Compared to other Kenyan cities and towns, Bomet may not be a big place but its name resonates across the country.
Athletics, music and politics have placed Bomet on the national map for decades. Notable politicians from this area include Nick Salat, former minister Kipkalya Kones and Governors’ council chairman, Bomet Governor Isaac Rutto.
The town is located on the Kisii-Narok highway, about 300 kilometres South West of Nairobi.
It derives its name from the Kiswahili word boma that has been localised as bomet which means a cattle enclosure in the Kipsigis dialect of the Kalenjin.
Legend has it that animals stolen during pre-colonial cattle rustling era were shared not far from where the town stands. Before being shared, the animals had to be kept first in an enclosure, hence the name.
The name is also attributed to the colonial era when poll tax was levied and many Kipsigis men lost their animals to the administration. It is said the white man had a big bomet where he kept the cows. The colonial bomet site is where the county assembly has been constructed.
CRADLE OF KALENJIN MUSIC
Bomet town is the cradle of modern Kalenjin music. No other town in Kalenjin land rivals Bomet’s famous list of popular artistes. Legendary musicians like Kipchamba, Chemire and Manori are all sons of Bomet. Even the current crop of artistes like Subembe, Makiche and Chelele all hail from Bomet town.
A 10-minute drive on the Bomet-Narok highway will get you to Tenwek, a place rich in myth and history. It is home to the largest mission referral hospital in the South Rift region, the famous Tenwek High School and Chebonei Girls School.
The hospital has a power station whose establishment several years ago changed the face of the town and its surroundings and how locals perceived lightning.
Well, according to the Kipsigis, lightning was a bird-like creature that lived at Tenwek Falls until it moved deep into the Mau forest when it realised that the white man wanted to ‘trap’ it! Visit Tenwek and see the cave that once housed the animal of the sky.
Socialites have a place in Bomet town. Several clubs within Bomet cater for different people. If you want drinks while watching live football or athletics on large TV screens, then Greenland, Club City, Bash Club and Milele are the places to be.
Slightly out of town, you can enjoy a quiet time at Rhinoz, The Rock and Hunt Club. However, you have to contend with local music that is played in all pubs, perhaps as a way of going back to the roots.
The entire Bomet county is largely agricultural, with tea covering the northern parts along the Mau Forest while the lower southern zone is famed for dairy farming. Tea farmers are enjoying their bonuses. Proceeds from dairy and potato farming have begun flowing in.
Education has taken root in Bomet, thanks to the Tenwek schools. Universities too have established campuses here.
The Maasai Mara University, the University of Nairobi, Moi University and several colleges quench the town’s thirst for higher education.