The Tapkendi Tale

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story set in the Kenyan Rift Valley

Submitted: October 29, 2016

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Submitted: October 29, 2016



There was once a poor woman called Tapanan who lived with her sons near the border of Maasai and Kalenjin lands. The Maasai were the dominant community then and had taken over significant tracts of Kalenjin grazing grounds some generations ago. Tapanan was poor and the other villagers looked down on her, in fact her very name meant poor.

Tapanan lived on turonik, the left over grains after the harvest had been collected. In those days, the villagers would have a celebration after the harvest was done, the Kipsundet. It was a time of much merriment and feasting. The entire village held a joint feast where many cows, goats and sheep were roasted over a blazing fire.

Even then, the villagers rejected her. While they were feasting on the fattiest and juiciest cuts of meat, they would throw the placentas at Tapanan. They said that she had no cows to give them meat so they did not see why they should waste any good meat on her.

Tapanan was dismayed that her children should grow up like this, eating placentas while the other children in the village ate meat. She had to do something.

Tapkendi DanceOne day as she was gazing across the Murkusi River, her eyes took in the not uncommon sight of Maasai cows dotting the Angata Nanyokie.They were fat and shiny for each had more than enough grazing ground to satisfy it's need. This particular day, a thought struck her, she knew how she would get some cattle.

She gathered her children and told them of her plan.

She then crossed the Murkusi and when she was near the Maasai kraals, she took of her clothes. She then fastened cow bells to her arms and legs and approached the kraals, dancing like a mad woman.

All the Maasai in the kraals thought she had lost her mind and they laughed at her. The warriors that had been guarding the cattle came to take a look at the spectacle.

As soon as the cattle were left unprotected, Tapanan's son's dashed out of the bush where they had been hiding and drove the animals into the hills. They were joined by friends and the Maasai warriors dared not pursue them.

Meanwhile, Tapanan, whom no one yet suspected to be involved with the raid, took off her bells and made good her escape. This was the first check that the Maasai received at the hands of the Kalenjin, who eventually succed in driving them out of their ancestral lands.

The womans sons took on beautiful wives with the wealth they acquired and she became rich and greatly honoured among the Kalenjin. Her name became Tapkendi and her sons came to be known as the men of Kapchepkendi.

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