Seated with one of the most experienced journalists in Baringo County, is a busy man, Kiprotich Kimeto.
Having him concentrate on a conversation is hard as we are interrupted in our meeting in a new rising Paradise Hotel in the Eldama Ravine sub-county of Baringo.
His life has been interesting and equally painful.
He attributes his chance to be educated to the death of his mum, after which he and his siblings were distributed to live in different places in Baringo.
He was lucky to end up with his well-off uncle, who saw him educated to the Kenya Advanced Certificate of Education (KACE).
KACE is a Kenyan academic level last done in 1989 before the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) was introduced and done, the same year.
To the people of Baringo, he is a feared and admired man, an inspiration to many.
With no media training, he brags of God’s favor upon him through his journalistic passion. He says he made a vow with God to have a byline someday in the major dailies in Kenya with his name, a dream that has been true for the past 19 years.
Kimeto was born in Poror, Baringo County, in 1969 to a polygamous family. He attended Poror Primary school, being the last class under the Certificate of Primary Education (CPE) system.
He later joined Ossen Secondary School in Baringo North and was expelled a year later for leading a protest. He was later admitted to Poror secondary school and later joined Kipsanguny for his KACE level form five and six education in the then Eldoret North constituency, now Soi Constituency.
He missed the university by a point.
Kimeto says during his secondary school education in form two, he started volunteering as a primary school tutor in Sinonin, Mwachon, and Poror primary schools.
“I taught them English, Geography, History, and Christian Religious Education (CRE). My mission was to change the narrative of students from those schools registering poor results. Later it paid off, with the schools’ intake to high school increasing from 2 to 14,” he says.
Kimeto believes the failure of students in a particular subject is due to the teacher’s inability to plan for their success.
Noticing his efforts, the late Daniel Bomet, his secondary school committee member, employed him to tutor his children under a small monthly stipend till 1992. He says he used this money to motivate his students in Sinonin, Mwachon, and Poror Primary schools through rewards.
During weekends, he would work on his journalistic passion by volunteering to be the Master of Ceremony at every event in the village and the commentator of every sports activity.
He would later report the sports stories to the Standard Media through Francis Mureithi through fax in Eldama Ravine post office, costing him Ksh.10 and, while at it, won souls that helped him win the Youth for KANU election in 1992.
His victory helped propel the late president Moi back to power.
He also played a role in the election of William Morogo as the Member of Parliament in the then Baringo South constituency that extended from Torongo to Kisanana.
He says he was forced to desert his favorite candidate Jonathan Moi upon his grandmother reminding him that Morogo was his relative.
Banking on Morogo’s success, he asked for an opportunity to study journalism at The Kenya Institute of Mass Communication (KIMC) or get a scholarship to travel abroad. The latter worked as they went as far as signing documents at the British High Commission.
However, during his wait, he discovered that a part of the Lembus forest was being fenced by chain link by the late Hosea Kiplagat, one of the most powerful people then.
Hosea served as the Chairman of cooperatives in Kenya. He was alleged to have wanted to grab the forest. As an activist, Kimeto says he consulted the then councilor Albert Chemitei and started leading a protest that helped cut the chain links.
Little did he know that Hosea Kiplagat was the one who sponsored Morogo’s campaigns, and this was a kickback. William Morogo was the Assistant Minister of Transport and Communication under the late President Moi’s government.
Upon his visit to Morogo’s office, he noticed that his reception was cold.
“Have you finished cutting the chain links?” Morogo asked him sarcastically.
“I actually was supposed to finish today but decided to come and follow up on the application instead, but I will finish,” replied Kimeto innocently.
“Well, you can go and finish the job first,” replied Morogo.
All this while, Kimeto never noticed anything wrong. It took him time before being told by a confidant that he had messed up.
His battle with Morogo would be evident in the 1997 and 2002 general elections after Morogo divided the then Baringo South District into two constituencies, and Kimeto campaigned against him in both elections.
Kimeto names Mambo Mbotela and Hamisi Thermo as his mentors.
His favorite subjects were composition and languages. In high school, he joined the Journalism club and was the best in essay writing.
“No one knew my passion for journalism and my relatives would always get me other opportunities, which I dodged. I earned little money from my uncle’s pyrethrum farm, where I was in charge of paying the laborers,” he narrates.
Meanwhile, Kimeto says he would concentrate on his volunteer sports activities and reporting.
“Though I wrote other news stories, the Kenya Broadcasting Cooperation (KBC) would always kill anti-state stories,” he says.
His passion for sports events led him to be chosen as the then Kenya Football Federation chairperson in 1996 for Koibatek and Mogotio constituencies.
After a series of campaigns and election preparation for the then Kenya Football Federation in 2001, fate would have a different plan.
“After crisscrossing Samburu, Narok and Kajiado seeking to be elected to be in charge of women’s football in the larger South Rift, I and seven of my friends were involved in a grisly road accident in Esageri towards Eldama Ravine,” he remembers.
At the scene of the accident, he was pronounced dead by the public court, leading to the rest of the occupants being rushed to Eldama Ravine Mission hospitals by good Samaritans and was left there for the police to come and collect the body.
A man well-advanced in years with his hand stick came along and started moving the body to see how the body was, he blinked, and that’s how he was saved.
He says he was also left unattended and covered as though dead at the hospital. It took his friend’s efforts to help out.
Luckily, among the road accident victims were two Indians being rushed to Nakuru for specialized treatment. He was taken alongside them.
Three months later, his miraculous journey was far from over, as Valley Hospital Nakuru demanded Ksh 0.6M to be discharged.
This was tough as he was on no payroll, so he devised an unexpected way out- hunger strike.
“While still in treatment, I was voted the Chairman Football Kenya Federation in Baringo, a position I hold to-date,” he explains.
In 2003, Kimeto was employed as a sports reporter for Baringo, earning a salary of Ksh. 150 a month, then Ksh 300 later.
In 2005 the story of elephants being stuck on the muddy shores of Lake KamNarok in Kabarnet was his breakthrough.
Reporting for several media houses, he started using his Kiprotich Kimeto name for Chamgei FM.
With the help of Michael Bowen, his pay improved from Ksh.300 to Ksh.3500.
In 2006, Kimeto sought the help of the then High Education Loans Board (HELB) Chairman, now Baringo Governor Benjamin Cheboi, to have him improve his media work. Cheboi made a call to Royal Media and changed his life.
“In 2009, I started flying out on assignment to the All African Games and World University Games in Kampala, representing Chamgei FM. Since 2015 to-date, I serve 11 constituencies. I am now 19 years old on the job,” Kimeto narrates.
He was discouraged by his family for his job and hardly made money; when his fortunes changed, his family members also changed gradually.
Kimeto blames politicians in the region for supporting brewers for votes. He says leaders should not blind themselves over social ills affecting society.
Apart from being a family person, he is a pyrethrum, wheat, maize, and avocado farmer. He volunteers his land for agricultural trials. He also serves the community as the Chairman of the Baringo Pyrethrum Board and FKF Baringo.
He writes for an education newspaper as a volunteer, saying most of his volunteering work is because people also volunteered to have him succeed.
He has eventually perfected his journalism skills by pursuing short courses to grow with speed on trending ways.
“I challenge the Kenyan youth to upgrade their careers often. Also, work hard; when you fail in hard work, you cannot succeed in life,” he advises.
Though he says he will not let the pen go, he plans to retire in four years.