THE KALENJIN TRIBE NAMING SYSTEMS

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A typical kipsigis has four names apart
from Christian or religious name.
According to Kipsigis names were
given at birth, as individual matures,
during initiation and has he/she
marries. The name carries both the
culture and identity of the person.
Our cultural name tells where we
belong to.
The following factors were considered
in naming;
Naming according to time of birth.
Naming according to events.
Naming according to ancestors.
Naming according to place of birth.
Naming according to seasons.
Naming according to the situation of
birth
Naming according to the character
Naming according to body posture
Naming after heroes and heroines.
Naming According to time of Birth
Giving birth to a child is called Tumet.
The expectant mother is called
Tamonet/chi nyigis and after giving
birth is called saloita (ne kochuut go).
In naming boys or male child, the
prefix Kip starts and then time or
event apart of Cheruiyot. For girls or
females Chep starts followed by time,
in Nandi Chep sometimes is replaced
with Jep probably based on
pronunciation. The following are few
examples;
Kipkoech/Chepkoech – Born towards
morning 5.am
Kipyegon – Born between 6.00a.m –
7.00 am.
Kipkemoi/Chepkemoi-Born at
midnight 11pm-3am
Kipkirui/Chepkirui – Born at 10 p.m to
11p.m.
Kiplangat/Chelangat – Born between
7p.m – 8p.m.
Chebet/Kibet – Born between 11am –
2p.m
Kipngetich/Chepngetich – Born
between 7a.m – 9.00 a.m
Cheruiyot – Born between 9p.m –
11p.m.
Kiprono/cherono – Born between
2p.m – 4p.m
Kimutai/chemutai-morning
session.,mutai means morning
Actually there was no time frame as
above but biological clocks such as ;
cockcrows, donkey bays, birds singing
among other living creatures were
used to tell on time frame and also
the use of both Sun and Moon
position and location were used.
NB: Close family members should not
share time name it is considered to be
abomination, this is why similar time
can have different names to give
room for that provision. In Tugen the
Chep name can be used for both
male and female especially among the
Aror.Actually Kiprono should be
Kiprotno while Kiprotich should be
Kiprottich.The Kip and Chep name
according to kipsigis is also called
Kainap musar (Name of porridge) and
are normally withdrawn silently upon
initiation.
Naming according to Events
The prevailing events or circumstances
during time of birth leads to naming
of the born child according to that
situation for example
Kiptoo/Cheptoo – Born in presence of
visitors or away from home.
Kipruto/Cheruto – Born during visits to
other places.
Kipngeno/chepngeno-born when
goats are walking up.
Kipkeino-born when sheep or goats
are being milked
Kiptum-born during circumcision
ceremonies
Kimaiyo/komen/Chebore/Misik-born
when beer is being brewed or drunk.
Kiptalam-born during infestation of
locust.
Kipkechei-born in the night when
there was a lot of stars in sky.
Chemesunde-born in deep darkness
because of absence of moon.
Kipkeitany-born in the course of the
milking on the cattle
Kipkesio/chepkesio-born during the
harvest.
Kipyator-opening the way possibly a
primary born.
Kipsiele-born when beer is at its
optimum of ripening
Kiptabut-born when an individual
went to the firewood storage rack
near the roof.
Kipserem-born alongside the outer
wall in the hut.
Kiptarbei-the mother drink a lot of
water during the labour pains.
Chepkalya/kipkalya – Born during
peace making process.
Chepkemei/Kipkemei – Born during
drought.
Kiprugut/Cherugut – Born during
famine.
Kimetet-born outside home where
millet chaff are removed
Kipchumba/ chepchumba – born in
foreign land
Kipsigei/chesigei – mother gave birth
without assistant
Kiptum_born during ceremonies
period
Naming According to Ancestors
When a child was born among the
Kipsigis, it was named after a dead
ancestor. The spirit of the dead was
said to have been recalled to life in the
new born child. It was believed that
the dead never completely disappear
but instead hover around homes and
communicate with the living to even
to a point of punishing them in case
of wrong doings. The ancestral name
was generally called kurenet. Names
were given according to departed
ancestors of the clan. An ancestor
who was famous and hero or good
will have many named after him/her.
The person named after an ancestor
who never married was sometimes
called Arap Mageso (the unmarried
one). So as to provoke him to marry
unlike his ancestor.mature unmarried
man with no intention to marry is
actually called kipsongoiyat, which
comes from word kesongoi meaning
to hang, that is umarried man only
hangs his genitals without using them
for reproduction.
