April 10, 2006

Shropshire man to return sacred sticks to Kenya

Posted at 10:43 pm in Similar cases

In 1905, Richard Meinertzhagen, a British soldier in Kenya acquired some sacred tribal ticks belonging to the Nandi tribe. Now, more than one hundred years on, a Kenyan Warwick University with the help of an Egyptologist have tracked the sticks down to Captain Meinertzhagen’s son’s home.
On discovering the significance of these sticks to the Nandi tribe, the son, Randle Meinertzhagen, has decided that they to return them to Kenya.


Lost sacred sticks found in Midlands
Apr 10 2006
By Rhona Ganguly

Three sacred African tribal sticks that were allegedly stolen by a British army captain more than a century ago have been tracked down to the officer’s son’s home in Shropshire.

The three staffs once belonged to the chief of the Kenyan Nandi tribe, or the Kalinjin as the tribe is now known.

During a tribal revolt that blocked the building of a Kenyan railway line in 1905, the then Captain Richard Meinertzhagen invited the rebels to a ‘peace conference’ on a hill near the capital Nairobi.

When the Nadi’s chief Koitalel went to shake hands, the captain drew a pistol and shot him dead.

The rest of his men, belonging to the King’s African Rifles, then fired machine guns and massacred the chief’s bodyguard along with the tribe’s women and children.

The tribesmen have always claimed the massacre was in cold blood although some historians claim the shootings were a result of a major African revolt, which could have led to the deaths of the British soldiers.

The captain is then claimed to have helped himself to the three sacred wooden staffs, which had been brought to the conference by the African chief.

But last week, Warwick University student Kipnyango Seroney traced them to the home of the captain’s son Randle, with the help of Kenyan Egyptologist Dr Kipkoeech Sambu.

Mr Meinertzhagen, a retired investment banker living in Shrewsbury, said he had had the sticks since his father died in 1967.

“I had no idea how significant they were but when Mr Seroney saw them he was quite astonished,” said Mr Meinertzhagen.

“He asked if they could be returned to Kenya. I said ‘Of course – Africa is where they belong’.”

He said he believed his father’s version of events, where Koitalel’s handshake was a signal for his warriors to attack and the British were only able to escape alive by taking action first.

“Who knows what the truth is after all these years?” he said. “But my father’s motto was always ‘shoot first, ask questions later’.

Dr Sambu explained the importance of the sticks, which will be flown back to Nairobi next week and will be returned to the elders of the tribe.

They will then go on display at the Kenyan National Museum in the capital as a memorial to Koitalel, who has since been revered as Kenya’s first freedom fighter.

“In Kenya, these sticks are of great significance as they are meant to imbue a ruler with divine kingly qualities. Without the sticks, the man loses his status as a demi-god.”

Dr Sambu said the straight staff symbolised the right of kingship, the club-headed one represents military power and the forked one signifies religious leadership.

Koitalel’s death is one of many colourful incidents in the life of the captain, who was later promoted to colonel and was made a CBE.

According to his autobiography, Diary of a Black Sheep, Meinertzhagen was born into a wealthy London banking family of German origin.

During the First World War, he served in India, Africa and Palestine and fought with Lawrence of Arabia.

In The Severn Pillars of Wisdom , Lawrence said: “Meinertzhagen knew no half measures.

“A silent laughing masterful man; who took as blithe a pleasure in deceiving his enemy.”

After the war, he was involved in the creation of the Palestine Mandate, which eventually led to the creation of the state of Israel.

In his later life, he won fame as an ornithologist but, 25 years after his death, the British Ornithology Union accused him of theft, deception and falsehood.

It claimed he stole stuffed birds from other collections including the British Museum, forged labels and lied about specimens. A bird named after him, the Meinertzhagen warbler, which he said had been discovered in Morocco, proved to be a fake.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

Possibly related articles


  1. Elijah Kipyego Rono said,

    06.16.06 at 7:17 am

    Has the Nandi sticks returned to Kenya yet?

  2. edwin kiplangat korir said,

    06.16.06 at 2:01 pm

    we are happy that the sticks were returned to kenya.Kalenjin leaders should use this opportunity to unite all the kalenjins as we chart our way forward in terms of social, political, economic and all other aspects of developments.

  3. bethwel kimutai said,

    06.16.06 at 2:51 pm

    we hope the sticks will bring back the Kalenjin lost glory

  4. kipkorir arap kebenei said,

    06.18.06 at 7:53 am

    It\’s so glorious for the kalenjins to have acquired the strength of thier great grand father and leader distinguished Koitalel.We should now figt for compensation so that we build a big above named university in memory of our leader which is going to benefit present and coming generation.
    Thank you.

