“We no longer have cattle rustling where the elders bless warriors to go get cattle, we today have Banditry where a few youth ‘of course armed’ gang up and raid their neighbors for personal gain and usually stolen cattle are not stocked but sold immediately. So banditry is theft, Cattle rustling is a cultural activity that is no longer relevant today but bandits appropriate their theft to it being part of their culture.”
The whole room is now in utter silence. All eyes fixed on the young man, speaking courageously, amidst men and women who, by what I could see, a good number were born way before him. It was time for the young to teach the old.
Calmly he takes his seat, my eyes still fixed on him as I admire his wisdom and knowledge. A thought strikes… Obsurvative Kimutai!
Obsurvative Kimutai, at least that is how I could best describe him from his numerous posts on Kamrio Mentorship Program and #KuwaMwenyewe on Facebook.
I had not a rough idea who the guy was till we met. Why rest on Obsurvative as a name? You could easily spot him in his Navy blue t-shirt with the yellow and blue Kamrio imprint, a hat and not forgetting his kempt goatee.
This was on October 13, 2017; in my first ever YESPeace Workshop, an opportunity to meet great change makers from the forgotten, unknown and known corners of the country; the likes of Kimutai, who are championing for matters Sustainable Development Goal 4.7.
Regardless of the number of change makers in the room, Kimutai’s efforts still stood out as a youth ,on the front lead to rebrand a community that has been, over the years, labelled ‘Cattle Rustlers’ into what I may best term as “Academic Rustlers”.
He is one guy I was more than curious to know. I had no clue of what I was going to tell him, but yes I wanted to know about him and what took him to Pokot.
“Why choose such an insecure place to work in and who sponsors you let alone, is that how you put food on your table?” I was so eager to ask.
Kimutai, an Agricultural Engineer by profession and a Poet, born and raised in Eldama Ravine, dedicated his work and energy to Kamrio Mentorship just after the Kamrio Half-Marathon.
The Nadome Massacre, early in May, 2015, he narrates, had scared off outsiders that some stakeholders, including the main event sponsors, pulled out of the Kamrio Half-Marathon the last minute citing security concerns.
He also adds that while the media were quick to associate violent conflicts with the Pokot, there was no light or little, if any, cast on the efforts made by the members of Kamrio Village in attempt to attain Peace.
What moved his heart towards East Pokot and Kamrio a village roughly 40kms off-road from Chemolingot was the fact that members of Kamrio community, regardless of their economic state, had sacrificed a lot to realize the success of Kamrio Half-Marathon and against all odds the event prevailed on May 30, 2015.
The villagers cleared the path for running, each household contributed goats for the ceremony and for pricing the winners of the race all in bid to see 16 of their pioneering students,who were just fresh from Primary School, fare on well through high school and mostly to show the world that they too can do something on their own.
Such efforts, Kimutai observes, though often unmentioned, revealed to him that the Pokot too are human, moral beings, with a conscience, and an understanding of peace. They were not just bandits or a hostile tribe, a narrative the media always sold and swept away people off their feet! Read more…
All these laid the perfect soils for Kamrio Mentorship to sprout and grow its first seed leaves. This saw Kimutai register and mentor 17 pupils in August later that year in the first ever Kamrio Mentorship program, armoured with a Christian Bible, notebook and pen and two maasai shukas, all prevailing factors kept constant.
As always Kimutai kept his policy in mind that inadequate funds is and will always be a story we create in our heads and it always suffocates most premature projects at their incubation stage. He worked head high with the little they had collected to make the first mentorship a success.
However, he notes that they couldn’t just focus on the 16 pioneer students but education for all students in Kamrio village and the entire East Pokot. This was a big assignment and they had to go back to the drawing board and come up with ways in which they could make the mentorship program consistent, growing and nourishing.
Three years down the line, Kamrio Mentorship Program has recorded 70 consistent mentees each of whom have been given an opportunity to know God, discover oneself and also be able to design their future and dreams in the most critical and creative way.
Having in mind that when we know ourselves better, it is easier for us as rational beings to define our purpose, understand our weaknesses, setbacks and lastly make right decisions and by that we are able to own up to our commitments and our societies at large putting God in control of everything.
To tell his story better, Kimutai puts his poetic skills on the weighing scales, now in the shoes of Obsurvative. In his song I WILL, he not only shares with the world the beautiful scenery Pokot holds and deep orange sunsets but also what truly keeps his eyes open and focused.
It is the story, with a pinch of Pokot taste, behind his numerous posts on Facebook and those messages you see daily on your WhatsApp. He tells of his journey from the feet of Tiaty Hills and up to the very top seeking this great sunset.
A journey that may be heartbreaking at times but he has the determination that HE WILL GET THERE. It is an inspiration to many people, especially this young generation in Kamrio Village, with dreams that glimmer in the dark world to just #KUWAMWENYEWE…
Story by Victor Werimo, Currently a Policy Student at Kenyatta University and Mentor with Kamrio Mentorship