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Revealed: Why Ugandans thronged the streets to celebrate Ruto’s win

Have you ever asked yourself why Ugandans have recently dominated long distance races in the world? Why are they having similar names with our Kenyan athletes? Well, here is the lead then.

On Monday, when William Ruto was declared president-elect by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairperson Wafula Chebukati, his supporters across the country thronged the streets to celebrate his win.

Dr Ruto was declared the winner after garnering 7.1 million votes which represented 50.5 per cent of the total votes cast.

Celebrations were also witnessed in the eastern region of the neighbouring country of Uganda as residence welcomed the news with cheers and excitement.

Kapchorwa District, which is on the eastern part of Uganda, formerly referred to as Sebei County is dominated by the Kalenjin community. The Sebei are a Southern Nilotic ethnic group who speak Kupsabiny, a Kalenjin language.

Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda celebrates after winning the gold medal in the men’s 10,000m at the World Athletics Championships Oregon 22 on July 17, 2022 in Eugene, Oregon. PHOTO | AFP

The Sebei occupy three districts, namely Bukwo, Kween and Kapchorwa. The Sebei sub-tribes are Sabiny, Pokot and Nandi who were majorly cattle keepers in the early years.

In Kenya, the Kalenjin community, occupying the Rift Valley region, are related to the Sebei in Uganda.

The most famous Sebei athlete in recent times has Joshua Cheptegei, who is the reigning 5000m Olympic champion and 10,000m world champion as well as the World Cross Country champion. Cheptegei also holds world records in both 5000m and 10,000m.

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He has achieved his recent exploits in the long distance races at the global stage have been at the expense Kenyan athletes, which is why many Kenyan athletics fans don’t particularly like him.

There were some who even thought that he had changed his citizenship to represent Uganda, which is not true. Cheptegei was born in Kapchorwa.

Peruth Chemutai of Uganda reacts after winning the women’s 3000m steeplechase final at the Tokyo Olympic Games on August 4, 2021. PHOTO | AFP

Other Ugandans athletes bearing Kalenjin names who have been on the limelight include Jacob Kiplimo, who is the 5,000m and 10,000m Commonwealth Games champion and Stephen Kiprotich, the 2012 Olympic marathon champion and 2013 world marathon champion.

Others are Stella Chesang, who won the gold medal in the women’s 10,000m at the at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and Peruth Chemutai, the 2020 Olympics champion in women’s 3000m steeplechase.

The reason, therefore, why the Sebei celebrated Ruto’s win is because they consider him “one of their own”.

Even so, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda has lately been forging a close relationship with the President-elect. President Museveni is also among African leaders who already sent their congratulatory messages to Dr Ruto.