Kalenjin names for Boys and Girls

Naming among the the Kalenjin

Updated Sept 2013

The kalenjin name their children according to the time of birth with a few variations. Most people however have inherited their names from former relatives and ancestors. Male names often start with letter ‘K’ but may be abbreviated by omitting the prefix Kip. Most girl’s names start with letter ‘C’ but may also be abbreviated by omitting the prefix Chep. Among the Arror from Kabartonjo in Kabarnet , Male names start with ‘Che’ eg. Cherono, while female names start with ‘J’ eg. Jerono. A few male names start with ‘Che’ with now female derivative.

After initiation, the initiates were given a new name. The list below may contain both pre-initiation and post-initiation names.

Origins of the Kalenjin

Some elders claim they came from Misri. Other elders say the ancestors of not only the Sabaot but all the Kalenjin speaking peoples came from a place called Senkwer in the Eastern direction from Mt Elgon.

There are nine communities that form the Kalenjin Group (Kenya Before 1900 – Ogot B.A, 1976)

1. Kipsigis

2. Nandi

3. Nyangori (Terik)

4. Elgeyo (Keiyu)

5. Tugen

6. Marakwet

7. Pokot

8. Kony (Sabaot)

9 Sebei

The Kalenjin form of government was chiefless ‘functioning through age-set institutions’ just like the Kikuyu. The cycle lasted ‘a full century, if not a century and a half, to revolve.’ There were only eight names in the cycle. (Kikuyu cycles had nine.)

A selection of Kalenjin names

Below is a selection of Kalenjin names and their meanings. Female equivalents have been placed in brackets eg. Kibichii (Chebichii), where Kibichii is male while Chebichii is female

1. Barabara (born after the older sibling had died. To ensure that the child survies, it is taken to the road (barabara) to picked by someone and given back to the mother).

2. Below is a selection of Kalenjin names and their meanings. Female equivalents have been placed in brackets eg. Kibichii (Chebichii), where Kibichii is male while Chebichii is female

3. Boisio - ?

4. Bosek - ?

5. Chemesunde – Born in deep darkness due to absence of the moon. No male equivalent.

6. Chemiron –This is a male name among the Nandi and Kipsigis. The name has no female equivalent.

7. Chepkeitany (mainly a Keiyo name with no female equivalent) – born during the milking of the cattle.

8. Chepkwony – this name is an oddity as it belongs to men among the Nandi and Kipsigis

9. Cheruyot – has to do with spending the night in the same hut with the mother. No male equivalent.

10. Chumo – This is an age set name which is also represented among the Kikuyu by the ‘Cuma’ ruling generaion.

11. Elgeyo (Keiyu)

12. Kenduiyo - ?

13. Kibichii (Chebichii) – One of the parents or other relative was very harsh.

14. Kibiwot (Chebiwot) – Dry weather or farmine.

15. Kibor (Chebor) - (born after the older sibling had died. To ensure that the child survies, it is taken to the road (or) to picked by someone and given back to the mother).

16. Kibuigut (Chebuigut)- Stammerer.

17. Kimaiyo (Chamaiyo) – born when there was a lot of beer.


18. Kimaru – Perhaps the mother was not sleeping well before the birth of the child, or the child was not a good sleeper after birth.

19. Kimenjo (Chemenjo ) – Born during the initiation ceremony.

20. Kimurgor (Chepmurgor) – Named after the wondering nature of the mother when she was pregnant

21. Kimutai (Chemutai) – Labour was delayed for more than twelve hours

22. Kipchirchir (Chepchirchir) – Short labour pains

23. Kipchoge (Chepchoge) – Born in the granary

24. Kipchumba (Chepchumba) – Born when the mother was away on a visit.

25. Kipkeino (Chepkeino) -

26. Kipkemboi (Chepkemboi) – night

27. Kipkemei (Chepkemei) – Born when there was a famine

28. Kipkesio (Chepkesio) – born during the harvest

29. Kipketer (Chepketer) – born along the outer wall of the hut

30. Kipkirong, Kipkering (Chepkirong, Chepkering) – born after the older sibling had died.

31. Kipkorir (Chepkorir) – Born when the chicken are crowing, before sunrise

32. Kipkoskei (Chepkoskei) – Born quickly without much labour (

33. Kiplagat – (Chelagat) After 7 pm, before midnight (Kiplangat for Kipsigis and Tugen)

34. Kiplimo (Chelimo) – born when the cows had already been taken to pasture.

35. Kipmagut (Chemagut) – (born after the older sibling had died. To ensure that the child survies, it is taken to the anteater’s (Aardvark’s) hole to picked by someone and given back to the mother).

36. Kipngeny – when cows had been taken to the salt lick

37. Kiprono (Cherono) - Born when the shep and goats are coming from pasture, 5 to 6 pm.

38. Kiprop (Cherop) – Born during heavy rains

39. Kiprotich (Cherotich) – Born when the cows are coming from pasture, 5 to 6 pm.

40. Kipruto (Cheruto) – Born when either a visitor arrived, or someone in the homestead went on a visit (travelled)

41. Kipsaina (Chepsaina) – Born when someone went to the firewood storage rack slightly above the fireplace.

42. Kipsang (Chesang) - Born outside the hut in the open.

43. Kipserem (Cheserem) - born along the outer wall of the hut among the Kipsigis and Tugen.

44. Kipsigis

45. Kiptabut (Cheptabut) – born when someone went to the firewood storage rack near the roof above the fireplace.

46. Kiptalam (Cheptalam) – born during the locust invasion

47. Kiptanui ( Cheptanui) – Someone fainted when the child was born.

48. Kiptarbei – The mother took a lot of water and finish it all. No female equivalent.

49. Kiptoo (Cheptoo) – born when a visitor has arrived

50. Kiptum (Cheptum) – Born during celebrations

51. Kiptuwei –Among the Kipsigis and Tugen, the female equivalent is Taptuwei

52. Kipyator (chebiyator) – opening the way, perhaps a first born.

53. Kirungu – This is an age set name, equivalent to the ‘Irungu’ ruling generation of the Kikuyu.

54. Koech (Chepkoech) – born between 6 and 7 am, early morning.

55. Koilegen - ?

56. Kony (Sabaot)

57. Maina – This is a common age set name among many communities in Kenya including the the Kikuyu, Luhya, Kisii and Mijikenda.

58. Marakwet

59. Nandi

60. Ng’asura - ?

61. Nyangori (Terik)

62. Pokot

63. Sawe – This is an age set name.

64. Tapkili – Female name likely given as a second name after initiation among the Tugen and Kipsigis

New Addition - Kimagut (Chemagut) - From the word Kimagutiet, an Aadvark (ant eater). The family of the man who gave me this name had lost three children. The fourth one was taken to an Aardvarks hole and place there briefly whereupon he was given the name, Kimagut. he survived childhood and six more siblings were raised successfully.

Special thanks to : Ms. Chepkorir A. and Ms. Fatuma M. for their assistance in this hub.

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