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Kalenjin: Fascinating facts about the running tribe of Kenya

Every community has interesting facts about them, kalenjins are no exception to that.Below are some of the interesting facts.

3rd Largest Ethnic Group

Kalenjins are among largest tribes in Kenya after the Kikuyu and luhya tribes respectively.

Sub Tribes

Kalenjins are made of about 5million individuals in 10 different sub tribes namely Tugen, Kipsigis, Nandi ,Sabaot ,Pokot ,Keiyo ,Ogiek, Terik, Lembus and Marakwet. The Kalenjin inhabit most parts of the North Rift Valley including Eldoret, Kericho, Marakwet and Nandi.

Economic Activities

Kalenjins have been known as mixed farmers as they plant crops such as sorghum, maize and millet and they keep livestock. Hence in the past years they were known as a self reliant community for they only looked outside the community for products they couldn’t produce. Recently the Kalenjins have ventured into the business world especially real estate.


Most Kalenjin are part of a religious group. Almost 90% are into Christianity with the rest following Islam or traditional faiths.

Fierce warriors

The Kalenjin tribes are known for their fierce warriors when the British came into Kenya and started on the Kenya-Uganda Railway, the Kalenjin tribes were among those that fought the most to stop it. Under the lead of Koitalel arap Samoei, the Kalenjin fought an 11-year long resistance that ended when Koitalel was assassinated. Currently, the Sabaot are also feared in the Mt. Elgon region as they continue to fight over cattle and land with their neighbours.

Rich in Knowledge

Kalenjin were rich in knowledge even before the coming of the white people. They were adequately equipped in medicinal and other scientific knowledge. The Kalenjin doctors used both traditional and technical knowledge to treat ailing people. Some of the services offered included childbirth, minor operations, bone resetting among others. The Terik especially were known as the medical tribe. Literature on traditional Kenya also shows clear evidence of the understanding of the stars and climatic seasons before colonisation.

Female – Female Marriage

The Kalenjin community allowed female to female marriage this was under the circumstance that the woman married was barren. She was allowed to take in another woman as a second wife for her and her husband. This was for the purpose of bearing children for the first wife and her husband and as a result, the second wife was given a home, food and an entitlement to inheritance.


Milk is one of the staple food of the Kalenjin commonly referred to as Mursik in their native language.The sour and sweet fermented milk is usually drank with Ugali, Kenyas staple food or just by itself.Mursik is also used in welcoming visitors, thanking heroes and heroines and is also handy during ceremonies.Traditionally, mursik was made as a measure of preserving milk for future use when it was in excess. The Kalenjin also take traditional vegetable and meat.


In the Kenyan politics also kalenjins have been active having the KANU party traditionally representing them and hence gaining a top seat in the nation with Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi as the second president of Kenya. The Kalenjins have been able to gain a top seat once as the Fifth president Willam Samoei Ruto comes from the community.

Running Tribe

And above all the Kalenjin tribe commonly recognized as a running tribe is celebrated country wide and world wide for winning different marathons and also breaking records in international games such as London marathon. Examples of athletes are Eliud Kipchoge, David Rudisha , Amos Kipruto, Vivian Cheruiyot , Faith Kipyegon and many more have been on the news headlines for breaking records and winning marathons.

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