You are on page 1of 4

Traditional practices among the Luo of Western Kenya. Introduction.

The Luo tribe inhabits the Nyanza province of Western Kenya. The Luo are also referred to as Jaluo of the Joluo. They are the third largest ethnic group with an estimation of 13% of the population in Kenya. They are said to have migrated from Wau in southern Sudan to their current territory via what is now known as eastern Uganda. The Luo of Kenya are a nilotic group of people who migrated from Bahr-el- Ghazal in Southern Sudan. They settled in the western part of Kenya in areas around Lake Victoria, further earning them their description as the river lake nilotes a phrase that is still being used to describe them up to date. They arrived into this part of East Africa from as early as the fifteenth century to the nineteenth. Century, in four distinct groups. The first group to arrive in Kenya were the Joka Jok in the fifteenth century and they settled at Ramogi hill, Sakwa , Asembo and Alego. The second group to arrive were the Joka Owiny who were led by Sigoma , and they came in the Seventeenth century and settled around Kisumu, Nyakach , and South Nyanza.. Joka Owiny were followed by Joka Omolo who came into Kenya from Busoga in Uganda in the eighteenth century. Joka Omolo took there place in areas of Samia, Yimbo and South Nyanza joinig their cousins who had arrived earlier on. The final chunk of the Luo group to arrive were the Luo-Abasuba who arrived from Uganda in the nineteenth century and they settled at Rusinga and Mfangano Islands in Lake Victoria and they are a mixture of Bantus and Luos. The four groups that arrived and settled in different areas around Lake Victoria and despite the disparity in their time of arrival they share similar cultural values.

Luo Culture, Lifestyle & Religion.
Luo people are among the few Kenyan tribes that do not traditionally circumcise their males as an initiation to manhood. Instead, in Luo traditions, initiation involves the removal of six front teeth - three each from the upper and lower jaws. One dominant practice for the Luo is fishing given their close proximity to the Lake Victoria . This makes fish their major staple food and ugali. This fish is used for both domestic consumption and export especially the Nile Perch to export to Europe. For those who reside outside the lake region, they work as tenant fishermen and urban workers. Agriculture, especially
sugarcane and cotton farming, is also practiced in other areas where Luos live.

Marriage is considered as a vital rite of passage among the Luo. Although most of the cultural practices that were practiced by the Luo society have been eroded away, due to westernization and the coming of Christianity, those that are considered not to be retrogressive or at loggerheads with Christianity still remain in practice among this people up to now. One of those practices that

whom they called Nyasaye. All these costumes and ornaments are made from local materials. like nyatiti. and had a strong ancestor cult. This is especially true for those living in the rural areas. wind tung' a horn. Another unique Luo custom is wife inheritance whereby. It is generally believed that only people who did good things when alive appear in this way and are thus "reincarnated". many still uphold most of their traditional cultural customs. and Asili a flute. tero buru. the same. It is believed that after death. Rich in musical instruments. these two steps are carried out simultaneously. As well. which involved the payment of a bride price by the groom. the naming ceremony. to help curb the spread of HIV and AIDS. .is still being observed among the community in some part of Luo . Any time between birth and age two. If the ancestor was quiet. skirts made from sisal and colored beads worn around the neck and waist. is still widely practiced. Usually. Ladies usually use red and while clay to decorate them. elaborate and dramatic ceremony that symbolizes the departure of a loved one. Perhaps one of the most interesting and noticeable attributes common among the elite. The first phase is the Ayie involving a payment of money to the mother of the bride. orutu a type of fiddle). This is a unique. a type of lyre. the Luo still have traditional instruments which vary from percussion. Swahili. if a man dies. The child is supposed to assume some of the mannerisms of the ancestor he or she is named after. Children are rarely named after bad people. string. a church ceremony then follows. a marriage ceremony was conducted in two phases. an ancestor might appear in a dream to an adult member of the family. It is a dynamic approach in which songs in Dholuo. The Luo traditionally believed in an afterlife and a supreme creator. one of his brothers or close relatives inherits his widow and must meet all of her marital requirements. The so-named ancestor becomes the individual's "guardian angel" throughout life. Today the vast majority of Kenya Luo are Christians. the Luo are known for the benga music style. otherwise known as The Queen's English.Nyanza ³ The native Luo land´ is the marriage process . some of the Luo cultural practices now regarded as retrogressive are slowly fading away. evil people are permanently gone (sent to hell). while a few are Muslim. Presently. Traditionally. recent efforts have been made to promote male circumcision among the Luo. the second phase involving giving cattle to her father. educated or urban Luo people is their flamboyant character and sense of style. and as many modern day Luos are into Christianity. or English are sung alongside a lively guitar riff. such as wife inheritance. The first major ritual in a Luo person's life is called juogi. However. if talkative. Teso and Turkana people. While most Luos are now Christians. it's slowly dying away due to the fear of it spreading diseases The Luo mourning ceremony. the child becomes a quiet person. Recently. in addition to their polished and eloquent command of the English language. The Luo have very enriched traditional dance costumes.

The Odinga family is currently the most influential family in Luo politics. Luos played a key role in the attainment of Kenya's independence. former vice-president Jaramogi Odinga . Many years of marginalization and disastrous economic management in Kenya. particularly under the KANU party's administration of the nascent state. Two prominent Luo politicians of that era were Ochieng Aneko and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. the Luo people did not have their land taken from them. Oginga Odinga. preferring to assume the vice presidency with Jomo Kenyatta as the head of government. Under British colonial rule. Ravaged by AIDS and with little or no infrastructure.the most influential Luo politician at the time . Raila Odinga. the Luo tribe have been Kenya's strongest voice in opposition politics. had tragic consequences for the people of Kenya. even after Jaramogi Odinga's death in 1994. Since that time. At independence.Political History of the Luo. is the prime minister of Kenya under the current grand coalition government. Their administration represented the Kenya African National Union (KANU) party In the late 1960s.had political differences with President Jomo Kenyatta.the Kenya People's Union. despite the economic potential of nearby Lake Victoria. declined the presidency of Kenya. Kenya continues to struggle with poverty and AIDS today . the Luo-populated regions remained poor and undeveloped. However. unlike other Kenyan tribes. the second son of Jaramogi Odinga. the prominent Luo leader. through their political participation. Jaramogi resigned from the government and formed an opposition party .

0014028 Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) (2010) Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2008-09.php/lifestyle/43-culture/51-courtship-and-marriage-among-the-luoof-kenya http://en. Agot KE.pone. Kenya: Baseline Results from a Prospective Cohort Study.com/index. (2010) Widow Inheritance and HIV Prevalence in Bondo District. Kenya's ethnic communities foundation of the nation. Vander Stoep A. Published 2006 by Gat nd Publishers in Nairobi. http://craw-forum.1371/journal. Bukusi EA. Tracy M.org/wiki/Luo_people_of_Kenya_and_Tanzania . doi:10.References Mboya P (1997) Luo Kitgi gi Timbegi: A Handbook of Luo Customs. PLoS ONE 5(11): e14028. by Wang h Ng'ang'a. Obare BA. Calverton. Kenya . et al. Maryland: KNBS and ICF Macro. Kisumu: Anyange Press.wikipedia.