  5. edwin kiplangat korir said,

    06.28.06 at 8:25 am

    can the British Government compensate and the money received be used to built a university in memory of Koitalel?

  6. William Araap Sugut said,

    06.29.06 at 8:22 am

    After the return of the sticks, what next has happened?

    I am for opinion that the sticks should be kept within our land not in Nairobi


    07.07.06 at 8:50 am

    KOITALEL SAMOEI UNIVERSITY NANDI HILLS.I am for opinion that those samoei’s staff of office sticks should be kept in Nandi Hills and a Public university should be build in memory of our esteemed Orkoiyot samoei as a compensation to kalenjin community.
    I am a student in Baraton university.Thank you so muth biik ab mouth.
    Yours faithfully
    kebenei k.william

  8. david rotich said,

    08.01.06 at 12:07 pm


  9. kipkoech said,

    08.08.06 at 3:36 pm

    kalenjin leaders should now think and have a nice museum for orkoiyot koitalel samoei, tats how we shall respect him for the job and struggle he did for us..
    koingoi koonyon bo kalenjin


    08.09.06 at 2:20 pm

    Thank you for the hard work and dedication in ensuring our culture and history is given a new look our leaders should embrace by showing unity.KONGOI MISSING.

  11. cheruiyot j l said,

    08.11.06 at 10:17 am

    its a big step at moments like this when the culture of minoriyt can be preserved .Dr sambu please there are many ahead of you. may almighty give you strenght to give us more.INGOBERURI KIPTAIYAT
    with regards.

  12. Elijah Kipyego Rono said,

    09.10.06 at 7:03 am

    I am so glad that the sacred sticks have been returned to Kenya and Nandi leaders should be responsible for handling and also taking care of them. Thanks you guys for everything.
    May God help you as well.

  13. Ngeny Vicky said,

    09.26.06 at 7:04 am

    Hey people, does anyone know where i can get the images of the artifacts to be returned and any other pics related to nandi people? Holla back in my address vcngeny@yahoo.com

  14. Elijah Kipyego Rono said,

    10.03.06 at 12:49 am

    When the sacred sticks were returned to kenya, how did Mainertzagen’s son react? Did he say no or he just let them taken?

  15. job too said,

    10.29.06 at 4:07 pm

    Dr kipkoech Sambu and Kipnyango Seroney should indeed be recognised for this commendable effort. Having seen Dr Sambu’s work on the staffs iam simply awed but proud of this our rich heritage.
    The challenge is upon us to rediscover our strenghts, to work together in unity, to bring a renaissance of not only the Kalenjin and the Kenya but of all African people, we should not have any of our people living in squalor and abject poverty rather we should build a nation that provides a post-modern lifestyle for its people equal or above international standards and take our rightful place at the table of nations exercising our intellectual abilities for the benefit of the the whole of humankind.
    As a first step towards achieving this goal we need to be honest with ourselves, be fortright and never tolerate mediocrity wether this be at the the personal level,in leadership, the economy and whichever other area of our lives.
    Tribalism and corruption have no place in the building of this great nation. The is a huge difference between cultural or national pride and tribalism. One is positive and progresive promoting self-reliance, the other negative and retrogresive promoting dependence.

  16. koriryo said,

    11.10.06 at 4:53 pm

    Bravo keep the good work.It shows how we still value our ancestors i.e our heroes..

  17. Rotich Melilei said,

    12.04.06 at 2:47 pm

    Dr Kipkoech and Seroney,
    Kongoi missing eng boisiet of bringing back the sacred staffs, its a sign of kalenjin unity. Lets forge ahead united.
    God bless kalenjin the home of leaders and leadership.

  18. Rono Kipyego Elijah said,

    01.05.07 at 10:59 pm

    Chamgei missiing,
    That’s is absolutely true. A university should be build in Nandi Hills in rememberance of our own divine leader. May one day all our dreams come true. There was someone who asked for the images of the Kalenjin artefacts. I tried to find any images relating to the required but I did not get any success. I guess no one put them in the internet. All right bik ab kutit may God be with as you continue with the exploration of the Kalenjin culture. Good luck and happy new year.

  19. samson tuitoek said,

    01.11.07 at 1:08 pm

    there is need to empower the community to always empress education since without it we are not going any were .the economic base of our community is generally wanting.

