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The Sacred Sinendet Vine is a mark of Victory that wards off evil

In the just ended August 9th General Elections, The Kalenjin community in Rift valley region show cased their cultural art of celebrating their elected political leaders by adorning them with a special plant around their necks Periploca linearifolia popularly referred to as Sinendet by the Kalenjin People.

Immediately after Announcement of the results by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) ,celebrations were noted in different parts of the country, In Eldoret Home to the deputy president Dr .William Ruto who was declared the President Elect by The IEBC chair Wafula Chebukati celebrations were quite unusual.

The kalenjin elected leaders within the North rift Region were garlanded with “sinendet” and fed with “mursik”(fermented milk) amidst the chanting of traditional prayers where the crowds had to kneel as a symbol of adorning God.

According to Antony Kesior, A Kalenjin Elder from Nandi county sinendet is used in all Kalenjin communities in celebrations such as weddings, circumcision ceremonies and dowry negotiations as a sign of victory.

“Kalenjin love using sinendet due to its ever green nature, it has a white sap, and it is associated with milk, a treasured drink in Kalenjin communities, sinendet is used as a symbol of agreement and unity”, He disclosed.

Elected leaders within the counties of the North rift region led by the governors elect of Uasin Gishu county Hon. Jonathan Bii Chelilim alias Koti Moja,Wesley Rotich of Elgeyo Marakwet and a host of other leader elected to the National Assembly were garlanded with sinendet around their necks and drank Mursik from “sotet” gourd to celebrate their victory.

“We don’t regard an event as fully celebrated without “sinendet” we believe it has for a long time been used by our ancestors, the plant can be placed on the neck of the celebrated leaders by anyone, but has a lot of significance when festooned on by an elder as a sign of blessing”.Kesior stated.

The Kalenjin ancestors are believed to have identified the plant because it acted as a protector from bad omen and it wards off evil spirits and also brings in good tides.

“Sinendet has a lot of cultural significance, its origin is traced back to ancient Greece and it has been passed on from one generation to another.

“This plant does well during the rainy season and can have a short life span during dry seasons. Selling of the plant or using it for promoting businesses is a taboo to the Kalenjin community as it is regarded as sacred “He Revealed.

During the initiation period women from the Kalenjin community are given sinendet to represent completion of the hardest and painful part of their son’s life as they transition to adulthood.

Glittering flowers used in modern day’s celebration can serve barely the same function as sinendet; however sinendet is more unique to Kalenjin culture as it shows a sense of their cultural belonging.

By Winnie Cherop

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