the most persistent.

On October 19, 1905, he was led to a meeting under the rouse that his tribespeople would come to a peaceful resolution with British colonialists. Instead, he was shot at point blank range, killing him and his cause against British rule.


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