Batian Peak of Mount Kenya

Batian Peak of Mount Kenya : Mount Kenya with a height of  5,199Metres is the highest mountain in kenya and the second highest mountain in Africa. The mountain  is located in former central province, its peak is  the intersection point of Embu, Meru, Tharaka Nithi,Kirinyaga and Nyeri counties. Mount Kenya  lies 16.5 kilometres from Equator and about 150 kilometres from Nairobi. Mount kenya National park which was established in 1949 to protect , Mount Kenya and its environs . It was added among the Kenya World Heritage Site in 1997. The mountain was formed through a volcanic activity a bout 3 million years ago. The mountain is an example of Stratovolcano mountain, it has its highest peak is Batian 5,199 metres Nelion 5,188m and Lenana 4,985m.

The scenery surrounding this designated World Heritage Site is breathtaking one of the highest peaks in Africa and wonderful wildlife. The environment surrounding the mountain forms a habitat for wild animals, as well as acting as  Kenya’s water catchment area. Mount Kenya is the second tallest mountain in Africa after Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. It has pristine wilderness with lakes, tarns, glaciers, dense forest, mineral springs and a selection of rare and endangered species of animals, high altitude adapted plains game and unique montane and alpine vegetation. It was initially a forest reserve, before being announced as a national park.

The national park has an area of 715 square kilometres most of which is above the 3,000-metre contour line. The forest reserve has an area of 705 km². The park has several wildlife in it which include  Elephants Suni, Duiker, leopards, baboons, bushbuck, impala, gazelles, warthogs, Leopards, cape Buffaloes, Black and white colobus and Sykes monkeys, Mountain Bongo among others.

The Government of Kenya had four reasons for creating a national park on and around Mount Kenya. These were the importance of tourism for the local and national economies, to preserve an area of great scenic beauty, to conserve the biodiversity within the park, and to preserve the water-catchment for the surrounding area. It is one of the mountain’s in kenya that anyone can  climb even biggies with a bit of preparation climbing to point Lenana is possible, however for one to climb to point Batian and Nelion one has some mountain climbing experience.

It is recorded that the first European to see Mount Kenya is the German Missionary Johann Ludwig krapf in 1849. Mount kenya is considered by the Agikuyu communities living around it to be a sacred place and they used to climb and pray or just pray while facing it. On 13th September 1899 ,Mackinder, Ollier and Brocherel were the first to ascend Mount Kenya.

Mbatian  the Greatest spiritual leader of the Maasai

In around 200 years the Maasai were ruled by spiritual leader known as  Iloibono or simply Laibon. Much is not known about their spiritual powers but it is believed to be drawn from their rituals, this powers is believed to be passed over from generations and it was passed over to the family of  Ole Supeet dynasty.

An Oloiboni or Laibon was the leader and held the highest place in the social hierarchy of the Maasai. A Laibon’s position was not political but he had supreme influence and power through his role as the chief medicine man , diviner and prophet of the people.

Mbatian Ole Supeet was the greatest of them all, he inherited the mantle of leadership from his father in 1866. Mbatian came from Matapato in Kajiado county. He ruled for 24 years,  from 1866 to 1890. His tenure was a successful one marked by tranquillity, prosperity, expansion and great unity among the Maasai.

It is during his time that the colonial settlers considered the Maasai to be the Lords of East Africa. Their territory greatly increased and their land covered the region from Lake Turkana in Kenya to Mount Meru near Arusha in Tanzania. Mbatian managed to unite Maa communities that had previously not seen eye to eye who were IInkisongo living in parts of Kenya and Tanzania with the IIpurko living in Narok and Kajiado counties in Kenya, Batian Peak of Mount Kenya

Mbatian is known to have promised the coming of the white man colonisation and the coming of the iron snake- the railway line- which would split Masaai land into two a prophesy that came to pass before his death in 1890. He also warned his people from moving from their ancestral lands. He told them if they would do so they would die of smallpox and their cattle too would perish. In addition, they were to fight a powerful enemy which would defeat them. He also emphasised that he was about to die and if they would stick to their lands, he would send them cattle from heaven.

Mbatian was married to two wives who bore him two legendary Maasai leaders Senteu and Olonana or Lenana. The story about these two brothers tell of the division among the Maasai triggered by Olonana who disinherited his older brother Senteu by tricking his father into handing over leadership to him. It is noted that when Mbatian was on the point of his death , he called the elders of Matapato the district in which he resided. He prophesied many things and told them he wished his successor to be the son to whom he would give medicine man’s insignia. It is reputed to have called his eldest son Senteu or Sendenyo and said to him “come tomorrow morning for I wish to give you the medicine man’s insignia.”

Batian Peak of Mount Kenya
Batian Peak of Mount Kenya

The conversation was overheard by Lenana who was hiding in the calf-shed. He rose early in morning in the next morning and went to his father’s hut he said “father I have come”. Mbatian at the time was very old and had only one good eye, he therefore didn’t see which of his sons was before him and so he gave to Lenana the Medicine man’s insignia. Lenana was given the iron club and the medicine horn, the gourd, the stones and the bag and was blessed “ Thou shall be great amongst thy brothers and amongst all the people Lenana took the insignia and went away.

Mbatian died in 1890 and was buried at Oldonyo Orok a Black hill in Namanga Hills. Upon his death his son Olonana was proclaimed the principal medicine man but his rivalry with his brother Senteu led to loss of his life in a protracted civil war which reduced the Maasai population by half.

Mbatian has given his name to the highest peak in Kenya highest Mountain, Mount Kenya.

Mbatian legacy lives on

To date the Maasai community lifestyle I’d mainly pastoralism, this has been compatible with wildlife conservation. For example traditionally the Maasai people did not eat wild animals.

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