The Kalenjin community in Kenya has a unique way of celebrating victories and honoring leaders. Instead of dances and songs, they adorn the winners with a special plant called ‘sinendet’ (Periploca linearifolia). This ornamental plant is significant in all kinds of celebrations, including weddings, negotiations for bride price, rites of passage, and elections.
According to Nandi elders, the plant acts as a protector from bad omens and wards off evil spirits, bringing in good tidings. It is over 10 meters long when stretched and maintains its green element throughout the year, making it available in all seasons, whether during drought or not. Its flexibility also allows it to be twined and tied into a circle without breaking.
The plant’s relevance to the community is evident in the fact that it is used to decorate the necks of political leaders who have won any seats in the just-concluded elections. This plant is also essential in treating a variety of ailments such as diarrhea and pneumonia, among others.
Wilson Sang , a Kalenjin Elder noted that no celebration can take place without the presence of sinendet due to its significance to the community. It is a symbol of victory and pride, and its evergreen nature makes it stand out. In short, sinendet plays a critical role in the Kalenjin community celebrations and honors, and it is deeply ingrained in their culture.