Stanely Shapashina Oloitiptip

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In the aftermath of the “Traitor” inquiry, in which then Constitutional Affairs Charles Njonjo was accused of plotting to overthrow the government, his associates were targeted. One of them was Stanely Shapashina Oloitiptip, a kingpin in Maasai politics, who made the headlines in 1984 when he was jailed for not paying tax.

Oloitiptip had sought to know from the presiding magistrate if prisons had beds. The magistrate told him he would find out for himself.

That was the beginning of the end for Oloitiptip, who kept hurtling from one crisis to another, untill his death the following year, in 1985.

What is not always acknowledged was his role in championing for Maasai land rights, and resisting the British oppression. Although he had very little formal education, Oloitiptip was a man of strong convictions. He flatly refused to be conscripted to fight against the Mau Mau in 1952. He also convinced his clan, the Ilaitayok, not to cooperate with the colonial forces.

Oloitiptip played a vital role in the formation of Maasai United Front to negotiate for the return of millions of acres of land which had been snatched from his people by the colonialists. He was elected chairman and teamed up with John Keen, a then journalist for Nation as secretary, and Justus ole Tipis, to champion for Maasai land rights.

It is against this background that Oloitiptip went to London to advocate Maasai land rights during the Lancaster Conference which negotiated Kenya’s independence and Constitution.