The passing on last week of Francis Lemek Ole Legis marks the end of an era in Maasailand politics. Ole Legis who was laid to rest yesterday in his Loolopon home is admittedly one of the rare specimen in Maasailand.
The grand old man who died of old-age related illness will be remembered as a gallant fighter for the rights of the oppressed since his boyhood days in Maasai Government School in Loitokitok. For instance, in 1937, he organized a march to the Provincial Commissioner’s headquarters in Narok to protest against draconian rules by the school authorities! However, the intervention of elders nipped the idea in the bud.
Ole Legis has left a long history behind him. For instance, he actively participated in the Second World War where he served as a medical corp from 1940. Between 1941 and 1945, he rose to the position of sergeant which necessitated his deployment to Uganda, Ethiopia, India and Bangladesh among other places.
After the war in 1945, the indefatigable Ole Legis returned to Kenya and joined the Kenya African Study Union and later KAU and KANU. He was instrumental in introducing nationalist politics in Kajiado and Maasailand in general.
In a desperate attempt to cool him down, the colonial functionaries appointed him to various positions as Moran Officer, Moran Supervisor and finally as African Assistant District Officer which he served until 1957. For this, he worked in Kajiado, Narok, Nakuru, Maralal, Kimilili and Homabay after which he finally hanged his boots ; and joined independence politics against his perennial nemesis Mr Stanley Shapashina Oloitipitip. Interestingly, he had gone against the grain by joining KANU in a largely KADU dominated zone.
He later joined the Olkejuado County Council and served as chairman until 1979 when he made the last bid for parliamentary politics. He was once more humbled by the incumbent Oloitipitip who as Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, had ceased the Amboseli Game Reserve to the national government ostensibly to diminish his rising political clout.
The late son of Oloitokitok, who is among the last of the surviving members of the left-hand grade of “ilterito” age-set, was a no-nonsense development conscious leader of all times.