Boys were mainly named after male
ancestors. But in some circumstances
a boy may be named after a female
for example malakwen reffering to a
male named after a female ancestor,
where during her life time she vow or
swear that I will be named after a boy
so that she will no longer carry
firewood on her back. Malakwen (one
who does not carry firewood).This is
because the women in the society are
the one vested with the responsibility
of carrying firewood and fetching
water among other chores of the
family.
In case the child didn’t respond to
accept any ancestral name the girl
was to be called Chebwogen in some
and at the same time Chebwogen is
name based on time of birth.
Koe was a woman married to another
clan but she was named in her
father’s clan after her demise
.Ancestral name was a form of
reincarnation of departed ancestors to
the born child. During naming all
names of the departed ancestors of
the close relatives belonging to the
same clan were named as elderly
woman sings and gather flowers until
the child sneezes indicating the
acceptance of the ancestral name.
Naming according to place of Birth
The venue or place of birth was a
determining factor on the name of a
child during time of birth. For
example.
Kipchoge – Born near granary.
Chebii/Kibii – Born outside the house.
Chelelgo/kiplelgo – Born in new
house
Kipchumba/Chepchumba – Born in
white man land or foreign land.
Kibor/chebor – Born at road side.
Kipsang/Chesang – Born outside
homestead.
Kipketer/Chepketer – Born outside
near wall of the house/back of the
house
Kipkurgat/Chepkurgat – Born on the
door
Chebitok/kibitok-born at bed room
Chesiror/kipsiror-born after crossing a
road
Kiptegek-born near bamboo trees
Kimengich/chemengich-born where
sheep rest at night
Kipkok/chepkok-born where it is
normally seated outside
Kipsoi/kimisoi-born in a dryland areas
Cheptim/kiptim-born in bush
Cheriro-born in swampy areas
Sino-one born in a warm and fertile
place i.e.sineet.
Naming according to season
The prevailing weather and climatic
conditions determines the name of
the child to be born. For example.
Cherop/Kiprop – Born during sudden
rain down pour.
Kipkones/chepkones – Born when rain
is drizzling
Chepkemei/kipkemei – Born during
drought
Kiprugut/cherugut – Born during
famine.
Kibiwot-born during dry climate or
famine
Chebonjo/kibonjo-born during
migration to new places
Kwambai-born during harvesting of
plenty millet
Kimurgor-born during sub-division of
land or surveying
Naming According to situation of Birth
The prevailing situation during
pregnancy of delivery determines the
child’s name for example:
Kipchirchir/Chepchirchir – Born during
emergency of birth
Kipkoskei/Chepkoskei – child born with
difficulty and takes time to sneeze
Kitur-along awaited son i.e. usually
born after several daughters and as a
result of situation.
Kibichii/chebichii-one of the many
mothers and fathers or any other
relative was very harsh.
Kimaru-potentially the mother was
not sleeping effectively right before
the birth of the child or perhaps the
child was not a good after start.
Kimagut/chemagut-born right after
the more mature sibling experienced
died.To be certain which the younger
ones survives it is actually taken on
the ant eaters i.e. Aardvark hole to be
picked by a person and presented
again to the mother.
Kiptonui/Cheptonui – child who
fainted immediately after birth
Kipleting/Chepleting – mother was
stressed at birth
Kipmitei/Chemitei – The mother’s
pregnancy was not noticed
Kipngeny/chepngeny – Born in salt
lick areas
Kipsigei/Chesigei – The mother gave
birth without assistance
Cheluget-born during raid or war
activities
Naming after Heros or Heroines
The born child was sometimes named
after heroes or heroines. For example
kongoi nyigonik che chabong che
kiset kobor kot kebechi lagok abai,
kongoi Tapbeltagaita korinden kot
kowach korgon obot nyaboke kole le
katubech iliono ne kouut nyereren ak
nyanja (Thanks to heroes who raided
and becomes successful until children
were named after them because of
their bravery) the women who had
just given birth would go to the
homes of such men and beg to use
their names for the new born babies.
The practice came to be known as
abaita.Songs of praise would then be
composed about the brave ones, in
Kipsigis every man was aspiring to be
a hero in his entire Endeavour’s.Aba
ita is fortune, blessing it was bra

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