legends chebo Kalenjin |Taita arap towett

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Taita Arap Towett was born in May 1925 at Tebesoonik, near Litein, in Kisyaara Location, Kericho District, Kenya. His father Cheelogoi Araap Maeero (who died in 1976, aged 110) was originally from Mokomoni, North Mugirango, and his mother was Tapaase Temugo (who died in 1934). He had a younger sister, Christina Turgut, and younger brother, John Toweett. Toweett was educated at Chebwagan Primary School, African Government School in Kabianga (1939–43), Alliance High School in Kikuyu (1944–47), and at Makerere University College, where he studied Sociology, English Literature, and History.

Elisha Kipyegon Arap Towett preferred to be called Taita Arap Towett. Taita Arap Towett was a colossus of Kipsigis politics until his death in October of 2007.

Taita Arap Towett was a scholar and an academic giant with PhD in Linguistics. He was in many aspects comparable in the statue to African greats as  Leopold Senghor. He was educated at the African Government School, Kabianga(Kericho District) and also studied in Alliance High School, Kikuyu.

Taita Arap Towett later went to Makerere College in Uganda in 1948 for a diploma in sociology, English Literature and history. He graduated in 1950 and joined colonial civil service in Kenya as a welfare officer.

In 1955, he was admitted to the South Devon Technical College In England and also enrolled with the University of South Africa for a Bachelor Of Arts Degree.

In 1957, he participated in the first electoral contest for Africans for the Legislative Council (Legco) which brought a new generation of elected African members of the Legco such as Daniel Arap Moi.

In 1958 Taita Arap Towett was elected to represent a new constituency called Southern area Constituency.

In 1963 he was elected KADU member of parliament for Bureti Constituency. He joined KANU and resigned from Parliament. In 1969, he was returned to Parliament as Member for Buret and was appointed Minister for Education. He was re-elected to Parliament in the 1974 General Election and was appointed Minister for Housing and Social Services. He obtained his M.A. in Linguistics from the University of Nairobi, for which he had registered in 1973.

He became Minister for Education in 1976, and was elected President of the 19th General Assembly of UNESCO (1976–78), in 1977, he finished his Ph.D. thesis on “A Study Of Kalenjin Linguistics”.

He lost the General Election in 1979 but was appointed Chairman of Kenya Literature Bureau. He did not contest the 1983 General Election but returned to parliament as a nominated MP. From 1983 to mid-1985 he served as Chairman of Kenya Airways, from where he was appointed Chairman of Kenya Seed Company where he served until 1998. 1992-1997 he was back in parliament as a nominated MP. He also served as a Director of the Kenya Times newspaper, and published and edited his own newspaper, Voice of Rift Valley, from 1997 to 2000. From 2002 he wrote a weekly column in the Kenya Times called “Face To Face With Guru”. He was actively involved in the Constitution Review Process at Bomas of Kenya, 2003-04.

Taita Arap Towett had a large diverse family with four wives; the late Rachel Chemibei, the late Rachel Chebet Taplule and Elizabeth Cherotich, Anna Kamaya. He has 32 children and over 40 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Weeks before he died he was dictating, from memory, his unique life story to one of his sons to compile into an autobiography. In his 1963 poem “Polygamy,” he wrote: “my ambition is nil except for writing.”

He died on 8 October 2007 after an automobile accident. The car he was traveling in collided head on with a canter truck a few kilometers from his Shimoni residence.


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