  20. Kirui Kipkorir Terer said,

    01.16.07 at 3:02 pm

    I have just opened this site and felt the need to appreciate the efforts of Dr.Sambu and his friends abroad for the great work they did and still doing for the enlightening the Kalenjin community on issues concerning Koitalel and generally EGYPTOLOGY>God Bless the works of your brains.Kirui K

  21. Ruto G. Kimei said,

    01.18.07 at 6:25 pm

    My dear brothers, I have personally seen the sacred sticks at Nandi Hills may good care be taken of them. This could be done in the most possible way by building a Museum in the honour of Koitalel Samoei. May the GOOD LORD BLESS all those who are working towards a realization of the Museum.

  22. Stephen Kipkogei Chumo said,

    01.31.07 at 12:55 pm

    Kudos to our Kalenjin brothers for the hardwork they did to recover our once lost items of culture.Personally,I never thought that the valuable items could be recovered in the near future.However,I think the museum shouyld be located in Kapsabet and not Nairobi,os as to enable everyone in kalenjinland to access it

  23. Elijah Kipyego Rono said,

    02.05.07 at 9:30 pm

    I’m supporting everyone’s ideas that a museum should be build or those valuble Kalenjin stuff be in the Kalenjin land. I mean everywhere is fine but it could be more finer when the stuff is home. Kaigai komi tuguk kaa kosir komi olin loo. Kararan si kokerei bik ab kutit. Kongoi misiing eng boisiet nekioyai ak ne otesei taai oyaei. Ingoberurook kiptaiyat.

  24. julius kogei bett said,

    02.08.07 at 8:28 am

    am all praise for our scholars for what they have done to the entire community, on the return of the our sacred heritage and on your continued quest to educate our people on our past.
    may this bring about real positive change in the community
    God bless you richly

  25. edwin arap chepsiror said,

    03.11.07 at 7:51 am

    I really appreciate the work done by DR. Sambu and everybody else.
    I also think that the staff be laid to rest at the homeland, that way the next generation can always find it handy.I also beg and dare somebody or anybody to give me a detailed and irrational history of Kalenjin and how they split esp. Nandi.I will make it my lifetime goal to get it online .

  26. Ben Kibet Chirchir said,

    03.20.07 at 12:15 pm

    Congratulations Dr. Sambu,

    Thank you for thinking the way you have done, You are our light. This is just the beginning of big things to come, Thanks for letting us know that we are the genius in this world, indeed it only that we have been made to believe that we are lesser in some way.

    All the Africans need and in particular, the Kalenjin is that our culture is the best, our knowledge; grade 01 – all the other people have done is to steal from us and look for ways to finish us. they have taken advantage of our virtues to maim us.

    Kongoi mising

    Kibet, From Muserechi, lembus


    05.01.07 at 12:43 pm

    Thankyou Dr Sambu and Kibnyaango for having recovered our Kalenjin symbol of unity and Dignity.

  28. Willy Tanui said,

    06.17.07 at 6:27 pm

    Hello Bik ab kutit,
    I suddenly late, but I must confess as many have that I am too thrilled with this story. Thank you DR. Sambu and everyone who contributed to the return of Kalenjin freedom. What is the latest in this story? I agree with many of you that a University should be build in honor of our Hero, Koitalel Samoei.

  29. AraaPturgo said,

    06.18.07 at 10:58 am

    To Dr. Sambu,
    Thank you for your efforts. The entire kagiptai website is a must go for the patriot.
    Kongoi mising!

  30. Stephen Kimaru Tiony said,

    01.24.08 at 1:04 pm

    Dear Biik ab Kutit,

    Thank you Dr Sambu and Mr Seroney for playing an important role in the History of Kalenjin more so Nandi Sub-tribe.

    Your actions has enable us to claim what belongs to us as a community and it has also shown us that we have so many issues we can claim (STRATEGIES)for the community . For us to protect our future,our culture and our borders: I would propose that our leaders should look for ways of ensuring that Tea Companies contribute certain income, say at least 2.5% every year for development of Atlethics, Education and Culture.
    Likewise, we should form Company (ies) to lobby and buy back all Tea Companies and establish a Public University in honour of KOITALEL arap SOMOEI.

    Long life kalenjin Culture & it’s People.

    Stephen Kimaru arap Tiony
    From Kaptalam Clan,
    Kapchuryai Family.

