During the December holiday, I visited my friend’s home in Nandi Hills for a wedding ceremony. I realized that the Nandi community is one of the ethnic groups in Kenya rich in cultural practices. Her mother told us that during ceremonies and performance of rituals, they use a plant by the name Sinendet (Periploca linearifolia), a climbing herb up to 10 m long. It grows in hedges and on the edges of forests where it scrambles over other plants.Sinendet grows inAltitude ranging from 1700m to 2400m above sea level.
Sinendet plant was and is still widely used among the Kalenjin community in very many ways one of them when performing rituals like the rites of passage (circumcision), wedding and negotiation for payment of bride-wealth. During circumcision traditional weddings and negotiation for payment of bride-wealth; the traditional brew ‘busaa’ was put inside a pot and the sinendet was tied around the neck of the pot as a sign of respect to the ceremony. Because of twining and climbing nature of Sinendet, Nandi always tied it around the pot as a sign of peacemaking (kalyet) and bringing people together.
Sinendet Plant is also used when paying the bride-wealth to the bride’s home. Her mother told me that the cows were normally tied on the neck with sinendet plant and taken to the family of the bride.
The Nandi also use the sinendet plant to show peace and unity amongst themselves where there were conflicts before. The plant is also important to the community during the blessing and the giving of ancestral names to the young and the old.
It was normally placed on the neck of the child to show honor to the individual. They use the plant in honoring an individual for example the leaders within the community or a person after an excellent performance or victory in a particular event or activity especially during athletics, elections etc. where they wear the plant on their necks.
Sinendet plant is used by the Nandi as herbal medicine. The roots are known for the treatment of a number of diseases for example Diarhoea, Pneumonia, Venereal and many other diseases.
SINENDET: CEREMONIAL PLANT AMONG THE NANDI
Emmy Makokha-Librarian (Kitale Museum)