About Nandi County
Overview of Nandi County
Nandi County is Kenya’s athletics hub.It is home to tens of the world’s celebrated athletes, including world record breakers such as Pamela Jelimo, Janet Jepkosgei and the legendary athlete Kipchoge Keino.
The 2,884 square kilometres ‘home of champions’ borders Baringo to the east, Vihiga and Kakamega to the west, Uasin Gishu to the north, Kisumu to the south and Kericho to the south-east.
The county, which is also renowned for its thriving tea estates, is endowed with a beautiful topography that mainly consist of the scenic Nandi Hills.
Nandi County Government
Nandi County is divided into six constituencies namely; Mosop, Emgwen, Chesumei, Nandi Hills, Aldai and Tinderet. The constituencies are represented in the National Assembly by Hon.Vincent Tuwei (MP-Mosop), Hon. Alexander Kosgey (MP-Emgwen),Hon. Wilson Kogo (MP-Chesumei), Hon. Alfred Keter (MP-Nandi Hills), Hon.Cornelly Serem (MP-Aldai) and Hon. Julius Melly (MP-Tinderet).
Other leaders include H.E Hon.Stephen K. Sang (the Governor), Lucy Mulili (County Commissioner), Hon. Samson Cherargei (Senator), Hon. Dr. Tecla Tum (Women Representative) and several members of the County Assembly.
People of Nandi County
Nandi County is home to over 752,965 people (50% male and 50% female), according to the 2009 National Census. The majority of people in the county are Nandi, a sub-group of the Kalenjin tribe of Kenya. The Nandi mainly practise subsistence agriculture and livestock rearing, although more people are now turning to cash crop farming (growing mostly tea and wheat) to supplement their income.
Other communities living in Nandi include Kikuyu, Kisii and Luo – most of whom work on tea plantations and factories or employed by government and private companies such as Canken International. Because of its high altitude, Nandi County attracts a huge number of international athletes who come in for practise. They can be frequently seen running up and down the Nandi Hills.
Religion and Traditional Culture
Traditionally the Nandi believe in a supreme deity known as Cheptalel or Asis, who is symbolised by the sun. Asis has a deputy, Elat, the commander of thunder and lighting. The community idolises spirits of the ancestors, Oyik, which are believed to control the affairs of human beings. However, most Nandis have abandoned their traditional beliefs for Christianity, with a few members of the community converting to Islam. The most popular sect among the Nandi is the Africa Inland Church (AIC), the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) and the Roman Catholic.
Ugali, a dish of maize flour, is the staple food for the Nandi. The meal is usually served with cooked vegetables or mursik – a popular beverage of fermented milk. Traditionally the Nandi wore clothing made of skins of domestic animals and both men and women donned earrings comprising heavy brass coils that pulled the earlobes down to the shoulders.
The Nandi practised circumcision of boys and girls as a rite of passage into adulthood. Newly circumcised boys were assigned the task of defending the community, while the newly circumcised girls entered into marriage. Female circumcision is, however, outlawed, and there is rising levels of education among the Nandi.
It is located about 40km south-west of Eldoret and serves as the headquarters of Nandi County. Kapsabet is home to many world-renowned athletes such as Bernard Lagat, Wilfred Bungei, Robert Cheruiyot and Pamela Jelimo among many others. Kapsabet is also renowned for first grade tea production, thanks to the many tea companies -including Kapchorua and Chebut – that have established factories within the township.
Like Kapsabet, Nandi Hills is home to Janet Jepkosgei, Henry Rono and the legendary Kipchoge Keino. The town is the burial site for the famous Nandi prophet Koitalel Arap Samoei, who was killed by a British soldier Richard Meinertzhage in October 1905.
Nandi Hills is home to huge tea plantations and a golf course, Nandi Bears Golf Club, where reputable golf tournaments such as the Kenya Breweries Festival of Golf and the Gill Trophy are held annually.
Other smaller urban centres include Serem, Maraba, Mosoriot, Kaptumo, Kabiyet, Kobujoi and Ol’Lessos.
Climate and Weather
Nandi County has a cool wet climate with two rainy seasons; the long rains between March and June, and the short rains between October and November. The rainfall vary between 1,200 mm and 2,000 mm annually, with temperatures of between 15°C and 25°C.
The cool wet climate, complemented by the rich volcanic soils, makes Nandi an ideal area for tea, maize and sugar cane farming. Agriculture is therefore the main economic activity. The county has large tea plantations especially in Kobujoi-Chekumia and Nandi Hills areas. Dairy animal husbandry is also a major income earner among Nandi County residents. Dairy farmers in the county earned Sh3.9 billion from their produce in 2012. The milk produced is mainly sold to Kabiyet Dairies, KCC and Buzeki Dairies. Nandi has a huge potential to develop sports tourism owing to its association with internationally renowned athletes – many of whom train within the county.
Kapsabet Referral Hospital and Nandi Hills Sub-County hospitals are the two premier healthcare facilities in Nandi County. The county has nine health centres and 45 dispensaries. With a doctor to population ratio of 1:94,000, there is certainly a need for more healthcare facilities to be established to cater for its residents.
Nandi County has about 744 primary schools and 155 secondary schools with about 220,000 pupils and 27,000 students respectively.
The county is home to some of Kenya’s best schools, including Kemeloi Boys’ Secondary, Kapsabet High School, Kapsabet Girls High School, Meteitei Boys Secondary School, Lelmokwo High School, Laboret Boys High School and others.
Several institutions of higher learning are found here among them the University of Eastern Africa, Baraton (UEAB), Mosoriot Teachers College and Kaiboi Technical Training Institute.
Nandi County is home to many world-famous athletes, including the legendary long distance runner Kipchoge Keino, Moses Tanui, Bernard Lagat, Wilfred Bungei, Janet Jepkoskei, Pamela Jelimo and many others. Koitalel Arap Samoei, a popular freedom fighter who was killed by a British soldier in October 1905, hailed from Nandi County.
Attractions and Places of Interest
Tourist attractions in Nandi County include Chepkit waterfall, Banjoge Game Reserve, Kobujoi forest in Aldai, Kingwai Swamp and Koitalel Arap Samoei Museum.
Banjoge Game Reserve is home to a small population of wildlife such monkeys, leopards and snakes. The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has announced plans to restock the reserve with more animals. Banjoge is endowed with attractive caves that await to be visited.
Kingwal swamp in Kosirai area is home to Sitatunga, a rare brown antelope with long horns. The antelope, which is under threat from poachers for its meat, has a huge potential to attract many tourists to the county.
The most convenient way to travel to and within the county is by road. The county has a tarmac road network that connects it to major Kenyan towns, including Nairobi (about 350km away), Nakuru, Kisumu, Eldoret and Kericho. Nandi has no services for air travel, with the nearest facilities being the Eldoret International Airport (about 40km from Kapsabet) and the Kakamega Airstrip in the neighbouring Kakamega County.
There is a wide range of accommodation options for visitors. These include Nandi Bears Golf Club, Tea Planters’ Hotel, Eden Spring and Kapsabet Hotel among others. Budget hotels and guest houses are also available in Kapsabet, Nandi Hills and other major urban centres.
Nandi Hills and Kapsabet towns are busy commercial centres with at least six commercial banks, including Barclays, Family Bank, Equity Bank, KCB, National Bank and Co-operative Bank.
Naivas, Tiryo, and Jubilee supermarkets are the main shopping facilities in Nandi County. The supermarkets are supplemented by numerous small shops that are found in various parts of the county. There are several open air markets in the county’s major urban centres where farmers directly sell their produce to consumers.