  31. kimeli said,

    02.14.08 at 12:29 pm

    Backward never forward ever.Folks,let us come together and funtion as people of an enlightened community.Greats thanks Mr.Sambu,personally Iam very proud of you.’Tei icheng’u chejang missing we Sambu!’
    Kimeli A Philemon
    Daystar University……..reach me through-E-MAIL

  32. Kipkorir Julius Arap Rotich said,

    04.17.08 at 1:18 pm

    Dr. Sambu and Kipnyango Seronei,
    Thank you so much for your hard work. I believe that God is intervening on behalf of our people and God has directed those two brilliant professionals to get the cultural relics of our beloved leader Koitalel Arap Samoei. The discovery of the artifacts is not an accident but a direct intervention from the Almighty God. We all know that Koitalel Arap Samoei’s, God bless his soul, generation, the KAPLELACH are now taking leadership potions and the time for this generation to do all it takes to recover every property belonging to the NANDIS and the Kalenjins as a whole. Very critical issues such as tea estates in the NANDI region and the kalenjin region as a whole must be visited and the companies must reimburse the inhabitants of those lands for the lose of their ancestral land.
    1. ENACT A LAW THAT WILL MAKE ALL TEA COMPANIES PAY ROYALTIES TO THE NANDI COMMUNITY EQUIVALENT TO 2-3% OF ALL THE VALUE OF TEA PRODUCED IN THE REGION – the royalties will be used to build modern roads, build and equip schools and village politechnics.

  33. kipkmoi said,

    04.25.08 at 11:32 am

    It is nice thing that the sticks were found but it is absard to think about all those compensation stuff..it is showing how backward the kalenjin are and the thing of talking about kalenjin unity will cause more harm than good..it will continue to isolate the community from the others in Kenya.,.we should be proud to be part of Kenya, a Kenya which has produced different leaders who at their moments helped to shape our entire country..koitalel must not be used for selfish interests…rather he should be respected as a national hero who gave his life for his people. In the modern world as a tribe you go nowhere…we need each other.

  34. Clinton Kipkogei Arap Munai said,

    05.06.08 at 3:44 pm

    Iam for opinion that a university be constructed for the commemoration of this senior man koitalel samoei.And the time is now, his name must not just perish like that,he is a great leader not only in our tribe, country but all over the world.Nemie biik chook.

  35. Charles Kipkoech Arap Korir said,

    05.20.08 at 5:28 pm

    A University in Nandi hills is a great idea for our great leader. I feel great to see the progress that we are finally making as a people of a “great nation” that was. We all need this institution as a rallying point for our current & future renaissance!

    Drs Sambu & Kimnyango must be Immortalized .

  36. Charles Siele said,

    11.14.08 at 4:08 pm

    Dr Sambu,
    Thank you so much for your tireless efforts,God will surely bless us.
    For me a University is not an ideal project but probably an institute within Moi University’s History department should be recommended.
    What do you say biik ab mouth?
    Baraka tele

  37. Charles Siele said,

    11.14.08 at 4:10 pm

    May God bless all cthe people of Rift Valley for their hardwork.
    Chomog jeso

  38. Adam Kipkemei arap Menet said,

    12.02.08 at 5:59 pm

    I’ve been following the amazing unfolding of the rich lost history of the Kalenjin. Its worth acting a movie or shooting a documentary. I foresee in the near future that we will gain a place in the world, thank God we’ve got great athletes, who are us stars all over the world. They are like stars in the sky, here in Europe they doninate many running competitions. They represent Kenya and Uganda.

    However, I’d plead with the leaders to do something about our abandoned brothers in Tanzania that once lived in the prestigious Ngorongoro crater,,,the Datooga (Mangati) who now live babaric lifesyles in hoovers and squalor with minimal education. Just like the return of the Orkoiyot’s sceptors from UK, lets help in integrating them into our unit block, that belong to Got tab Kapmion. We’ve got resources in Rift Valley in form of schools, training camps, farming methods, animal husbandary, religious teaching, forums, teachers, music bands, human resourse, leadership and ununderstood love for our brothers. I see this as an oppportunity in disguise. I talk to many people here from Tanzania, and when I inform them that I’m related to the Datooga they marvel at the disparity. Kipchamba said in his song “Miningai Twist”…yaimeeche igeer tuguuk chechang’ iweendaate….lets pay a visit the Datooga’s for a recee that’ll be a prelude to being a brother’s keeper. I have a dream “Kalenjinland should not be defined by national political boundaries…but, our commoness in the star shinig peculiar distinct prowesses…like the athletics, farming, military organisation(helped ward off the Bristish coloniolist), culture, central leadership, songs and humility.

