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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Luo Culture: Their habits and behaviors Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Erick Ochieng Otieno, Kenya Apr 26, 2007
Culture   Opinions

  

Luo Culture: Their habits and behaviors I am a Luo from Kenya. Luo culture is one of the most diverse and the most vibrant cultures in Kenya and all over the world. The luo community in Kenya is estimated to be about 25% of the Kenyan population.

Luo community, according to history emerged from the Southern part of Sudan. During the olden days, it is believed that we were one community which included the Kalenjins who later came to be known as the highland Nilotes, and the Masai group who later came to be known as the plane Nilotes. Our Luo community came to be known as the River-Lake Nilotes. The naming of these communities came about according to their prevailing activities during the times of migration. The kalenjins were thought to have followed the highlands and settled in the mountainous regions of the Nandi hills whereas the Masai group were thought to have migrated following the planes and settled in the planes of the arid and semiarid areas. They were also later found to be nomadic. The Luo community, however, were the most unique. During our migration, we followed the river Nile and settled along Lake Victoria hence the name.

Our Luo culture dates back from centuries and eons. The Luo culture is based on the respect for one another and respect for the older people as well as respect for the teachings and beliefs. It is our belief that God brought us the rules and regulations we are to follow if we are to live a good life here on earth. It is believed among the Luo community that the person who was given the task to chart the way forward for the community was none other than “Ramogi” eons back. This was a title that was later adopted and given to any credible leader whom the people believe are the leaders of the Luo community just as the spiritual leaders are. It is our belief that whosoever fails to follow the laid down guidelines are to be followed by a curse from God “Obongo Nyarkalaga”, as we call Him.

The Luo culture has been one of the most interesting and complicated cultures as perceived by many who don’t understand it. One of the most controversial issues that have rendered the culture to be of interest to many is the issue of wife inheritance. This has been a hot topic to many who would want to understand the cultural practices of the Luo community. This does not imply that there is no positive aspect of the culture that is admired by many.

A view of the cultural practices at a glance is as follows;
• The Luo are known for their fishing traditions and are believed to be the first community to fish.
• The Luo culture believes that the children belong to the father and in case the parents separate, they are left with the father to take care of them.
• The culture also stipulates that any man who has a lot of wealth; the society expects him to take care of as many women as possible as their social responsibility.
• It is from this that the issue of wife inheritance comes in. However, this is the most misunderstood issue in the community’s cultural practices. Matters have also been by the young people misusing the practice to commit adultery with those women who have lost their loved ones. According to my knowledge of the Luo culture, the law stipulates very clearly the main purpose of wife inheritance is to let the believed feel at home with the family. It is also to take care of any children left behind by the father. This does not mean that those involved should be forced to have normal wife and husband relationship. It is only those who have already established their homesteads that are allowed to inherit. However many of our generations have bone against this laid down procedure.
• It is also our belief that for a man to inherit there must be a proper consultation with the whole community involved to determine what nature the inheritance will take place.
• The Luo community is also known to be fishermen as their main professional and social duties. Only men are allowed to go to the lake to fish while the women are left the shores to wait for catch.

There is a lot to be said about the Luo culture that we can not finish. This is just a little glance of the cultural practices.





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Erick Ochieng Otieno


I was a student from Egerton University. I pursued a course leading to a BSc in Applied Aquatic Sciences. I believe that through writing, one can relieve a lot from the heart. Inspiration came from hearing and reading. Whoever said that you have to be an old one to communicate issues of policies, did not consider that even a newborn communicates through its own way, "crying". I would like to communicate to the world all my thoughts; However minor they are, I believe they will go a great length to straighten or strengthen a policy or two somewhere and I shall have contributed to the well being of the world. How noble that is, it is for my worthy readers to let me know. So what do you think? Tell me anytime. Bye and have a nice reading.
Comments


thanks Erick
Christabell Opudo | Feb 7th, 2009
This is a good insight for the Lou culture and being a student studying gender and devlopmenst study it's gives some insight on how elements of culture relate with certain identified cultures. Kudos and hope to get some more info's on this



Congrats Ochieng
geoffrey ouma | Oct 21st, 2010
I will take this opportunity to thank you for the good writing you have done pli z. The history you have written has helped those who r taking historical courses & mannaged the m to learn alot.i have al so lea rnt alot from your writing.



Thanks
emma ganda | Apr 13th, 2011
Your work is good an di have been trying to look for the books on Luo Culture i hope to find the recent ones which i know is a big challenge



Thank you sll!
erick ochieng otieno | Apr 15th, 2011
Hi thanks for appreciating the work. I am glad



Stephen | Apr 26th, 2011
Ochieng' otieno, your writing is wonderful and rich. I wish the audience could engage more on the Luo teachings and culture. Whereas some of them may at present be regarded as retrogressive, a great number of the useful teachings have been lost mainly because of lack of documentation. I was recently presented with an interesting spectacle at a dowery settlement ceremony. While my people insisted that until my girlfriend's parents build a new house in their new home as a replacement for the first house (Ligala), as a prospective son-in-law I should not enter into the "Ligala" house of my prospective parents-in-law, the later were of a different opinion. They were of the opinion that they have embraced the salvation and are not intent on practicing the time-honoured Luo culture. We finally had our end of the bargain but the father-in law to be made it clear that he does not recognise that first visit because it was held at his brother's compound instead of his. Would you know where I could get an indepth analysis of this controversial custom?

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