For many Kalenjins (The old) they grew up knowing that when mimulpsis solmsii (Setyot) flowers, there is no circumcision ceremonies to take place.
The aroma from this plant is awesome, second to none of the perfumes known to man.
According to Kalenjin community, boys circumcised when setiot had flowered would end up trembling at the touch of arrows and other tools.
This was the tradition for millennium,. Yet the philosophy behind this has never been known or just ignored.
Weldon Oriop Kirui (Kalenjin Anthropologist) who in his research has spoken to various elders has dymistified the mystery behind the plant.
He interacted with an elder who once met another elder named Taptildich araap Misoi of Peek ab Mungu village in Sotik in 1972.
Araap Misoi was said to have a feeble neck and when asked why it was so, he explained that they were circumcised when setyoot had flowered.
According to Weldon, the explanation he gave was that when setiot flowers, bees suck nectar to make honey which sadly contains certain toxic chemicals like the one found in Chang’aa.
These chemicals abound in honey of setyoot plant and will remain in the body for ever, often causing problems later in life.
The setyoot itself is not the problem but the honey made by bees out of the flowers and foliage of this plant.
“The elder I spoke even went on to explain that in 2006, his shamba was full of setyoot which had flowered but went on to take care of initiates”, Mr Weldon added.
The problem comes when initiates are fed on honey something that is not being done, and has been done over the last 50 or so years due to change of lifestyle.
Today initiates are fed on tea,mandazi,chapati, rice(wali) ugali, mursik,githeri, mokimo but NOT honey.
The tradition of feeding them on honey was discontinued some decades ago, possibly in the mid 60s due to environmental degradation and uchumi mbaya..
Kalenjin wanted very strong people to defend their land hence the choice of honey.
They wanted men who could properly handle arrows when drawing blood in animal’s vein, men who could aim at their target (toor-geet) without missing.
They wanted men who could handle objects and weapons without trembling.
Honey formed a critical component of their diet hence they knew which was sweet depending on the flowers in the neighborhood.
Mr. Weldon warns that Karabweet is another plant like setyoot .
Honey from this plant is said to paralyze the user for a day till he is given very cold water to neutralize the potency of the honey made from the flowers of this plant.
Honey from setyoot has ng’woneet(poision) which makes one tremble in life.
This was the philosophy as to why initiation never took place when setyoot had flowered most recently in 1910, 1918 and later years as recorded by colonial officers.
Now that we feed our initiates with European food minus the vital honey, circumcision can go on basing on the philosophy above so long as the initiates are not fed with honey.