    Kipkoeech arap Sambu will go down the history books as a great Kalenjin scholar. I presume the library of the ‘would be’ Koitalel University will be named after arap Sambu. Kalenjins from Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda and people from the entire world will take pride and be psyched to study hard in this prestigious institution.

    I’ve traveled widely to the village level to almost all parts of Kenya. One thing that stuck me almost to a point of breaking into tears..was the misery caused by cattle rustling. Leaders of posterity should speak against cattle rustling mostly practiced by our brothers Pokots in places like Suguta Valley and others places. Change has to happen, no more theft and terrorising. Live is sacred and precious for tremedious growth. Kiptaiyat bless biik kab mouth…ak kutit tab Chegoo.

    From: Nandi , Mosop , Kap Sulo Family.

  39. chebichiy sabulei said,

    12.10.08 at 9:27 am

    THANK YOU,for recognising our great leader we need to thank MEINRTZHAGEN for accepting to return back the sticks for they are sticks of power .NGOBERUROK KIPTAYAT.KONGOI

  40. Oljore Kwandab Anderson said,

    09.22.09 at 6:06 am

    I believe that this the new beginning of restoration of Kalenjin glory in the world. I also request that the grave of long fallen Arap Koilegen show given some follow up

  41. dave mutai said,

    10.03.09 at 2:24 pm

    i would like to ask dr. sambu miten biik che mitem southern sudan chekikuren MURLEY AND i have been asking about them and they say that bikab kutiit tos iman AND THERE are ethiopians also who are kalenjin am yet to tell u the name they speak kalenjin na wanaishi past merile the ethioopian turkanas.

  42. PHILIP MAIYO said,

    12.16.12 at 5:20 am

    First receive our greetings in Jesus name, we are happy and we hope the same applies to us,
    Secondly we are from Kenya a community of Marginalized and minority people called the Ogiek, we were facing a lot of problems since independence up to now. We were chased out of our homeland that is the forest and we were put on the roadside. our Government has neglected us in everything when it comes to leadership,education,job opportunities we are not considered even a single day.
    Right now it is during rainy season the children are undergoing mostly a lot of problems. In terms of health facilities no hospital near us and that has led to many of these children to die, imagine when our people die we have nowhere to bury them, so what we do is that we wait until midnight then bury them in the nearby forest but nowadays the forester and other leaders have given us warning never to bury our people in the forest so we wonder what next,
    Another main problem is that our people have is hunger they need food so that their bodies get strongers and this can help them continue with life, another problem is lack of formal education on the issue of current diseases since the main disease that people die from is AIDs and Malaria TB etc
    Our request to you is that you ask for us the Govermenent of Kenya to return us to our homeland that is forest or to resettle us elsewhere, remember we written to our government to assist us but all in vain. We feel that you will help us since right now we have seen that we are not considered as the people of Kenya, remember the government now is resettling the Mau evictees and the IDPs forgetting us and remember we were supposed to be resettled first.
    Another request that we fill also that you help us urgently is to provide us with tents , food and medicine, clothes and blankets since it is very cold right now also help us with school fees for our children and we shall be very grateful and God shall bless you abundantly.
    NB: If possible please visit us and see for yourselves what we have told you above.we have alsoattach photos so that you can see for yourself.
    We have six years since when we were chased out of the forest we have nothing that we are doing please kindly help.
    Thanks and God bless you and we are waiting for your reply.
    Yours faithfully
    Philip Maiyo
    (chairman Ogiek Tindiret)Nandi county
    P.o box 148, lessos Kenya

  43. Peter Sang said,

    10.05.13 at 2:28 pm

    Mitei koret neo ne kimuchi ketech KOITALEL UNIVERSITY. Moimngei Nandiek, nga kiit koib kipnesmoinik che ketinye eng nandi koite kowek konegit. Oiyee makotee loindo kut ak ser.MOTIR OLE OOIY, makiyoni ketokchi University nitok Samoei Secondary School amu ngot keyai kounitok kokakiuny chorikkap mbarenikap Sukulisiek eng NANDI HILLS ak kora mat keboisye kainetap Koitalel koek kiboet ne kituke chorik ak kipnesmoinik che tuen mugulelwok

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URL

Leave a Comment

We want to hear your views. Be as critical or controversial as you like, but please don't get personal or offensive. Remember this is for feedback and constructive discussion!
Comments may be edited or removed if they do not meet these guidelines. Repeat offenders will be blocked from posting further comments. Any comment deemed libellous by Elginism's editors will be removed.
The commenting system uses some automatic spam detection and occasionally comments do not appear instantly - please do not repost comments if they do not show up straight away