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Kipsigis

The Kipsigis was a pastoralist ethnic group in Kenya, speaking the Kipsigis language.Currently the community practises farming and they are famously known for growing Kenyan "green gold" - tea.

They are a sub-group of the Kalenjin and originated in the Sudan, moving into the Kenyan area in the 18th Century. The current settlement of the Kipsigis is in the Rift Valley province of Kenya.

The Kipsigis are the most numerous of the Kalenjin. They occupy the higlands of Kericho stretching from Timboroa to Mara River in the south, the west of Mau Escarpment in the east to Kebeneti in the west. They also occupy, parts of Laikipia, Kitale, Nakuru, Narok, Trans Mara District, Eldoret and Nandi Hills.

The Kipsigis are considered to be the most exposed of the subtribes, though job opportunities and prominence diminished under Moi due to tribal jealousy and fear by Moi of the educated Kipsigis. Education standards fell and general development failed and the people were subjected to political manipulation. It is not uncommon to find the Kipsigis living in abject poverty compared to the Tugen and Elgeyo tribes, Moi's favourite subtribes of the Kalenjin. The Kipsigis were used as the electoral vote generators, but real development and enrichment went to Tugen and Keiyo, though they are less educated and live in arid lands. The Nandis faced the Kipsigis' plight to a lesser extent. The Kipsigis are well known for humility, hardship endurance and do not show emotions.They are also loyal and courageous. Men undergo circumcision at an average age of 14 years. Traditionally, boys are housed in a 'menjo' next to a forest and fed there as they await their genitals to heal.During this period, they undergo three main traditional ceremonies:Kelab-eun,Tyenjinet and Kayaet.After the first ritual, the boys are allowed to go out in the forest for hunting using bows and wood-made-arrows. It's at this point in time that they master the use these weapons-essential in traditional warfare. Christianity has seen the three stages phased out and replaced with biblical teachings in a number of areas in Kipsigis land although the location of 'menjo' remains unchanged. Female circumcision used to be practised but is currently losing ground to Christian beliefs and government legislation.

The Kipsigis are a part of the Highland Nilotes group of People. Apart from the Kalenjin, the other tribe in this group is the Tatonga of Western Tanzania. In their expansion Southwards, the Kipsigis and the Tatonga people reached presentday Shinyanga Area in Western Tanzania only for the former group to return to the Kericho area before some went back again going Southwards but could only settle at Angata Barigoi in Trans mara next to the Tanzanian Border

Although the Kipisigis are traditionally pastrolists, pressure on land and high population have forced them to live both as farmers and pastrolists.

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