The Indomitable Champions
The Tugens are one of ten Kalenjin ethnic group. The Tugens have four dialects namely:
The Tugen population is estimated at 350,000.
Traditionally, like other Kalenjin people, the Tugen prayed to a God called Asis (which means 'sun'.) There are also gods namely Chepapkoyo(god of harvest), Cheptengeryan (god of love). Most have converted to Christianity. Islam has flourished in the major towns and it was these towns that some Tugens convert into Islam and adopted Islamic names.
Age-sets: The Tugen social organisation centres on the age set, or ibindo. There are seven age-sets (ibinwek) which are rotational, meaning at the end of one ageset new members of that generation are born. The order is roughly as given below. Among the some Kalenjin peoples, an age-set called Maina exists. However, among the Tugen, this ageset is extinct. Legend has it that the members of this ibindo were wiped out by the Keiyo, in skirmish between the two tribes near present day Cheploch gorge. For fear of a recurrence, the community decided to retire the age-set.
Ibindo was given out at initiation and by simple arrangements, there ought to be one ibindo between a father and a son. For example, a korongoro cannot beget a kipkoimet. The Tugen don't consider a woman to have an ageset, hence she can marry any ageset except that in which her father belongs. The Tugen say "ma tinyei ibin Kirkoswald meaning they can any age set but they have their own ageset like chesiran, masinya, chepigwek Mary " .
Age sub-set (siritie): In each age-set, the initiates were bundled into siritie or what can be understood as a 'team'. There are three 'teams' or siritoik in an age-set (ibindo) namely:
3. Barnot (literally youth)
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